Google's Asia Fail

By Conor Clarke

I was having some trouble with Google this morning, but it's kind of reassuring to know that several million people were having some trouble too. And yet this explanation from Google is not altogether reassuring: 



Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That's basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.

An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We've been working hard to make our services ultrafast and "always on," so it's especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We're very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we'll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won't happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.

The speculation that this was caused by a hacker will no doubt completely vanish now that we know it was just a vague system error or something.

Update, 7.10pm: I see that Wired has a cool graffic on what this looked like:

google screw up.png

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/05/googles-asia-fail/17585/