Practically everyday you read about a service outage from one of the popular online services. The latest was last night, when Flickr was out of service for a few hours (see below). Yahoo Mail also had a recent outage that affected up to 750,000 users. Google has had recent outages for some of its services.
As the software-as-a-service companies become more critical to not just personal but also business continuity, they need to raise the level of transparency into their operations. With potentially millions of customers affected, every service should have a always on "trust" Web page that displays the operational status of servers. Salesforce.com has had some serious outages in the last year, but took the high road in exposing its operational data at trust.salesforce.com to provide more transparency and real-time information for its customers.
Trust.salesforce.com doesn't mean that salesforce.com is immune to outages, but the historical data can be confidence factor--can you trust the company to keep your applications running. It's no guarantee of uptime, but companies that provide this level of transparency will be viewed as more trustworthy, and with no place to hide have to focus on delivering as many nine's as possible.