Into the Cloud: When Gmail Goes Down and Lessons Learned

cloud-guyonbench.jpgFor the past several hours, I’ve been trying to access my Gmail account. Gmail keeps indicating that it’s “trying to connect to Gmail servers”. For some reason the email is down.
This reminds me, and hence I’m reminding you, that hosted applications (software as a service) is a good thing, but when the service goes down you can’t just call a technician to fix it. You are at the mercy of the service provider.
A server or PC based product in your office, although you have the hassle of having to install it and making it available to remote employees can be challenging, at least if it does not work you have direct access to the software and computer and you or someone can fix it.
Did you know there was more than one way to access your Gmail account? Life Hacker provides several ones here.
I check out Google Docs and it is working just fine.
This experience reminds me of the importance of having a redundant email system. I use Gmail for newsletters and other “non-urgent” emails and I use another account for serious, day-to-day email use. The later service, Intermedia, is what I pay for ($40 per month) and it’s never been down for any noticeable length of time.
My concern is for those of you who have use a hosted option for your critical operations – be it email or something else. If your business relies on a software as a service provider you need to check the background of the host and ensure their uptime is at 99% – give or take. For example, the email service provider I use (Intermedia) is rock solid and quite stable. Their support is simply awesome as well. I’ve called them on occasion over this past year and each time the call was answered quickly and competently.