We have a project running in production on Google Cloud (GCP) that is used to monitor hundreds of wind turbines and scores of solar plants scattered across 8 countries. We have control centers with wall-to-wall screens with dashboards full of metrics that are monitored 24/7. Asset Managers use this system to monitor the health of individual wind turbines and solar strings in real time and take immediate corrective maintenance. Development and Forecasting teams use the system to run algorithms on data in BigQuery. All these actions translate directly to revenue. We deal in a ‘wind/solar energy’ — a perishable commodity. If we over produce, we cannot store and sell later. If we under produce, there are penalties to be paid. For this reason assets need to be monitored 24/7 to keep up/down with the needs of the power grid and the power purchase agreements made.
Early today morning (28 June 2018) i receive an alert from Uptime Robot telling me my entire site is down. I receive a barrage of emails from Google saying there is some ‘potential suspicious activity’ and all my systems have been turned off. EVERYTHING IS OFF. THE MACHINE HAS PULLED THE PLUG WITH NO WARNING.
Customer service chat is off. There’s no phone to call. I have an email asking me to fill in a form and upload a picture of the credit card and a government issued photo id of the card holder. Great, let’s wake up the CFO who happens to be the card holder.
We will delete project within 3 business days.
“We will delete your project unless the billing owner corrects the violation by filling out the Account Verification Form within three business days. This form verifies your identity and ownership of the payment instrument. Failure to provide the requested documents may result in permanent account closure.”
What if the card holder is on leave and is unreachable for three days? We would have lost everything — years of work — millions of dollars in lost revenue.
I fill in the form with the details and thankfully within 20 minutes all the services started coming alive. The first time this happened, we were down for a few hours. In all we lost everything for about an hour. An automated email arrives apologizing for ‘inconvenience’ caused. Unfortunately The Machine has no understanding of the ‘quantum of inconvenience’ caused.
This is the first project we built entirely on the Google Cloud. All our previous works were built on AWS. In our experience AWS handles billing issues in a much more humane way. They warn you about suspicious activity and give you time to explain and sort things out. They don’t kick you down the stairs.
I hope GCP team is listening and changes things for better. Until then i’m never building any project on GCP.