Ironically, less than 24 hours after a blog post that encouraged businesses to trust Google with their data, the cloud based Google Docs experienced approximately a 30 minute outage. The previously mentioned blog post had stated reasons businesses should trust Google with data including scalability, reliability, and a 99.99% uptime for the first half of 2011.
Google, who has been quiet in the hours following the outage, issued the following statement to customers:
“We are aware of an issue involving Google Docs and are working now to resolve it as quickly as possible. We will be updating the Apps Status Dashboard regularly. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
While every major occurrence of Google Apps downtime inevitably results in “risk of the cloud” arguments, most companies using internal servers will experience more frequent downtime as well as longer time per outage than companies using Google Docs. However, it is important for businesses utilizing Google Docs to back up this data on a local machine (or elsewhere) to prevent a Google Docs outage from crippling an entire office. Last week, Google announced the ability to access Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar offline. This feature, which was originally announced at Google I/O, will allow users to access information during outages and when they are offline.
There are several third-party solutions that will provide an automatic backup of a Google Apps account. These independent backups, which can be securely stored on the Amazon S3 cloud or a local machine, will reduce the risks associated with off-site document storage and can allow for improved productivity during future outages.
The Google Mail and Calendar services were unaffected by the Google Docs outage.