Freaky Friday: Google Deals With Ridicule, Weirdness During Gmail Outage


On Friday afternoon Eastern time, Gmail, Google+ and other Google cloud services went down for folks around the world. Google was able to restore the email service to its 450 million-some Gmail users in just under an hour, but not before the jokesters came out in force to make fun of Google's predicament.

One of the jokesters was Yahoo, which in a fit of cloud schadenfreude tweeted "We're sorry but your Gmail account is temporarily unavailable" on its official account.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer was a top Google executive for many years, which is perhaps why Yahoo saw fit to delete the tweet and apologize a short while later. Or maybe it was the fact that Yahoo has grappled with numerous major Web email outages of its own in recent months.

[Related: Microsoft Cuts Azure Storage Pricing As Amazon Obsession Heats Up]

In any event, Yahoo ended up attracting even more attention to its transgression by tweeting this:

Microsoft, through its MSN Twitter account, didn't pass up the opportunity to kick some sand in the face of its cloud rival.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice president of communications, has been known to sling some barbs at Google on Twitter from time to time, did not tweet about the Gmail outage, much to the disappointment of the chorus of Twitter users calling on him to do so.

In another strange twist of fate, engineers from Google's "reliability team" were getting ready to hold an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit shortly after Gmail went down.

Since these engineers are tasked with making sure Google's cloud services stay up and running, Reddit users taking part in the session were unsurprisingly overcome by the irony of the situation.

But according to the Washington Post, the Google engineers claimed they didn't work on Gmail and fobbed off questions about the outage by referring folks to Google's App Status dashboard.

If all this weren't enough, a separate and previously undetected Gmail glitch caused Hotmail (Outlook.com) user David S. Peck of Fresno, Calif., to receive thousands of misrouted emails to his account. Peck told TechCrunch on Friday that the flood of random emails had essentially rendered his Hotmail account useless.

"They're coming so fast, I want to stop them. I deleted everything last night and woke up this morning and had 1,900 new emails," Peck told TechCrunch. "Only two of them were emails I cared about."

All of this shows that not even Google, which developed some of the cloud's most important foundational technologies, is immune to ridicule -- and just plain weirdness -- when cloud services go down.

PUBLISHED JAN. 24, 2014

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