Obviously Google is scrambling to undo some PR damage caused by this week's Apps outage. I certainly received some negative feedback on my proclamation of continued faith in all things Google and willingness to roll out their Apps for Education, regardless of the problems. However, what this led to, according to ComputerWorld, is an increase in "transparency".
Google has revealed a dashboard for the Apps, alerting users to the status of the individual components. While this won't solve problems when they arise, it certainly gives administrators a heads up and improves our ability to keep users informed.
This also provides any people who are considering the service with a chance to monitor when outages are really occurring and how extensive they are. While the media were happy to jump all over four hours of downtime, how much downtime has there really been and is it more than we might experience in a typical business?
So far, the data posted suggest that there is anything more than what we're experiencing with our current mail solution (although that solution is also web-based, it lacks offline capabilities, making outages that much more significant).
Maybe I'm just cheap, but I genuinely believe that the dashboard and Google's ability to address problems quickly, while providing an impressive suite of cloud-based applications makes Edu Apps a great choice for cash-strapped schools (and even well-funded schools) looking to provide students and staff with great learning and teaching tools.