No more scheduled downtime for Google Apps

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Google has adjusted the service level agreement (SLA) of its application offering to remove any scheduled downtime.

Google Apps, which includes Gmail, IM and Calendar, previously had a clause enabling Google to take the service down for scheduled maintenance.

The company has now removed this clause and, although it admits unscheduled downtime will always be a possibility, it hopes to achieve ambitious uptime of 99.99 per cent.

In a blog post late last week, Matthew Glotzbach, Google's enterprise product management director, said: "Unlike most providers, we don't plan for our users to be down, even when we're upgrading our services or maintaining our systems. For that reason, we're removing the SLA clause that allows for scheduled downtime."

"Going forward, all downtime will be counted and applied towards the customer's SLA. We are the first major cloud provider to eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement."

He also confirmed any unscheduled downtime would be counted.

"Previously, a period of less than ten minutes was not included," Glotzbatch added. "We believe any instance that causes our users to experience downtime should be avoided period."

One of the reasons companies have cited for being nervous about the move to a public cloud model was unsuspected downtime, leaving them unable to access mission critical applications.

However, Glotzbath claimed the average of seven minutes downtime each month for Gmail in 2010 was better than many on-premise alternatives.

He quoted research from the Radicati Group, which claimed average downtime for on-premise email was 3.8 hours per month, making Gmail 32 times more reliable than the average email system.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.