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During Monday, Google suffered a major outage that saw most of its services go down around the world. With Gmail, YouTube, and Google Cloud all offline, it was a stunning collapse. Now the company is explaining what the cause of this massive issue was.

Google calls the episode the “Google Cloud Infrastructure Components Incident 20013”. The company points out a fall in capacity for its central identity-management system was the root of the problem.

Because the system collapsed, any service that requires user log in could not work properly. Deeper down, Google says the identity-management system failed because of a problem in the company’s automated storage quota management system.

Google Cloud was hit by the problem, which means fundamental systems could not operate. With the Cloud Console, BigQuery, Cloud Storage, and Google Kubernetes Engine all down, services like Gmail and YouTube also failed.

Most of Google’s core services rely on cloud interaction. With Google Cloud down, products that did not work include the Google Workspace platform. This is the company’s rebranded G Suite. It contains Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Calendar, Drive, and more.

Industry Problems

2020 has provided some unique challenges for cloud vendors, even the biggest. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, demand has been immense. We have seen the three major providers, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud all suffer outages.

However, it is unclear is any of them were ultimately caused by higher demand. In November, Amazon Web Services wen down for five hours, much longer than Google’s 50-minute outage yesterday.

A month before, in September, Microsoft Azure had its own issues which returned again in October. Microsoft sent an update to the Azure status page showing issues with Azure Active Directory and Networking as the cause.

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