Google has updated the contracts for its Google Apps suite so that they no longer make allowances for scheduled maintenance, and that any downtime - no matter how small - will be counted and applied to the customer's agreement.
Mountain View announced the change to its Google Apps service level aggreements (SLAs) with a Friday-morning blog post, claiming that the elimination of scheduled downtime is an "industry first".
Scheduled downtime on Google Apps, you see, isn't downtime for the customer - at least in theory. Google Apps runs across a highly distributed infrastructure, so that the company can take servers in one data center down for maintenance while servers in another data center pick up the slack.
Previously, the SLAs not only made allowances for scheduled downtime, they never counted downtime of less than ten minutes towards the customer's contract. "We believe any instance that causes our users to experience downtime should be avoided - period," is Google's stance as of today.
In 2010, the company says, Gmail was available to business users and consumers 99.984 per cent of the time - about seven minutes of downtime per month - and there was no scheduled downtime for end users. "We’re particularly pleased with this level of reliability since it was accomplished without any planned downtime while launching 30 new features and adding 10s of millions of active users," the post reads.
According to a study cited by Google, this makes Gmail 46 times more reliable than its bête noire, Microsoft Exchange. Google also claimed an edge over Microsoft's fledgling online service, BPOS, pointing out that Redmond's service notifications show 74 unplanned outages and 33 days that include planned downtime.
Google is doggedly working to replace Microsoft across the enterprise and inside federal agencies. Late last year, it even sued the US Department of the Interior after that agency refused to consider anything other than a Microsoft Office proposal for its new email settup. That suit has successfully halted the DoI's proposed Microsoft contract. ®