Google Apps makes a new promise: No downtime

Google Apps makes a new promise: No downtime

Summary: Anyone buying into a Web-based service knows about the SLA - the service level agreement. That's where the Web company makes a promise about uptime, the amount of time that the service will be up and running without any service disruption.

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TOPICS: Apps, CXO, Google
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Anyone buying into a Web-based service knows about the SLA - the service level agreement. That's where the Web company makes a promise about uptime, the amount of time that the service will be up and running without any service disruption.

In most cases, there's a clause in the agreement that allows for scheduled downtime for maintenance. Now, Google - in an effort to further set itself apart from competitors - is removing that downtime clause from its customers SLA's.

From here on out, any downtime will be counted and applied toward the customer's SLA. In addition, the company is amending the SLA so that any intermittent downtime is counted, as well, eliminating the previous provision that any downtime less than 10 minutes was not counted. In a blog post, Google Enterprise Product Management Director Matthew Glotzbach wrote:

People expect email to be as reliable as their phone’s dial tone, and our goal is to deliver that kind of always-on availability with our applications... In 2010, Gmail was available 99.984 percent of the time, for both business and consumer users. 99.984 percent translates to seven minutes of downtime per month over the last year. That seven-minute average represents the accumulation of small delays of a few seconds, and most people experienced no issues at all.

And, for those wondering how the downtime compares to on-premise email - specifically for Exchange customers, Google says that seven minutes compares "very favorably." The company cites a 2010 report from the Radicati Group to conclude that that suggests that Gmail is 46 times more available than Exchange.

Google said the Radicati report only measures uptime for on-premises Exchange, Groupwise and Lotus deployments but does not measure performance of hosted email systems.

Google said that data about Microsoft's BPOS cloud offering was unavailable but that its own analysts of Microsoft's service notifications showed 113 incidents last year, with 74 planned outages and 33 days with planned downtime.

updated: I reached out to Microsoft for a response to Google's calculations Friday morning but didn't hear back until late Friday. The company neither confirmed nor disputed the numbers but instead sent a statement that wasn't attributed to anyone in particular at the company. That statement read:

Microsoft Online Services offer the industry’s most rigorous financially-backed SLAs.  We guarantee 99.9% uptime, or we give customers money back.  We’ve always counted any service issue as downtime, from the minute it starts to resolution. We also count issues for any number of impacted users, not just if “enough” users are impacted. What’s more, Microsoft offers 24/7 customer support regardless of the level of impact. We know our customers expect guarantees they can trust, and that’s what we deliver. Microsoft Online Services have averaged 99.9% or better uptime for the past year.

Topics: Apps, CXO, Google

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26 comments
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  • 33 DAYS of planned downtime?

    @Sam - any chance you can investigate and report back on the statement about BPOS downtime? Service notifications indicating 33 days of planned downtime?? That, on the face of it, would indicate < 88% availability ... that's simply unreal - I can't even imagine proposing an SLA permitting that amt of planned downtime. Something has to be wrong with the Radicati Group's reasearch on that (maybe it doesn't recognize a beta period where no service guarantees were in place or something?)
    daboochmeister
    • RE: Google Apps makes a new promise: No downtime

      @daboochmeister I'm already looking into it and have some inquiries out there. I'm trying to get some more detail and will update the post as soon as I get it.
      sldiaz
    • It is 33 days with some planned down time, typically, each day with planned

      downtime, would be very little.
      DonnieBoy
    • RE: Google Apps makes a new promise: No downtime

      @daboochmeister It says 33 days *with* planned downtime, so it doesn't mean all day downtime... Could be few minutes, but it was necessary.
      apremysl
      • Oh oh oh ... I thought it meant 33 days DURATION

        @apremysl - Ah, I thought it meant 33 x 24 hours of downtime that year, which is why I would have been shocked to hear that was true. But you guys are right, 33 days during which downtime occurred wouldn't be as shocking. (Hmm ... that's almost weekly, given they went online in, what, April? Is that above avg? Seems like it must be, weekly outages for a cloud provider ... <shrug>).<br><br>Their SLA says 99.9% uptime (<a href="http://www.microsoft.com/online/faq.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.microsoft.com/online/faq.aspx</a>) ... that's ~8.8 hours/year down permitted. Not sure that's much to brag about, but the graph above looks like ~310 minutes, so if the Radicati group is correct, and that's an average annual outage for an on-premise Exchange, then the hosted BPOS might have made it.<br><br>And they may not actually be <i>down</i> during all their "planned outages" - i know for some customers who prefer it, we document and advertise a planned outage even if it nominally should be no impact (e.g., do a server-at-a-time behind load balancers). So the reality may be much better than the info above makes it sound. <shrug><br><br>Be interesting to watch.
        daboochmeister
    • 33 days WITH planned downtime.

