If you logged into Gmail over the last hour (or visited the Gmail homepage), you probably noticed that something looked a bit off: all the vowels are missing. We realize this makes things difficult for all of you who rely on Gmail — whether at home or at work — and we’re incredibly sorry. We take morphological issues like this extremely seriously, so we want to let you all know what happened and what we’re doing about it.
At 6:01 am Pacific Time, during routine maintenance at one of our datacenters, the frontend web servers in that particular datacenter started failing to render the letter ‘a’ for a subset of users. As error rates escalated, the strain spread to other datacenters. We worked quickly to avoid a cascading failure of the entire alphabet by implementing a stopgap solution that limited the damage to the letters ‘a,’ ‘e,’ ‘i,’ ‘o,’ and ‘u.’ As a result, we’re experiencing Gmail’s first temporary vowel outage. (We’re still investigating whether the letter ‘y’ is impacted and will post an update here shortly.)