Perhaps getting its inspiration from President Obama's joint address to Congress and the American people this last Tuesday, Google has decided to also increase its transparency with the public. In actuality, Google's decision probably has more to do with Tuesday's Gmail outage
, which lasted for about two and a half hours. (The fact that both the President's address and the outage happened on the same day is surely just a coincidence... Although conspiracy theorists may say otherwise.)
| Google Apps Status Dashboard - 2/26/2009|
Google's ubiquity (and some might argue, hegemony), means that many, many people rely on the services Google provides. So when one of more of these services become unavailable, it can cause great consternation. Compounding matters even worse is that when these services go down and there is no recognition from Google that there is a problem or no communication to its users as to what the problem is and how Google is addressing it, users feel let down and frustrated--not to mention that some businesses can even suffer as result of such outages. With the increasing reliability of users on Internet-based services, such as growing Cloud computing solutions, communicating to users about the status of these services is just as important as keeping the services fully operational and accessible.
In recognition of all this, as well as in direct response to Tuesday's outage, Google's latest move in the name of transparency is the creation of the Google Apps Status Dashboard
. The Dashboard provides current as well as historical status information about Google services, such as Mail, Calendar, Documents, Spreadsheets, and Video for business (see the screenshot above for the complete list of the Google services that the Dashboard monitors). Icons for "No issues
," "Service disruption
," "Service outage
," and "Information available
," represent "the most severe issue (if any) encountered during that day
." At the time this news post was written, the Google Calendar service was displaying an "Information available
" icon for today's status. Clicking on the icon opened a new window that provided additional information about the status of the Google Calendar service (see the screenshot below).
| Google Calendar status for 2/26/2009|
Google is certainly not the first service provider to make the status of its services available to its users. When Apple revamped its .Mac service to its new MobileMe service, it experienced a significant amount of technical hiccups along the way. One of the things that Apple did to ameliorate the situation was to increase the transparency of the status of the MobileMe service by providing an online System Status
, as well as a History
of status issues. Even large ISPs, such as Comcast
also make the status of their services available to users (see the screenshot below).
| Comcast's Network Health Status on 2/26/2009|
This move towards increased transparency is a good one as it keeps users more informed. We can only hope that more service providers will follow suit, and perhaps take another page from the President's address and also focus on increased accountability as well.