When the Monolith Wobbles

At the beginning of this week, I was alerted by TechCrunch to a new service being offered to convert all of your old e-mail and contacts from places like Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail into Google’s G-mail, so that you could start to become a G-Mail user.

G-mail is a great service for e-mail and I do a lot of my e-mailing from there. I was even considering discussing with my wife moving her e-mail from Hotmail to G-Mail. Then, the monolith wobbled, and I was reminded why having too many eggs in one basket can be a dangerous thing.

Let me explain. Google, in the political language of the day, is too big to fail. There are so many services that are absolutely dependent on Google to operate that if they fail, their entire business model breaks. Even more operations are severely hampered by an interruption in service and almost anyone on the Internet is at least effected. The Google monolith didn’t tip over on May 14th, but it did wobble a moment and woe to anyone who has become totally reliant on the company.

I first heard of a problem with the trending tag on Twitter #googlefail. (As a side note, this trend of forming a compound word out of the name of something that is ‘broken’ and “fail” is not a very useful one.) I clicked on an saw some people were not able to use the main search engine or access G-Mail. I quickly checked for myself and found it working. I then went to Google’s Apps Status Dashboard, which was created after the February incident where G-Mail went down for a period of time. Google had indicated there was a small service disruption.

Satisfied for the moment, I later checked Google News (Ah, the irony) to see if anybody had written about and found a quickly put together, but well written article by CNET describing what was known so far.  Included in that article is the very interesting story of someone on Twitter, who says that she was not able to access her bank’s website, because it uses Google Analytics to track user statistics.

This story, I think really gets down to the heart of the matter of where the real problem with Google lies. For many people, the first point of entry into the Internet is Google. Without it, those folks couldn’t get anywhere. For some websites like this user’s, without Google Analytics tracking your entry on to the website, you can’t even get on it. Without G-Mail, some business can’t take orders or execute their day-to-day operations.

So what does this mean for you? It means that you should think about how dependent you are on Google. I have G-mail, of course, but I also have a secondary e-mail on which I do a fair amount of communications. I also have other search engines on the ready if needed and know the addresses of many of the places I needed to go on the web manually.

Clearly, there is something to be said for not over reacting to what amounts to a couple hours worth of an outage but you should consider if the monolith ever does topple…how the Internet will look vastly different.

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