Oct 30, 2008 (02:10 PM EDT)
Google Defends Gmail Uptime, Bolsters Google Apps

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

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Google's Planned Downtime Compared

Google's Planned Downtime Compared
(click for larger image)

In the wake of Gmail outages earlier this month and in August, Google on Thursday moved to disperse the cloud hanging over cloud computing.

"The reliability of cloud computing has been a hot topic recently, partly because glitches in the cloud don't happen behind closed doors as with traditional on-premises solutions for businesses," said Google enterprise product management director Matthew Glotzbach in a blog post. "Instead, when a small number of cloud computing users have problems, it makes headlines."

To counter skeptical headlines, Glotzbach offered reliability metrics, in the hope that numbers speak louder than naysayers. And he said that Google has turned its Gmail Service Level Agreement (SLA) -- available to Google Apps Premiere Edition customers -- into a Google Apps SLA. The agreement now covers Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, and Google Sites.

Over the last year, Gmail has been up more than 99.9% of the time, he said.

Gmail, Glotzbach said, has been down "an aggregate 10-15 minutes of downtime per month over the last year of providing the service. That 10-15 minutes per month average represents small delays of a couple of seconds here and there. A very small number of people have unfortunately been subject to some disruption of service that affected them for a few minutes or a few hours."

To that very small number of people, service credits have been extended, as per the terms of Google's SLA.

Coincidentally, on Thursday, Microsoft tried to move the goalposts for SLAs. In a presentation at the Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference on Thursday, Gianpaolo Carraro, the company's director of SAAS architecture, said that uptime promises aren't enough. He suggested that companies should have tools to monitor and verify cloud network services. And he proposed a variety of other possible contractual obligations that might make cloud computing SLAs more palatable for organizations.

But since such SLAs have yet to appear, uptime remains an obvious way to measure the success of an online service.