Some customers of Google's Postini e-mail security product experienced significant problems Tuesday, with reports of hours-long delays in e-mail delivery that are still affecting some customers.
Threads throughout Google's Postini forums spread involving the issue, which seemed to begin overnight on System 7--one of several systems used by the service--and was still affecting some customers as of Tuesday afternoon, although e-mail delivery had resumed for others. Users also reported problems accessing the management consoles used to log into the Postini service, preventing them from understanding exactly what was happening.
Postini, acquired by Google in 2007, offers e-mail security services to businesses. Postini scans all e-mails directed to the networks of its customers for viruses, malware, and spam, passing along the genuine messages to the network once they have been cleared. However, Tuesday it appeared that for a significant portion of the morning, all messages for customers using System 7 were blocked before they reached their destination, and customers could not log into their accounts to see what was going wrong.
A Google representative acknowledged the e-mail delivery delays in a statement. "We're aware of an issue that's causing a delay in mail delivery for some Postini customers in the US, and are working to fix it as quickly as possible. We know how important mail is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously, and apologize for the inconvenience. We encourage anyone having technical difficulty to visit the Postini support portal at https://www.postini.com/support/support_login.php."
It has not been a good week for the cloud. Hosted applications and services such as Postini were sure to get a second look following the debacle at Microsoft involving the Sidekick and possible data loss.
It's also another example of Google's growing pains with customer support. Google Checkout customers reported significant issues for over a month without any resolution, and angry e-mail administrators on Postini's message boards complained that Google support personnel were very difficult to reach during Tuesday's issues.
Google support technicians promised some Postini customers--who pay between $12 per user per year and $25 per user per year--that their e-mails were not lost, which is at least some good news for customers affected by the problems. But running a business without e-mail in the 21st century is a very difficult thing to do.