Posts Tagged ‘GMail’

New file upload in Gmail

Friday 27 February 2009

Probably the cause of the GMail downtime this week: gmail has released a new file upload feature Composing a mail you can now select multiple files at once to upload.  

gmail-upload

A great improvement, bringing the experience of the web even more closer to a fat client. Some critique: I think the visual design could benefit from a more tabular structure.  See for a good example one of the interaction design libraries online.

For more information see the google blog.

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GMail outage and reliability

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Gmail has had an outage today. Being at home and doing some private business, this is a reminder just how accustomed I have become to this service being operational always. Internet connectivity has become a basic utility just like electricity and water. And this happened in a time frame of about 10 years. I got my first ADSL connection back in 1998, obtaining, activation and configuring the line to work was still an experience rather than something which happened daily.

The regular post is a system we have can rely on most of the time, it just works. GMail has the same promise. What we often do not realize is the technology and experience to run these online services is relatively new and experience is not easily found. Google has invented its proprietary architecture to run its search and many of its other services. They make heavily use of three concepts:

  • small units, that are easy to replace
  • redundancy, when one part of the system fails an other can take over
  • compartmentalization, when a failure exists the cause can be easily identified

Incidentally the normal post system uses the same principles to handle the enormous amount of letters each day.

The pioneering work from Google is now becoming a available from commercial vendors and service providers as well. Nick named cloud computing, the complete physical layer from the infrastructure has become an abstraction that well… just works. Always.