Popular sites including YouTube, Gmail, Snapchat and G Suite apps were briefly unavailable over the weekend due to an outage at Google Cloud, which could highlight to many businesses the importance of having resilient solutions and contingency plans in place for their own cloud-based offerings.

While Google has not explained the cause of the downtime, the company said it has been dealing with high levels of congestion on Sunday, which caused many popular consumer and business services to be inaccessible to users for around four hours.

Users on the east coast of the US were most heavily affected, with ZDNet reporting the source of the problem was said to be traced to Level 3, an US-based ISP that provides connectivity and various other services to Google data centres.

Other sites that were impacted by the downtime included Shopify, Vimeo, Nest and Apple’s iCloud, all of which rely on Google Cloud infrastructure.

The incident should serve as a reminder to all users of cloud computing of the importance of having contingency plans in place to ensure they can continue to operate in the event of problems at their provider.

Therefore, firms that are migrating to the cloud should consider the potential risks of entrusting critical services to one provider, which may result in them having a single point of failure.

To avoid this, having contingencies and backups that can kick in if a primary cloud service goes down is a must. While providers may be required to compensate firms for any downtime that exceeds that set out in their service level agreement (SLA), this may not make up for any lost business that occurs as the result of the downtime.

Google said: “We will conduct an internal investigation of this issue and make appropriate improvements to our systems to help prevent or minimise future recurrence.”

The firm added it will provide a detailed report of the incident once it has completed an internal investigation, which will include information concerning any SLA credits customers may be entitled to.

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