Gmail failed again. At around 9:30 am GMT this morning, to be precise. But Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) failure may ultimately prove to be a win for cloud computing.

Let's cover the problems first. Twitter, unsurprisingly, was abuzz with news of the outage from the outset. Dozens of reports were marked with the moniker "#Gfail," a snarky hashtag for organizing conversation about the outage.

Google, for its part, said in blog post that Gmail was down for roughly two-and-a-half hours, and that its engineers were still diagnosing the cause. "We know that for many of you this disrupted your working day. We're really sorry about this, and we did do everything to restore access as soon as we could," wrote Acacio Cruz, Gmail's Site Reliability Manager.

Yet for all the boilerplate, this was no ordinary outage. VentureBeat reports that while Web access to email was shut down, IMAP accounts -- the sort that you might use on an iPhone -- were operating normally. Gmail didn't collapse completely. Therein lies the victory for cloud computing.

Fear of downtime has been the issue preventing cloud services from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), IBM (NYSE:IBM), EMC (NYSE:EMC), and, yes, Google, from seeing wider adoption. Earlier in its life, outages nearly crippled (NYSE:CRM).

Gmail didn't fail like that. Thanks to its IMAP servers and offline features, some users simply pressed on, oblivious. Call it a little sunshine on what could have been a very overcast day for cloud computing.

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