Rain Cloud

Cloud computing took a hit today.

Gmail, the free (to most) online email service from Google, suffered a two hour outage today, just after 930am GMT.

Some used were also locked out of Google Apps, which required a Gmail password to access.

As of the time of writing, Google still has not said what caused the problem.

Gmail is one of the leading case studies used to promote cloud computing, the idea that computing functions can be performed over the internet, eliminating the need for local software and file storage.

Instead of storing everything on a local computer – your desktop or portable laptop – all your work is kept ‘out there’ on the internet, somewhere in the clouds.

Trouble is, as many people realised today, computing in the clouds means relying on someone else to make sure you can get your work done.

Of course this isn’t the first time an online mailing service has failed, and it won’t be the last.

And as early adopters of cloud computing services will tell you, locally hosted servers and hard drives crash too.

But this time, because it’s Google, everyone noticed.

And that will give the late adopters pause for thought.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.