01 March 2011

Cloud Glitch: Gmail Outage Highlights Big Benefits / Big Risk Proposition

Automation. It simultaneously extends benefits and risks. On the risk side of the equation, small problems can be dramatically magnified. A steady migration of some applications to the cloud has exposed many to this long-understood computing gamble. The latest instance is yesterday's Google Gmail outage, caused by a yet-to-be-specified software failure in Google's storage infrastructure.

Commentary about this outage has focused on the reliance of tape technology to restore Google's backups. I'm guessing that's because consumer backups may have drifted toward disk backups instead of tape (out of economic desperation, rather than a well-reasoned decision). The bigger story isn't about tape. It's not about the flaw itself, though that would be an interesting sidebar. It's about how one of the world's largest technology firms with an essentially unlimited budget for its software development life cycle (SDLC) allowed flawed software to enter production systems.

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