It was Saturday morning, October 3, 2009, and I was trying to log into my gmail (Google mail) account about 7:45 AM (EST). After typing in the URL and hitting return, nothing happened. The screen froze. I tried Google search, and I got the same thing. What's going on?
I quickly tried Microsoft's Bing search, no problems. I also visited USAToday, the Detroit News, our State of Michigan portal and others. They all worked - and they were fast. I thought: "No, the Internet is not down and my home wireless network is working fine."
Over the next twenty minutes, I ran some more searches (using Bing) to try and trouble-shoot the problem from my end. I searched on "Is Google Down?"
There were plenty of stories about how Google has gone down many times over the past couple of years. Here are some of the stories I read. Last year, eWeek ran this story. Later, ComputerWorld described a February 2009 outage, as well as another one in May 2009.
More recently, Google apologized for September 2009 gmail outages. Blogs popped up all over the place with Google analysis and even Google said the outages were a big deal. Some are now asking what these outages mean for cloud services.
But none of these told me anything about my current situation. I searched some more...
I typed: "Is there a Google outage on October 3, 2009?" I couldn't find anything initially. I went back to Google by 9:05 AM, and everything worked. A few minutes later, I found that I was not alone. Check out this post: Google search is Down, Adsense, GMail... This post said that everything was up by 5:18 AM, but I'm not sure what time zone this person was in.
The Google App Status Dashboard listed no status for for 10/3/09 (as of 9:45 AM), so I don't know what their official stance is yet for this outage. However, there is no doubt that these outages are starting to rattle users.
I'm not sure where this is heading. It could become a serious PR issue for Google, if they don't get this outage situation fixed quickly. Can we rely on Google apps at work? It may also be a serious issue for their cloud services, if they can't provide uptime.
Don't get me wrong. I am a Google-fan. Their service is free at home and very good overall - in my opinion. I use more of their apps all the time. I've viewed Google as unbeatable - like the old UCLA basketball team that won 88 games in a row over four seasons. The question is whether they are getting too big and can keep the winning-ways going.
Perhaps the expectations are too high for Google? I'm no longer so sure that they will dominate our Internet future in the long run.
What are your thoughts? Are Google outages becoming a serious problem?
Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.
During his distinguished career, he has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, receiving numerous national awards including: CSO of the Year, Public Official of the Year and Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.
Lohrmann led Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure teams from May 2002 to August 2014, including enterprisewide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.
He currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for Security Mentor Inc. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. He has advised senior leaders at the White House, National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal, state and local government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofit institutions.
He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US/UK military facility.
Lohrmann is the author of two books: Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. He has been a keynote speaker at global security and technology conferences from South Africa to Dubai and from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.
He holds a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.
Follow Lohrmann on Twitter at: @govcso
Building effective virtual government requires new ideas, innovative thinking and hard work. From cybersecurity to cloud computing to mobile devices, Dan discusses what’s hot and what works in the world of gov tech.