Google suffers major failure

Various Google Apps start kicking back in after widespread outage this morning

The Internet has been abuzz about widespread trouble with Google Inc.'s Google Apps service this morning.

Google Search and Google News performance slowed to a crawl, while an outage seemed to spread from Gmail to Google Maps and Google Reader. Comments about the failure were flying on Twitter, with " googlefail" quickly became one of the most searched terms on the popular micro-blogging site.

By around noon EDT, the outages had started clearing up.

"We're aware some users are having trouble accessing some Google services," said a Google spokesman in an e-mail to Computerworld. "We're looking into it, and we'll update everyone soon."

When the outage began, many users turned to Twitter to vent their frustrations and to look for information.

"Google isn't down, it's engaging in mortal combat with Wolfram Alpha," wrote one Twitterer this morning, referring to a highly anticipated new search engine. Another said, "So Google goes down and the Internet almost stops and Google becomes most talked about thing on the net today. Yahoo anyone???"

Twitter users also were quick to begin reporting that the trouble was clearing up. "Google is back and I've stopped twitching," said one Tweet.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said this kind of outage is going to be tough on Google.

"As far as I can tell, all of Google, or at least the big pieces, went down," he said. "This is bad news for Google's efforts to build up Apps, and to a lesser extent, Gmail, as critical business tools. It also undermines the entire category of hosted applications. If the mighty Google can stumble, then who can be trusted?"

In February, Google's Gmail had a highly publicized two-and-a-half-hour outage.

That February outage came just a week after Google acknowledged that some users had experienced problems getting results from Google News searches over a span of more than 14 hours. Some users reported that they weren't getting any results when searching for keywords, such as Microsoft and even Google, in Google News. Other users reported that entire news sections, such as Science/Technology, were coming up empty of stories.

And last December, Google confirmed that there was a technical problem with Google Talk and the Web-based Gmail chat system. One day early in the month, messages created by a "subset" of users were left unsent because of glitches in the messaging system, according to Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs.

The scope of today's outage isn't immediately clear but it appears to be international.

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Sharon Gaudin

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
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