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What does Google Cloud’s Outage Signify?

Demystifying a common myth surrounding Cloud Computing.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

As most of us would be aware of by now, the world witnessed a disruption of a lot of Google Services that were consumer-facing.

If you’re still not aware, here’s a summary of what happened after 11 AM on December 14th.

Most of Google Cloud’s infrastructure components reported authentication issues across the Eastern Seaboard on products such as YouTube, Gmail, G-Suite, and a host of other products. A majority of the users started encountering 500 (Internal Server Error)and 502 (Bad Gateway) error codes.

The Root Cause Analysis (RCA) report attributed the issue to Google’s automated storage Quota Management System, which decreased the capacity of the authentication system.

As a consequence, the users were either not able to login to Google Services or were automatically logged out. This outage, a third huge one for Google, lasted for 45 minutes and was internally tagged as ‘Google Cloud Infrastructure Components incident 20013’.

You can read more about the other significant online services outage which happened in the second quarter of 2020 here. Although such crashes are inevitable, such incidents raise eyebrows on technologies which were deemed to be “invincible”.

Demystifying the Tech

The recent outage was mainly experienced by the products hosted in Google Cloud. Though the issue just lasted for 45 minutes, it still resulted in millions of customer devices going down which caused a huge loss in revenue.

Google Stocks drastically wavered as soon as the outage began. This, in itself, explains how one is solely dependent on the cloud for mission-critical operations.

We’ve read that Cloud Computing is so powerful that the operational efficiency is inexhaustible and there would be no downtime of applications.

But, the latest Cloud Outage shows that this is NOT the case.

In fact, this is still true with all of the technologies at present which have their own pros and cons.

The biggest question that arises out of such outages is — Is it wise to lay all the eggs in the same basket?

The answer is — No.

Cloud Computing is not invincible and all such Cloud-based applications are bound to experience downtime at some point in time, if not frequently.

“There are going to be outages and shutdowns for public cloud. Corporations that rely solely on public cloud to function and run are putting their businesses at risk for loss of revenue, security vulnerabilities and unexpected losses in productivity.” — Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook.

Using a Hybrid Approach

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

It’s sensible to use a hybrid approach when it comes to mission-critical operations rather than completely depending on an individual vendor.

“Often times, the on-premise solutions are more cost-effective 85–90% than moving to the public cloud.” — Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies.

Although the possibility of outages still exists, one can avoid a complete downtime by ensuring that the most important applications stay on-prem.

This means that the control lies in your own hands now and you can take adequate steps to ensure backups in case a primary component goes down.

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures are meaningful to medium and enterprise clients, but most small companies do not have the capacity to operate a hybrid cloud environment.

“We had one large company that had an $11 million charge over-run in a single quarter because of egress fees associated with moving data back and forth for a development environment.” — Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook.

They may not have the resources to expend on backups or multiple internet connections which is typical for mid-market and enterprise clients.

In the midst of the pandemic when billions of businesses are shifting to the cloud, it’s possible that the public cloud might have hit its constraints.

So, these were my key takeaways from the recent Google Cloud outage that inspired me to write this. I hope I gave you a glimpse of how the cloud is also vulnerable to downtimes and there are no deterministic solutions to such events, at least at the present. I’d love to hear your responses on this :).

Thanks for reading till the end of the post! If you liked my writing, just hit the follow button on Medium to receive more such updates. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and come say 👋.

Have a wonderful day!

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Abishaik Mohan

Abishaik Mohan

Quality Engineer @ Extreme Networks

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