      @daboochmeister
      It says "33 days with planned downtime", not "33 days of planned downtime".
      That means that on 33 days there were periods of downtime, but that is not to say that the downtime amounted to 33 days in total over the year!
      Watch those prepositions, and things will seem less preposterous.
      d.s.williams
  • Now, that's a promise!

    Top that Microsoft.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • Why? Google can't deliver. so it's a non issue. Besides, as you know

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      Google Apps is the inferior of the two.

      It's like Google saying "Our automobiles will never need maintainence" then they hand you a scooter.
      John Zern
      • Google IS delivering. They are so much better than on premises Exchange,

        that there is no comparison.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: Google Apps makes a new promise: No downtime

        @John Zern
        You make a claim ?Google can't deliver? without any supporting documentation, link, or case study.
        daikon
      • You must be joking...

        @Donnieboy
        Put the Google Koolaid down.
        DRM? Unified Messaging? Archiving? ...
        dazzlingd
      • basing it on past products, daikon

        rallying the troops, promises of this and that. then the products disapear 6-8 months later.

        Would you really trust Google after all that?
        John Zern
      • Sure DB.

        And both you and Google (well you much more so then Google) went on and on about how much better Gears, Buzz, Wave, ect was from the competition, the MS killer apps and such and where are they now?

        Well, MS and other Google competitors are still selling their products...
        John Zern
      • Try enabling sort before talking about Exchange

        @John Zern
        LBiege
      • How is GMail available 46x as much &quot;inferior&quot;?

        @John Zern - do you contest the correctness of the Radicati report that is the source of the graph in the article? Or do you assert that GMail is inferior, no matter how much better their availability?

        Or are you just trolling?
        daboochmeister
      • daboochmeister, I will side with Mr. Zern

        statement that I find it hard that Google will deliver. Plus I did not see where he was contesting uptime, instead that he was questioning the word of Google in response to "zero downtime".
        Tim Cook
  • That's a hell of a promise

    I expect to be broken numerous times.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • They are only promising to COUNT even scheduled downtime against the SLA.

      There will still be downtime, as with any email service. But, notice how much better the reliability is compared to on-premises Exchange.
      DonnieBoy
      • Who was sampled?

        @DonnieBoy

        A single server, on premise Exchange setup is going to have more downtime than a clustered Exchange setup, which would likely have nearly no downtime. Exchange Enterprise, when properly configured, can achieve 99.999% uptime, which is better than what Google is offering.

        If you look at all Exchange installs, including SBS installs, then you're probably going to see a lot more downtime. I'm more interested in how it compares to BPOS. I've only known of two instances my clients couldn't get to the service in the last year and only one of those was unplanned.
        LiquidLearner
      • RE: Google Apps makes a new promise: No downtime

        @LiquidLearner

        [i]"A single server, on premise Exchange setup is going to have more downtime than a clustered Exchange setup, which would likely have nearly no downtime. Exchange Enterprise, when properly configured, can achieve 99.999% uptime, which is better than what Google is offering."[/i]

        That's about right. The only time we have exchange downtime in my organization is when there is a major power outage beyond what the battery backups can withstand and most times we do not kick in the generator unless it is absolutely necessary. Other than that Exchange is clustered and if we need to do maintainance on one we just flip it to the other server.

        Of course I work in Education so we do not have the budget of Google so we cannot set up huge server farms like they can. In 2 years of using Live@Edu I can honestly say it has always been available when My Students, Teachers, or I need to use it. I get the maintenance alerts if they plan on down time or a feature being unavailable for a global upgrade or maintenance but never once has it failed me or my organization or the many other school districts in my area that I know are using it. And I am sure Google can provide similar reliability.
        bobiroc