Google has blamed Asia for its hour-long outage on Thursday. Lest our friends in the East let out a howl of protest over what could be perceived as a racial slur, Google offers a plausible explanation.
A system error in Google rerouted its traffic to Asia, causing a traffic jam that left scores of users around the world mighty annoyed. Tons of emails were left unsent and all other Google products—Google News, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Analytics, Google Reader, and YouTube—were inacessible.
Some users reported that they could not even access the google.com home page. The outage, which started around 7:48 am Pacific time, cleared up a little over an hour later.
The most recent Google blackout caused an uproar in the blogosphere and Twitter users ranted about the issue, calling it “#googlefail.” The search giant was quick to douse the fire, however, saying in a statement that it was investigating the problem and that it should be resolved in no time.
After an hour, Google issued another statement saying that the outage has already cleared up. Google used the analogy of flying from New York to San Francisco, but the plane was instead routed to an airport in Asia which is not fully equipped to handle the massive traffic influx; hence, the flight was delayed.
Google wrote on its website:
“An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We’ve been working hard to make our services ultrafast and “always on,” so it’s especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We’re very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we’ll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won’t happen again…”
The problem did not only cause a glitch in Google’s services; it also slowed down other sites, some taking several minutes to load. Some users remarked that a Google blackout may not entirely kill the Internet, but it can considerably slow it down.
Google had been down many times in the past, leading users to complain that Google is becoming outage-prone. Gmail alone reportedly experienced at least six outages since June 2008.
Google should be extra careful about similar incidents happening in the future as these could seriously affect users’ perception of its products. As Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group, tells TechWorld: “Outages like this are highly publicized today, users are vocal and the news spreads like wildfire… It will have an impact on Google, as it makes their services look less than reliable. “
Olds observes that while such problems only last several hours at the most, complaints from users from the four corners of cyberspace could greatly undermine Google’s credibility by making the issue bigger than it really is. Outages like the most recent one could make users think they can’t solely depend on Google applications for all their online needs.