On Sunday, June 2nd, Google’s cloud services experienced an outage that disrupted services in the US and Europe. It began at 12:30 PST and impacted not only Google services, but also services that rely on Google’s cloud functionality, such as Shopify, Snapchat, Discord, as well as many Apple cloud-based services, according to Vice.
“The network congestion issue in eastern USA, affecting Google Cloud, G Suite, and YouTube has been resolved for all affected users as of 4:00pm US/Pacific,” Google said in a statement. “We will conduct an internal investigation of this issue and make appropriate improvements to our systems to help prevent or minimize future recurrence. We will provide a detailed report of this incident once we have completed our internal investigation.”
Though Google was able to remedy the mysterious outage within a few hours, the whole debacle demonstrates how large a headache an outage creates when it controls so much of the market. Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), and Google (Google Cloud) collectively dominate the cloud computing market, which is worth $70 billion, so when one of those pillars shuts down, it affects millions of people. Centralizing all of your information makes for seamless connection between all of your devices and virtual belongings, but when that centralized point fails, you’re totally screwed.
The Google crash is not the first to prove flaws in the centralized data model. In 2017, a few errors made by an Amazon employee shut down numerous servers at an Amazon data center in Northern Virginia, causing popular apps like Slack and Quora to disconnect. Ironically, Google used the outage as a marketing technique to get Amazon users to switch over to their cloud.
Outages don’t just cause a nuisance. They can severely disrupt businesses who rely heavily on cloud services. Not being able to access certain integral features of their day to day business can cause their ability to provide services to slow and lead to lost clients. On a personal level, many people rely on the cloud to power their Internet of Things systems, such as a smart home, door locks, or baby monitors. It’s not hard to imagine how an outage in this realm can go as far as to affect personal safety.