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Feb 24 2009   1:54PM GMT

Lessons of the great Gfail saga

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

It’s been just a few hours, but it’s safe to say that the February 24 Gmail outage will go down in history as the day that proves that people get what they pay for.

Kneejerk reaction was that Microsoft, home of the great paid email Exchange colossus, will make hay about Gfail. But then again, Microsoft freebie Hotmail and its Exchange/Outlook duo have weathered their fair share of complaints. In fact, the most laughable tweet this morning was “Gee, Hotmail never goes down.” Oh, really??? You, my dear, have a short memory.

Microsoft is probably too busy digging itself out of an HR and PR nightmare it brought on itself by demanding that former employees pay back severance money to play up the Gmail failure, but who knows?

But back to the relative merits of email fiascos, since no one admits to actually paying for Gmail, how much can they really bark when it goes down in flames? Email VARs say that the very existence of Gmail (and Hotmail and Zimbra and etc.) makes it very easy for customers to push back on the price of Exchange and Lotus Domino.

Microsoft is pushing hard for credibility in hosted services a la Google and is putting the upcoming Exchange 14 through its paces as a hosted mail system. No one’s talking much aloud but solution providers involved say privately that Exchange 14-in-hosted-environments is rock solid, but then again they are Microsoft solution providers with a vested interest in its success.

You can bet that VARs, rather than vendors, could use Gfail to pitch supported, feature rich email for pay. They should start clipping the tweets and headlines from this morning: Sample: Gmail is down, down, down from the India Times. Trouble in the clouds: Gmail turns into Gfail from TechCrunch.

Hint to Google: When your mail service falls apart worldwide and thousands are posting notes about it, not a good idea to say the problem is limited to a small subset of users. Fess up and move on.

And for the Twitter naysayers–the Gfail search string shows how useful the sometimes-annoying service can be.

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