Monday, February 25, 2008

Ending the myth of Google invincibility

Google is having a Gmail outage today. I first saw the current problems mentioned on ZDNet. There were earlier Gmail outages this month, in January, 2007, 2006 (both May and June), and 2005. As with competitor’s outages, customers complain that Google isn't acknowledging the problem, although they did acknowledge a problem earlier this month.

Clearly Gmail is challenged by phenomenal growth. However, unlike some other Google (or Yahoo) properties, this can’t be blamed on a poor architectural decision by a little company acquired by Google.

Also, infrastructure shouldn’t be an issue. Since 2006, Google has been spending hundreds of millions on a 70,000 square foot data center in Oregon (with 200 staffers). Apparently its data center capital expenditures hit $2.4 billion last year, and Microsoft has been racing to match.

But by its actions, Google seems to be saying that “free” means that it only promises the same reliability as my VoIP service or Skype. Caveat emptor — or, more accurately, you don’t get what you don’t pay for.

This to me suggests an opportunity for Google competitors to market superior reliability — particularly if they can surpass the recent Blackberry track record.

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