Google is listening and making the right moves.
Yesterday, the company sent a round of e-mails announcing that Google Apps users could experience outtages as a result of some server maintenance that Google was planning to conduct during the 8AM-9PM PDT on Thursday, April 25th. That timeframe covers a majority of the business hours for all of the US on a weekday, a plan that earlier today caused me to grade Google's performance (when it comes to upgrading a mission critical service) with an F. Although the service is advertised as a beta service, beta is a period in a software development cycle when the finishing touches are being applied and developers should be looking to keep the environment as real world as possible. In the real world, not only do hosted application providers like Salesforce.com announce planned outtages to their customers, they plan those outtages to take place outside of normal business hours. Now, we can add Google (with respect to Google Apps) to the list of solutions providers that will be doing that. According to a company spokesman:
The routine maintenance of Google Calendar that was planned between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. PDT on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 will not take place at this time. We expect future scheduled maintenance of Google Calendar to have no impact on users of Google Apps. In addition, we are actively working on changes in routine maintenance procedures for other products on the Google Apps platform so updates such as these will either take place outside of peak hours or not impact our customers at all. We are sorry for any confusion this has caused.
Scratch that F and replace it with a B+ Not only is Google switching gears for this round of maintenance (raising the grade to a B-), it appears to be doing so as a matter of ongoing policy (bumping it to a B+, in my book). Why not an A? Well, as I said in my earlier post, Google can raise the bar by equipping Google Apps administrators with some cool tools for getting the word out to their Google Apps users. For example, boilerplate (but editable) text that includes (a) information about the planned outtage and (b) links to any additional information. Then, a really easy way for administrators to distribute that information to their users. And for extra bonus points, a way for Google Apps administrators to, at their option, actually add the schedule maintenance time to their users' Google Calendar.
Bottom line. Google made the right call.