Google is developing a system status reporting dashboard for its Apps Premier product line. This decision provides further evidence Google is serious about becoming an enterprise software vendor.
CNET's Dave Rosenberg posted the announcement email, describing the dashboard's incident reporting features:
- A description of the problem, with emphasis on user impact....
- A continuously updated estimated time-to-resolution....
For most minor incidents, that should provide sufficient information to users regarding problem status and expected recovery times. For more serious problems, Google's plans go much further:
[A] formal incident report within 48 hours of problem resolution. This incident report will contain the following information:
a. business description of the problem, with emphasis on user impact; b. technical description of the problem, with emphasis on root cause; c. actions taken to solve the problem; d. actions taken or to be taken to prevent recurrence of the problem; and e. time line of the outage.
Finally, if things get really bad, the email promises in-depth consultation with customers on an individual basis:
[W]e'll support your internal communication process through participation in post-mortem calls with you and your management team.
When an incident first occurs, reporting is limited to status, availability, and predicted resolution times. For more severe situations, that basic status reporting will be supplemented by a business-oriented description of the cause, scope, and impact of the problems. Finally, following the worst downtime issues, Google will present a transparent and detailed analysis.
THE PROJECT FAILURES ANALYSIS
Google joins the ranks of Salesforce.com and Amazon, both of which offer industry-leading incident reporting to end-users. The Salesforce reporting service has been around a long time, while Amazon instituted theirs following a series of serious downtime incidents earlier this year.
I'm rather shocked to see Google's willingness to participate in detailed post-mortem analysis discussions with customers. For such consultations to offer any value whatsoever, the company's representative must be knowledgeable regarding both the business and technical implications of downtime events. People with this experience don't grow on trees, especially if they are also strong communicators, so this represents a significant resource investment.
Although Google may offer this service level to large accounts such as Cap Gemini, I doubt smaller customers will receive any personalized attention whatsoever. After all, Google isn't known for providing stellar customer service; actually, the company's customer care record sucks widgets. Only time will tell whether Google can successfully transition from its mass market consumer mentality to becoming a trusted, service oriented enterprise vendor.
Great status reporting systems, while important, don't turn consumer application companies into enterprise software vendors. However, the business focus and directional strategic intent of this investment are clear.