Will downtime rain on the cloud computing parade?

Gmail recorded downtime yesterday, once again raising availability as an on-demand software issue. I'm interested in your opinion on this matter.

Gmail recorded downtime yesterday, once again raising availability as an on-demand software issue. I'm interested in your opinion on whether this issue is significant.

Here's a view of this most recent Gmail outage from Google's new status dashboard:

And here's detail describing the problem:

Earlier this year, Salesforce.com, perhaps the most well-known enterprise SaaS vendor, suffered downtime across it's entire system. Here's a Salesforce status dashboard screen highlighting the outage:

To be clear, I'm not complaining specifically about either Google or Salesforce. Their status dashboards provide a level of transparency that other vendors should emulate. Although no online software as a service (SaaS) vendor is immune to downtime, most are not this forthright about exposing failures to public inspection.

As an aside, it's interesting to note that Google updated its dashboard from "disruption" status to "info," in effect hiding the outage's severity from casual observers. Salesforce doesn't play this game and neither should Google. You can see the updated status on the screen to the right.

To put my concerns about service reliability into perspective, ZDNet's Editor in Chief, Larry Dignan, said this about a Gmail outage last month:

I still maintain that a cloud-based solution - whether Google’s or anyone else’s - is a more efficient way of running a business. Don’t let one outage - no matter how widespread - tarnish your opinion of a cloud solution.

Fellow ZDNet blogger, Zack Whittaker, pretty much agrees with Larry because:

Gmail, to me, remains as one of the most important and integral parts of my life at the moment.

Perhaps because I write a blog dedicated to IT failures, I'm not ready to let vendors off the hook quite so easily.

What do you think? Please take this quick poll and share your thoughts.

[poll id="3"]

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