It's not been a very good week for Google. After a serious outage that killed all Google services on Monday morning, it also had to contend with another Gmail outage yesterday afternoon (December 15).
Neither outage lasted for very long, but it leaves us with a lot of questions. Like what the heck is going on at Google for two serious outages to happen in as many days?
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Yesterday's Gmail outage saw the service go down at 4.30 p.m. ET. While not all users were affected, a large number of them were met with error messages, email bounce backs, high latency, and other similar issues. While the problem was fixed, and normal service resumed at 7 p.m. ET, Google hasn't told us exactly what the cause was.
Fortunately, Monday's issue isn't so mysterious, with Google publishing the preliminary details of the outage over on its blog. Named “Google Cloud Infrastructure Components incident 20013," it turns out the problem was with Google's automated storage management system. It suffered a problem that reduced the capacity of Google’s authentication system, meaning Google wasn't able to tell which users were authenticated and which ones weren't.
So that one problem went on to interfere with every system that required login details, which is pretty much all of them. Particularly affected were Google’s own Cloud Platform and Google Workspace. Most people would have been hit by issues with the latter, since Workspace is the service behind the likes of Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Drive, and so on.
“The root cause was an issue in our automated quota management system which reduced capacity for Google's central identity management system, causing it to return errors globally," Google explained. "As a result, we couldn’t verify that user requests were authenticated and served errors to our users.”
Thankfully, knowing the details of Monday’s outage, and the fact it fixed last night's Gmail issues, means Google can hopefully take measures to see it doesn’t happen again.