Google Site Reliability Engineers Hold Reddit Ask Me Anything During Gmail Outage

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 24 2014 3:54 PM

Google Site Reliability Engineers Hold Reddit Ask Me Anything During Gmail Outage

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A Googler's worst nightmare?

Mere seconds before today’s brief but tumultuous Gmail outage, a team of SREs (site reliability engineers) from Google announced a Reddit ask-me-anything forum scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Eastern. While most of the world spent the time clawing at their computer keyboards and shouting across offices, Reddit users pounced on the outage in no time, posting hilarious quips and trading questions regarding service availability while Google scrambled to address the problem. The very first post?

“Is GMail Down? :)”
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Some reacted with shock:

“That’s impossible the cloud never goes down!”
“So which one of these guys tripped over the power cord to The Cloud?”

Others delighted in the irony:

“what has been the biggest ‘oh shit!’ moment you guys have ever had?”

If we’re talking professional oh-shit moments, I think it’s safe to assume that “staring at the blank error screen for one of your company’s most relied-upon products less than an hour before facing a group of excited Redditors” is high up on the list.

The SREs in question actually focus on search, storage, and ads—so it’s unclear how much of a connection they have to the Gmail and Google Apps outage. That said, they seem to be very prepared for such an event (running drills for outages, for example), and have answered the questions in stride.

While the outage may have interrupted work for millions of users this Friday, it was certainly a much worse day for someone in Google’s offices.

For now, everything seems to be orderly and calm again. But don’t worry—Yahoo probably has tweets at the ready for the next outage.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Tyler Lopez is a writer living in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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