Posted August 27, 2008 9:57 pm by with 11 comments

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As a paying Google Apps customer, the lack of communication during recent outages left a bad taste in my mouth.

I’m pleased to report that I just received an email from Google with details of many improvements coming our way. These are much needed and welcomed.

We’re committed to making Google Apps Premier Edition a service on which your organization can depend. During the first half of August, we didn’t do this as well as we should have. We had three outages – on August 6, August 11, and August 15. The August 11 outage was experienced by nearly all Google Apps Premier users while the August 6 and 15 outages were minor and affected a very small number of Google Apps Premier users. As is typical of things associated with Google, these outages were the subject of much public commentary.

Through this note, we want to assure you that system reliability is a top priority at Google. When outages occur, Google engineers around the world are immediately mobilized to resolve the issue. We made mistakes in August, and we’re sorry. While we’re passionate about excellence, we can’t promise you a future that’s completely free of system interruptions. Instead, we promise you rapid resolution of any production problem; and more importantly, we promise you focused discipline on preventing recurrence of the same problem.

Given the production incidents that occurred in August, we’ll be extending the full SLA credit to all Google Apps Premier customers for the month of August, which represents a 15-day extension of your service. SLA credits will be applied to the new service term for accounts with a renewal order pending. This credit will be applied to your account automatically so there’s no action needed on your part.

We’ve also heard your guidance around the need for better communication when outages occur. Here are three things that we’re doing to make things better:

1. We’re building a dashboard to provide you with system status information. This dashboard, which we aim to make available in a few months, will enable us to share the following information during an outage:

     a. A description of the problem, with emphasis on user impact. Our belief is during the course of an outage, we should be singularly focused on solving the problem. Solving production problems involves an investigative process that’s iterative. Until the problem is solved, we don’t have accurate information around root cause, much less corrective action, that will be particularly useful to you. Given this practical reality, we believe that informing you that a problem exists and assuring you that we’re working on resolving it is the useful thing to do.
     b. A continuously updated estimated time-to-resolution. Many of you have told us that it’s important to let you know when the problem will be solved. Once again, the answer is not always immediately known. In this case, we’ll provide regular updates to you as we progress through the troubleshooting process.

2. In cases where your business requires more detailed information, we’ll provide a formal incident report within 48 hours of problem resolution. This incident report will contain the following information:

a. business description of the problem, with emphasis on user impact;
b. technical description of the problem, with emphasis on root cause;
c. actions taken to solve the problem;
d. actions taken or to be taken to prevent recurrence of the problem; and
e. time line of the outage.

3. In cases where your business requires an in-depth dialogue about the outage, we’ll support your internal communication process through participation in post-mortem calls with you and your management team.

Once again, thanks for you continued support and understanding.

The Google Apps Team

(emphasis added)

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  • That’s what I like about google. They listen to us

  • Appsuser

    While I applaud Google for the additional upgrade of services to their Premier SLA, what would you have done differently, knowing what happened?

    I was not affected by the outage with our Apps service, but I also have backup services for mission critical communications. The service as any other service is open to the possibility of failure, there is no 100% guarantee that it will not fail.

    For just $50 annually per account,just over $4 a month you are saving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars using other services, yet people complain when unexpected outages occur. Backup services for email are inexpensive, so for the money you are saving, paying additional for a backup service is like the insurance you would by for your car, home, business, etc.

    And by the way, Google Apps Standard is a free service, so for those complaining about the outage will need to get over it.

  • They’re pretty good at apologizing to customers whenever outages occur, however, I wonder if there’s a plan in place to prevent such outages in the first place? So far, it doesn’t seem like there is one, and Google’s inability to offer and respect the SLAs may be the reason why they have virtually no major customers for Apps (they’re likely using Sharepoint or other platforms that are seen as being more reliable).

  • Very interesting comments.!
    I’m seo.

  • Otilia, Please expand on your comment, “Google’s inability to offer and respect the SLAs”. Have read Google’s SLA for their Premier paid service?

    As a multiple user of Gmail and Google Apps Premier, we experienced no downtime at all, zero.

    IMO, the money is not with the Fortune 500, but with the the smaller SMB that needs to stretch their expenses further to meet their needs.

    As a disclaimer, we are a Google/Postini partner, that offers the stand alone Message Security services.

  • At last Google had become serious about its customers……..

    SEO forums’s last blog post..At last Google Referral ads are down.

  • It is good way to listen to their user! I appreciate Google for it very much!

    Christmas’s last blog post..Christmas Office Party Games

  • Looks like Google want to grab a bigger portion of the traffic again? Its amazing on how Google is trying to improve.

    Wei Liang’s last blog post..Will High PR Give You Higher Traffic ?

  • What business could survive without improving? If you become stale, customers go away. We all have ideas on what we like and do not like, and that can be difficult in developing products and services to reach across the spectrum of users.

    Google like any company wants to hear from you, good or bad, but not so much about how they do not care, because they do. As they say, be part of the solution, not the problem.

    All the pundits out there jumping all over Google for what, trying to offer a cost effective service and for many that do not pay for it? Come on, get off the soap boxes to pad your blog or pat yourself on the back for predicting something of the obvious.

  • Listening to your customers is a win-win situation, and Google have nailed it.

    Daniel Cooper’s last blog post..VELUX Duo Blinds – 2 in 1 – Blackout & Pleated!