Lost Gmail - Email Hosting Challenges



May 24, 2007

Email is becoming an increasingly complex and unreliable medium. We expect email to be instantaneous and all pervasive. We depend on it arriving moments after it is sent because it almost always does.

Last fall we switched to using Google's Apps domain hosting service to see if we couldn't test out this product before recommending it to our clients. Email hosting is a difficult thankless task because it has become such a critical form of communications. In general we've been very happy with the services provided by Google - particularly with spam reduction. But even with all of the resources in the Googleplex emails sometimes still take a wrong turn and get lost. Here's some of the records from the email header of an email that was sent to me earlier today:

Received: by with SMTP id i19cs758620wac; Thu, 24 May 2007 14:48:10 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with SMTP id n8mr1922884anf.1180033025280; Thu, 24 May 2007 11:57:05 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from py-out-1112.google.com (py-out-1112.google.com []) by mx.google.com with   ESMTP id 3si1551395wrs.2007.; Thu, 24 May 2007 11:57:05 -0700 (PDT)

Why this message took nearly 5 hrs to travel within their internal network I don't expect to ever know (and they may not know either). It isn't really important however for the sake of this posting. What is important is that because of Google's reputation as tech gods and their nearly infinite resources most people would never question the service and would likely assume that it had something to do with what they did. If this delay happened in a smaller company their reputation would be at stake.

OpenConcept does provide both web and email hosting, mostly because we believe that it is important to give our clients the option of hosting their email with a trusted Canadian company.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.