When Gmail had a massive worldwide failure a couple days ago, a lot of users were angry. And rightfully so — even though it was only for a few hours, some people are paying Google to use Gmail for their work. While Google has already promised 15 days of free service to make up for the downtime, people are still questioning whether Google’s cloud is really the way to go for their business apps. So today, Google is taking another step, launching a full dashboard to let you know the status of its apps.
The Apps Status Dashboard not only tells you the current status of services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and a host of others, it also shows you what, if any, problems there have been over the past week. (And if you click the “More” link at the bottom, you can go back even further.) For example, under Google Mail (the name of the service in other countries since Gmail was taken), you’ll see two days of problems — on the 20th and the 24th. Clicking on the information icon, shows you exactly what the problem was, and the steps taken to resolve it.
This type of transparency is nice — and necessary. It reminds me of when Twitter was failing last year, but the company wouldn’t even bother to tell any of its users what was going on. This led to everyone getting pissed off. When the company simply started communicating and launched things like the Twitter Status Blog, people were still annoyed when the service failed, but at least they felt in the loop and weren’t as angry and dumbfounded.
Google also notes other resources to check with a service goes down, in a post on the Google Enterprise blog. I still believe it’s unreasonable to think that any service is going to stay up all the time — even if you are paying for it. After all, things like the power, water and cable go out from time to time in your home even though you pay for those too. But it’s all about communication when services fail, and this is a smart play in that direction by Google.