Gmail Outage Due to Server Usage Miscalculation

September 2nd, 2009 at 12:00 am

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For those who are using Gmail as their main email inbox of choice, the outage on September 1 would certainly have been frustrating. It wouldn’t have been so bad for those who use Gmail for casual emails with friends and whatnot. But the outage that lasted for about two hours (starting around noon Pacific time) is quite serious for those who may be using Gmail for business communication purposes. Surely there are serious issues involved and people wanted to know why.

After the outage that happened and the repairs made to restore Gmail online, the people at Google issued a post on their blog concerning the issue. According to the blog post, the problem came about as a result of performing routine maintenance on their servers. The Google engineers took a small portion of their servers offline for regular maintenance. This alone would not have caused the problem as such actions have been done all the time.

What may have caused the Gmail outage was a simple miscalculation as to how much load was coming when the server changes and upgrades were being made. The engineers underestimated the load of requests coming into the request routers. The sudden increase caused an overload to one request router after another that eventually halted traffic into the servers and prevented users from accessing their Gmail accounts. It was a good thing that the engineers saw the problem instantly and started fixing it.  But the lengthy outage certainly did not help Gmail users in any way.

Outages like these won’t quite help Google gain more users as what it is aiming to do these recent months. From taking the "Beta" stage out of Gmail to widely promoting the service to businesses as a backend email software alternative for more established products such as those from IBM and Microsoft, such outages may make interested clients to think twice before using it the next time.

Although Google is taking such issues quite seriously, even having such outages is out of the question especially for people who are increasingly using Gmail as an important and valuable means of online communication, whether personal or business-wise. It is an instance that Gmail may not likely afford to make again if it hopes to lure more and more people to come into its fold.