Yes, Gmail went down briefly this afternoon, along with Google+ and a handful of the company's web services, sparking a mad race to make the funniest joke about it on Twitter.
However, Google may have inadvertently made the funniest joke about it themselves. At roughly the same time Gmail and G+ users lost service, Google's Site Reliability Engineering team began a Reddit AMA, or "Ask Me Anything," session soliciting Reddit users to ask the company any question they wanted. The AMA appears to have been posted at 2:05 p.m. eastern time. A Google app status post claims the Gmail issues were first reported at 2:12 p.m. eastern time.
And although the Google Site Reliability Engineering team directed Reddit users to keep up with the Gmail outage on the Google App status page, Reddit users had their fun, pointing out the irony and asking what they do in the event of a Gmail outage like the one they were living through at the moment.
At the time this was posted, only one member of the team responded to a question about the Gmail outage. When a user asked "How do you coordinate a response to something like a GMail outage without email?" The Googler, identified as Marc Alvidrez, SRE TLM (Tech Lead Manager) from Mountain View working on Social, Ads and infra, responded:
SRE is all about having backup systems with as few dependencies as possible. :-)
UPDATE: Now that the outage appears to have been fixed, it looks like Google's SRE team is more open to talking about it. Shortly after I published this, another member of Google's SRE team answered a question about the fallout from an outage like this, and suggested that the team stil uses pagers.
When an issue may be occurring, an automatic alert system will ring someone’s pager (hopefully not mine!). Nearly all of our problems are caused by changes to our systems (either human or automated), so the first step is playing the "what is different game."
I'm still not sure she wasn't using the term "pager" as a way to suggest an app on their smartphones or something, because I just have trouble believing that Google employees are using pagers.