Google’s Gmail service was unavailable to "a small number of users" on Oct. 15 and 16, prompting new questions about the wisdom of using web services hosted offsite, InformationWeek reports. In the Google Apps Discussion Group on Google Groups, someone posting under the name Bill W., who apparently plays a role in IT administration for Alachua County Public Schools in Gainesville, Fla., expressed frustration Oct. 16 with his inability to escalate the issue for faster resolution. "Since yesterday around at least 4 p.m. my CEO cannot access his mail," his post says. "He gets a 502 temporary error. Support keeps telling me it is affecting a small number of users. This is not a temporary problem if it lasts this long. It is frustrating to not be able to expedite these issues." This, of course, is the downside of any outsourced service, as vendors of on-premises software gladly point out. In July, when Amazon Web Services’ Simple Storage Service (S3) suffered a service failure for about eight hours, some S3 customers expressed similar worries about the suitability of S3 for businesses. Others dismissed S3’s various outages as "few and far between, short, and handled properly"…

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