- Google Cloud says it is reviewing its abuse-prevention process after a customer complaint posted on Medium last week went viral.
- The author of that Medium post, an admin of an energy-monitoring operation, was spooked when Google threatened in an email to shut down all operations if proper documents weren’t provided in three days.
- Google is owning up to the error, saying it will make changes so that the problem will never happen again.
Google Cloud says it has begun reviewing its abuse-prevention process after a customer complaint posted on Medium last week generated a lot of criticism of the service.
The post was written by an anonymous administrator overseeing a system that monitors “hundreds of wind turbines and scores of solar plants.” The admin said Google blocked the system’s website, app and other services on June 28 without warning because it had detected “potential suspicious activity.”
Google then threatened to shut down the system for good unless the admin could provide ID and other documents. Things never got to that point, though, as Google responded to the admin’s request for help and settled the situation quickly.
Now Google is doing damage control to ensure that situation doesn’t happen again and to spread the word to existing and prospective customers of its cloud business.
Brian Bender, an engineering support lead at Google Cloud, wrote on Medium that the situation had prompted a review of its “abuse prevention processes.”
“To ensure this does not happen again,” Bender said, Google Cloud will “re-evaluate the data sources” used “to assess potential fraudulent activity,” implement “additional mechanisms for suspect accounts,” and “improve the effectiveness of how we communicate account warnings.”
“We sincerely apologise for this issue and are working quickly to make things better, not just for this customer but for all GCP customers,” Bender wrote.
The fight is not just about technology
The snafu was exactly the kind of news that Google Cloud doesn’t need as it competes with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure for enterprise customers, and it highlights a potential weak spot in Google’s plan to diversify from its longstanding advertising business.
Diane Greene, the CEO of Google Cloud, has said often that Google has superior technology and brainpower than rivals. But the battle may not be won on tech brawn alone.
When it comes to customer service – a critical feature for businesses staking their livelihoods on a cloud service – Google appears a lot more vulnerable. In the many discussions about this incident on Reddit and other online message boards, a big complaint that has surfaced is an inability of Google Cloud customers to contact human customer-service reps in emergencies. Bender didn’t address that issue in his Medium post.
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