Google: 100 percent uptime 'not attainable'

Google: 100 percent uptime 'not attainable'

Summary: Removal of downtime clause for scheduled maintenance and revised downtime count part of company's efforts to give customers greater assurance, not a promise to deliver absolute uptime, says spokesperson.


Google's recent tweaks to its service level agreement (SLA) is not a promise to deliver 100 percent uptime but rather, an initiative to provide greater assurance for its customers, clarifies a company spokesperson.

In a blog post dated Jan. 17, Matthew Glotzbach, enterprise product management director for Google, announced that the Internet giant is improving its SLA for Google Apps by removing a previous clause that allows for scheduled downtime.

When contacted, a company spokesperson clarified that this means customers can expect no downtime of Google Apps services when Google is performing upgrading or maintenance work on its systems, but it is not claiming it can provide absolute service uptime.

"[Google doesn't] believe that 100 percent uptime is attainable with commercial services. For comparison, even the landline telephone doesn't reach 100 percent uptime", she told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail.

She noted that there will be occasions of unforeseen and unexpected downtime, pointing to exclusions listed in the Google Apps SLA. For example, a service may experience downtime from factors constituting "Force Majeure", such as natural disasters and acts of war or terrorism.

Previously, the Google Apps SLA would not recognize intermittent downtime of less than 10 minutes. This has now been removed. "Now any intermittent downtime is counted", said Glotzbach in the blog entry.

The revisions in the SLA mean higher assurance of lesser downtime because Google now counts downtime of any reason, planned or unplanned, into its SLA, the spokesperson said.

She added that what remains unchanged in the SLA is that Google's services will achieve at least 99.9 percent uptime in any calendar month. If its services drop below 99.9 percent for the month, customers will receive service credits in return. Service credits are days of service added to the end of the customer's contract.

Glotzbach wrote that Google will, hence, "eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement (SLA)", and is the first major cloud provider to do so.

Asked to respond to Google's SLA changes, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail: "Microsoft Online Services offer the most rigorous financially-backed SLAs. We guarantee 99.9 percent uptime, or we give customers money back."

When contacted, cloud service providers Amazon Web Services and declined comment.

Topics: CXO, Apps, Browser, Cloud, Collaboration, Networking, Software

Jamie Yap

About Jamie Yap

Jamie writes about technology, business and the most obvious intersection of the two that is software. Other variegated topics include--in one form or other--cloud, Web 2.0, apps, data, analytics, mobile, services, and the three Es: enterprises, executives and entrepreneurs. In a previous life, she was a writer covering a different but equally serious business called show business.

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  • Average of 365.25 days per year
    Average of 8766 hours per year
    Average of 730 hours 30 minutes per month

    This equates to only 43 minutes and 50 seconds (rounded up) downtime per month.

    If it were scheduled that could effectively be "100% uptime between 9AM and 5PM" which is what most businesses are after anyway.

    The technology available today can handle 'unforeseen events', it just requires a little bit of training and some time.
  • Ideally this would be 99.99% uptime between 9AM and 5PM, 99% uptime between 7AM and 9PM, and have only 80% 'uptime' in the other parts of a 25 hour window.

    The reason: To keep the machines well maintained, patched & secure, etc

    There's nothing wrong with 20% downtime if no-one is using the system when it happens.
  • "eliminate maintenance windows from their serve level agreement (SLA)" should probably be "eliminate maintenance windows from their *service* level agreement (SLA)"

    "in the other parts of a 25 hour window." should be "in the other parts of a *24* hour window."