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Google Fixes Outage-Causing Flaw In App-Hosting Platform

The search engine also introduced paid service plans for its Web site Optimizer, an online tool for testing a site's content for its effectiveness in reaching visitors.

Google on Thursday said it has fixed the technical snafu that brought down the search engine's Web application hosting service for several hours this week.

Also on Thursday, Google introduced paid service plans for its Web site Optimizer, an online tool for testing a site's content for its effectiveness in reaching visitors.

On its App Engine outage, Google engineers identified the root cause of the flaw that returned errors to data-store queries from subscribers' hosted sites on Tuesday, Pete Koomen, product manager for the service, said. To correct the problem, Google implemented controls to ensure that queries would no longer trigger the flaw and "bugs like this in the future don't affect the stability of the systems as a whole."

"All of our systems are currently operating smoothly," Koomen said.

The outage started about 6:30 a.m. Pacific time with error returns to a small percentage of data-store requests. The number of error returns increased significantly between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and again at 12:40 p.m. before Google was able to isolate the problem and bring the system back to normal.

Other Internet companies, such as online retailer, are also offering so-called "cloud computing" services. Potential corporate customers, however, have remained wary, because of a number of concerns, such as whether they would get locked into a single vendor with their data or applications held hostage, or would consumer-oriented vendors such as Google and Amazon stay in the corporate IT business for the long haul? There's also the question of government regulations that may not allow certain data to be hosted outside an organization.

With the new Web Optimizer services, Google was responding to users who wanted live technical assistance, and not just the free online resources offered by the company. To address the demand, Google has put together a list of authorized consultants who have agreed to offer hourly services in three packages.

The first is $250 an hour to answer specific questions. There's a maximum of one call per hour. The second is $600 for three hours to deal with more complex issues. The time must be used up within six months. The third is $1,200 for eight hours of consultation over 12 months.

Services include design, set-up and implementation, report analysis, a la carte incident consultation, phone and Internet-chat support and personalized training.

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