A software upgrade that went wrong caused parts of the Google Docs cloud-hosted office productivity suite to go offline for an hour on Wednesday, a situation the company is taking steps to prevent.
The outage made word processing document lists, documents, drawings and Apps Scripts unavailable to most Docs users, including people who use the software for work. Apparently, presentations and spreadsheets weren’t affected.
Changes made to improve real-time collaboration capabilities in the suite triggered an unexpected memory management bug which in turn tripped the system.
“Since resolution, we have been assembling and scrutinizing the timeline of this event, and have assembled a list of steps which will both reduce the chance of a future event, decrease the time required to notice and resolve a problem, and limit the scope which any single problem can affect,” wrote Alan Warren, a Google engineering director, in a blog post on Friday.
Google will provide more details about the outage later in a formal report that will be posted on its Apps Status Dashboard, a website that lists the performance status of the applications in the cloud-based Google Apps collaboration and communication suite. Docs is a stand-
alone productivity suite that is also part of Apps.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and frustration which the outage has caused,” Warren wrote.
Google has high expectations for Apps’ adoption in large companies, and in recent years has been adding features that enterprise IT departments require. Widespread outages like Wednesday’s obviously don’t help in convincing CIOs to consider Apps.
However, Apps’ main competitor, Microsoft’s Office 365 and its successor Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, have had a number of serious outages in the past nine months.