C. Warren Axelrod

Google Plus – Disk Space Minus, Spam Double Minus

Google’s foray into Facebook’s space hit an unfortunate glitch during its “field trial” … the system ran out of disk space and was down for more than an hour and those users, who were affected, received a deluge of emails … see Graham Cluley’s post “Google+ runs out of disk space, spams users with notifications” at http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/07/10/google-runs-out-of-disk-space-spams-users-with-notifications

This event was particularly troublesome. First, it doesn’t help user acceptance to have a new service fail during its initial tryout period, even though everyone is given to understand that the purpose of a trial is to flush out such problems. Secondly, for the many who see cloud computing, with its “infinite” processing power and storage, as the model of future systems, it was particularly disturbing to see that the Google+ notification system failed because it ran out of storage. Add to that the spamming of users and you have a double whammy against user confidence in the abilities of a premier company, such as Google, to manage its systems resources and the functioning of its applications under error conditions.

While it is true that the Web has substantial resiliency and that most issues, though not all, affect only a minority of customers and have relatively short durations, it is more a matter of recognizing how easily the integrity of systems can waiver and fail. And that is just the human-error component. You can be sure that potential attackers are taking notes. If major systems can fail badly without outside interference, just imagine what a concerted effort might do. Google may have more or less dodged the bullet this time, but systems are only getting more complicated and interrelated, raising concern that future glitches might have much greater consequences.

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