Google has admitted that it ran out of disk space for part of its Google+ social networking service, resulting in a storm of alert notifications to users.
Vic Gundotra, SVP of Social [networking] at Google posted the following on his Google+ profile, “For about 80 minutes we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications. Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over, and over again. Yikes”.
Apologizing for the spam-like alert notifications, he added that Google did not expect to hit the threshold so fast, claiming that they underestimated the response to this new service. Indeed, it is surprising to learn that Google suffered such an outage, given the fact that it is known to have an infrastructure capable of handling such a situation.
Indeed, if Facebook has over 750 million members, surely Google, as a direct competitor, would be gearing up to have just as many users in a few years time, if not sooner. It’s very hard to imagine that Google wouldn’t have the money and manpower to make this work smoothly, so it appears to have been a major oversight to fail to anticipate how much data it would be dealing with in the early days.
This partially explains why Google decided to opt for a field trial instead of opening the service up to everyone all at once. If it had done the latter it would have run out of disk space far more quickly and we would have all been greeted with a flurry of notifications.
A full-fledged service requiring no invitation to join would have resulted in catastrophic consequences. Nevertheless, Google+ is working to address the situation according to another post by the SVP. Let’s hope they do not use our Gmail space for that purpose.