Even as the world moaned Gmails failure on Tuesday, Internet giant Google admitted it had crashed its own data centres causing unavailability of the email service for close to four hours in India alone. But industry experts are not buying this excuse.?
Google said that during a routine maintenance of one of its European data centres, they had directed the traffic to other servers. However, they were simultaneously trying a new code that tries to keep data geographically close to its owner causing another data centre in Europe to become overloaded. This caused cascading problems from one data centre to another, said Gmail site reliability manager Acacio Cruz on early Wednesday morning. In short, Google crashed its own servers, unintentionally of course. However, analysts say Google may be covering up its failure by terming it a self-mistake.?
One indication of this is that since Google had put in place the Captcha system, distorted letters that can only be recognised by humans to rectify the error, this would have been done only in the case of a botneck attack. An attack where thousands of zombie PCs controlled by group of mischief-makers were asked to access Gmail simultaneously, resulting in a crash of Gmails data centres.?
If it was a maintenance issue, they would know where the traffic load came from causing the crash. Why would they put in place Captcha if the problem was at their end, said a Delhi-based analyst who did not want to be quoted. If it was really a code testing failure, they should have had the same side effects during their lab tests. Also, the response time to the problem should not have been four hours if it was an in-house cause, said the analyst.?
The other theory in place is that Google intentionally crashed its own servers during a live test to check if they were vulnerable to such external attacks. But this is not completely feasible as ideally such tests should be done in a controlled environment. Google might not want to accept this in public as users might question if this was, in reality, done by Google themselves or they were victimised, said a Mumbai-based analyst.?
On the other hand, Googles brand value might also take a hit. They are now in damage control mode and have offered customers 15 free days of service for an enhanced version of Gmail that costs $50 annually to placate businesses irked by the outage. This is the fourth such outage that Google has faced since 2008.?