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Gmail Goes Down  Again

Google has been aggressively positioning its Gmail mail service as an alternative to Microsofts Exchange line and had a great deal of success in the small and medium business sector. However, the services reliability has been an ongoing concern, and it was knocked offline once this week.
Google has been aggressively positioning its Gmail mail service as an alternative to Microsofts Exchange line and had a great deal of success in the small and medium business sector. However, the services reliability has been an ongoing concern, and it was knocked offline once this week.Gmail has some appealing features, starting with its price. The cloud based email system costs about $50 per user, per year and that includes Gmail's other functions, such as shared calendaring, Google docs, instant messaging and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Staying with a premise based systems, such as Microsoft Exchange, requires buying several servers and paying a hodgepodge of user licensing fees.

Deployment and maintenance can be simpler. Typically, maintaining a premise email system requires a staff of a few (or maybe several) people. With a cloud based approach, companies hand those tasks over to a third party and can redeploy those services to other projects. Because of the Internets reach, the Google approach is very scalable and can scale up to handle large influxes of mail faster and more effectively than premise based systems typically can.

However, Google has struggled with reliability and a handful of incidents its Gmail servers have been knocked offline. In August 2008, the company had a couple outages within a two week period and one took more than 18 hours to fix. In February 2009, the system went dark for several hours. This week, it appears that the system was once again knocked offline for an extended period of time. So, small and medium businesses face a difficult question: Should they trade reliability for a lower cost, simpler to maintain email system?