IMAP And Ajax UI Temporarily Go AWOL On GmailIMAP And Ajax UI Temporarily Go AWOL On Gmail
It happened all at once today (and maybe that's why Gmail is still in "beta" after all these years). Both the Web interface and my various e-mail clients (Outlook, my smartphone) that were accessing my enterprise Gmail account seized up on me completely. Standalone Gmail account holders were affected, too (according to a <a href="http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=imap+gmail">blogsearch</a> on the matter). The cause? An AWOL IMAP interface caused the mail clients to clam up and most of Gm
April 16, 2008
It happened all at once today (and maybe that's why Gmail is still in "beta" after all these years). Both the Web interface and my various e-mail clients (Outlook, my smartphone) that were accessing my enterprise Gmail account seized up on me completely. Standalone Gmail account holders were affected, too (according to a blogsearch on the matter). The cause? An AWOL IMAP interface caused the mail clients to clam up and most of Gmail's Ajax-like functionality vanished at the same time, causing serious browser indigestion. What are the implications?The timing couldn't have been worse, given the recent execution of a SaaS tag-team powerplay by Google and Salesforce.com, both of whom are in the market with the message that you don't need local software to get the job done. Prior to that announcement, Salesforce.com played nicest with Outlook. But now, with seamless integration into Google applications like Gmail and Google Calendar, there are no doubt some shops that will look into ditching Outlook (a baby step for some toward ditching Microsoft Office or Microsoft altogether).
I won't opine on the ditching MS angle. Outlook, as it turns out, is actually the best e-mail client for accessing Gmail through Gmail's IMAP interface, as long as it's up. One reason for this is the way Outlook integrates mail and calendaring (how I wish Thunderbird or MacMail would do this). Outlook also is more deft than the other two at transparently switching into an offline mode if the need arises (like your Wi-Fi goes on the blink, which mine occasionally does). But no mail client is going to handle what happened today very gracefully. If the mail client is looking for imap.gmail.com to retrieve its mail and imap.gmail.com is gone (which it was), you're going to get errors. Not only did Outlook spit out errors. So, too, did my browser interface to Gmail (I keep it active because it's faster at searching my e-mail). At first, I couldn't figure out why Firefox choked because my accounts seemed to be accessible via Safari. But, upon closer inspection, all the highly interactive Ajax-y features in the Gmail interface that I've grown to know and love were gone as well. Safari was showing me what appeared to be the old, blocky, very text-oriented interface to Gmail. That might explain why Firefox choked. My current "page" had Ajax code on it, but there was probably nothing on the Google end of things transmitting or receiving the messages that keep Ajax interfaces so active. Logging Firefox out of Gmail and back in again eliminated the seizure, but I still had the old, blocky interface that Safari was showing. I've got messages into my contacts at Google to find out what happened and will report back here once I found out more. But, what are the implications? Somewhere at some business where all the users were tying into a Google Apps-based version of Gmail, someone's phone probably started ringing off the hook. Maybe it was the CFO or the CEO who set his/her entire company up with Google Apps because of how easy it is to do (it's VERY easy) and how s/he's avoiding all sorts of costs associated with running something like Microsoft's Exchange Server or Lotus Notes (including the people needed to run those things). But today comes the flip side to the argument. Something goes haywire at Google (there was no announcement, warning, or post to the official Gmail blog before this happened) and what would that CFO or CEO do next? Basically, there's nothing s/he can do about it except wait until Google fixes it (I thought of switching my clients to Gmail's still-active POP interface until the IMAP interface was fixed, but that is most definitely not a good idea). Even more of a challenge for CxO's taking the Google, Salesforce, et alia shortcut (a shortcut I still favor, by the way), is what happens if applications like Gmail and Salesforce are integrated into each other in a way that a failure of one stifles the functionality of the other. Have some thoughts on this? Did you experience the outage differently than I did? Feel free to comment below.
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