How not to handle a cloud failure. Google and Microsoft.

Two important email providers Google and Microsoft have recently encountered a cloud failure and it would be interesting to further investigate their reactions for learning purposes. This week Google officially announced an outage affecting 0.02% of all its Gmail accounts (around 40,000 in total). Every two hours after this news (meaning all through the night) updates on the progress were shared with the users via its App Status Dashboard.  This timely problem assessment  and dissemination of information culminated with a complete report on the issue and the solving procedure followed, released only 35 hours after the crash. So this sounds pretty much like a high quality customer service (and note that the service is free).

Microsoft experienced a similar crash at the end of December, 2010. 12 hours after, the company still hasn’t made any official statements on the incident while hundreds of complaints were being filled. This lack of communication continued until January, the 3rd when Christ Jones, Windows Live’s Senior Vice President publicly acknowledged their problem on the Windows Live blog. Given the season  when this happened (the winter holidays) it must have been a serious nuisance to Hotmail users.

Even though the two company’s crashes had different causes (and a different number of affected users: 17, 355 vs. 40,000), the effect was the same: tens of thousands of people could not access their email accounts for days and some of them were not given any explanation (quite frustrating we’d say). Without reprimanding Microsoft or exalting Google, the latter’s timeliness and professionalism in handling the situation is to be noted as a good to follow practice for Saas suppliers (poke to digital signage software providers). A detailed read on the two cloud failures can be accessed here.

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