Google Glitches Are The New Snow Days

Remote students will never know the joy of waiting by the TV on a snowy morning to hear that
school has been canceled. Their equivalent? A 502 error message from Google.

Yesterday morning Google suffered an “authentication system outage” that took out Google Classroom, Gmail, YouTube, and its suite of work collaboration tools.

School’s Out

With as many as 74% of schools operating virtually in states like New York, Google’s ed-tech platform Google Classroom has become ubiquitous. Users of the online portal doubled by April and reached 100 million in June.

Yesterday’s outage only lasted from 6:47 AM to 7:32 AM ET, but the forty-five-minute window was enough to wreak havoc on the millions of students and teachers who rely on Google Classroom and Google Meet.

  • Some high schools managed with just a two-hour delay, but others (such as schools in Westland, Michigan) gave its roughly 9,800 students the day off.

“As a parent of 2 virtual HS students the timeline of outage reaction: jubilation, then despair when @YouTube didn’t work, further sadness when Google classroom was back up,” wrote one parent on Twitter.

It’s Google’s World, We’re Just Living In It

While students cheered, Monday morning fell briefly into chaos for the millions working from home.

  • Gadgets integrated with Google Assistant went haywire. One Nest Hub owner was unable to control their smart heater according to The Verge and some Google Home users spent all morning in the dark.
  • Even Google employees couldn’t access their emails: BBC reported that a representative said they were unable to comment because they couldn’t access Gmail.

But Google’s alleged monopoly is bigger than Covid-19 or the remote work boom. And as long as school and work stay virtual, the world will always be reliant on their IT guys.

The Takeaway: Based on Google’s own precedent, nothing’s changing anytime soon. On Monday, CEO Sundar Pichai delayed Google’s return-to-the-office date to September 2021 and proposed “flexible” in-office requirements when they go back.