[caption id="attachment_1263" align="aligncenter" width="618" caption="Those little red dots made more than one Gmail user howl in rage this morning."] [/caption] Google’s Gmail service seems to be up and running after an outage affecting a portion of its user base for a couple of hours. “We’re experiencing an issue affecting less than 0.11 percent of the Google Mail user base,” read a message posted on Google’s Apps Status Dashboard at 10:05 AM EST. “The affected users are unable to access Google Mail.” Without announcing a root cause to the problem, Google posted another message at 11:50 AM EST declaring the issue “resolved.” Of course, that didn’t stop outraged Web denizens from taking to Twitter, Facebook, and other services to vent their ire. Earlier this year, Google CEO Larry Page told investors that Gmail had more than 350 million users. Based on that, some 385,000 Gmail users were affected by this morning’s outage. This isn’t the first instance of a Gmail downtime incidence or bug. In February 2011, some 0.02 percent of Gmail users found their emails temporarily deleted. “In some rare instances software bugs can affect several copies of the data,” Ben Treynor, Google’s vice president of Engineering and Site Reliability Czar, wrote in a corporate blog posting at the time. “Some copies of mail were deleted, and we’ve been hard at work over the last 30 hours getting it back for the people affected by this issue.” Nor is Google the only major cloud company affected by the occasional snafu. In February, some users of Microsoft’s Windows Azure found their service disrupted by a bug associated with the Leap Year. “It was determined to be caused by a software bug,” Bill Laing, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Cloud, wrote in a Feb. 29 corporate blog posting. “While final root-cause analysis is in progress, this issue appears to be due to a time calculation that was incorrect for the leap year.” If downtime is a fact of life when dealing with the cloud, it’s become an ever-more-critical one thanks to the number of small and large businesses using such services to host email, build apps, and transmit data. Fortunately, instances of wide-scale data loss are few and far between; and the occasional hours of downtime haven’t yet dissuaded many businesses (and consumers) from shifting a larger portion of their computing needs off-premises and into the cloud.   Image: Google