Google Maps Crash – Why it’s tough to rely on API’s

| September 8, 2007 | Reply

Today is Saturday, about 11:30 PST. I tried to do a search on Google for a new restaurant called "Currant" here in San Diego (I hear their food is good!). I kept getting a timeout error (www.google.com). Weird. So, I did a yahoo search and it came up fine.

Wanting to get more info on the new joint, I tried Yelp. Yelp’s home page loaded fine, but when I searched for Currant San Diego, I noticed the page trying to load, but getting stuck on the google maps integration.

Uh oh…

We use a mashup of Google maps as well. I hopped over and did a search for piano instructors in NYC. Not good. The page took 68 seconds to load, and the map failed.

Cfl_map_failure_2

Then I tried loading http://maps.google.com. Yep. Something is wrong over at the Googleplex. The images wouldn’t load at all. This is the return search I got.

Google_map

As an entrepreneur, it’s a constant struggle to know what to build, and what to outsource – who you should partner up with, and who you should politely take a pass on. Even the big guys like Google don’t deliver 100% of the time, and smaller companies with API’s you can tie into most likely fail even more frequently.

While we must partner with other companies to continue to move fast, this reminds me that while we mitigate our risk by partnering, we can also unknowingly increase risk if the partner goes down. By no means am I saying Google is unreliable. In fact, this is the first time I can remember that they have been down, and their API is free. So this is my gut nudging my brain to remember to be thoughtful in all the partnering decisions we make.

When our customers come to our site today, they won’t know that "Google" (fill in name of your API provider here) is causing the failure. All they know is that our site sucked and didn’t load properly.

In a perfect world, I’d like to be 100% in control of all we serve, but that’s not reality. So, we’re at the mercy of a third party. And that makes me much less than perfectly comfortable…

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Category: Start-Ups