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Google News Hit With Another Outage Today (May 18, 2009)

May 18, 2009

Deja vu all over again: Four days after widespread outage, Google News hiccups

Less than a week after suffering a widespread outage, a Google Inc. Web site had another hiccup this morning.

Google confirmed this morning that its Google News news aggregation site went down between 8:35 a.m. EDT and 10 a.m. EDT today. Some users trying to pull up the site received a 503 Server Error message. It’s not clear how many users were affected or how wide a geographical area was affected.

“Earlier today, Google News was temporarily unavailable for some users,” said a spokesman for Google in an email to Computerworld. “This issue has now been resolved. We know how important Google News is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously. We apologize to those users who were affected.”

The glitch comes close on the heels of a much bigger outage last Thursday that affected most Google products.

At the time, Google Search and Google News performance slowed to a crawl, while a full outage spread through the hosted Google Apps products, from Gmail to Google Maps and Google Reader. Comments about the failure were flying on Twitter, and “#googlefail” quickly became one of the most-searched terms on the popular micro-blogging site.

The company reported that the May 14 outage, which started a little before 11 a.m. EDT, caused about 14% of Google users to face slow service or interruptions. The problem affected all Google products.

The started clearing up a little after noon EDT the same day.

Urs Hoelzle, Google senior vice president of Operations, said in a blog post that a system error directed some of their web traffic through Asia, creating the hangups and interruptions.

Caroline Dangson, an analyst for IDC, said outages made her glad she’s not dependent on Google Apps for her work.

“When we look at businesses dependent on Google Analytics or Gmail, they can’t afford to have Google crash on them,” she said. “It’s bad for business. The enterprise will start to consider using something that’s always on – more reliable. It’s a problem when you have this kind of hiccup system-wide and you’re not seen as dependable.”

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