Google eliminates planned and scheduled downtime for apps

In what could be viewed as a shot across the bow of Microsoft, Google on Friday announced that it had modified its Google Apps service agreements to promise users 99.9 percent uptime. In addition, it removed wording that accounted for planned or scheduled downtime as part of the service reliability promise.

"Unlike most providers, we don't plan for our users to be down, even when we're upgrading our services or maintaining our systems," Enterprise Product Management Director Matthew Glotzbach said. He said Google would be the first company to eliminate maintenance window clauses from its service contracts.

As competition heats up in the enterprise services space, companies are scrambling to make their offerings more attractive. With large corporations obviously dependent on uptime, highlighting this strength may make good business sense for the Mountain View, Calif. company.

This essentially means that Google trusts its network infrastructure so that it would have enough redundancy to prevent a network shutdown if maintenance needs to be completed. If the network would go down, that time would now be counted as part of the uptime guarantee.

Google will give customers three days of service credit if the uptime is between 99 and 99.9 percent, seven days if between 95 and 99 percent, and 15 days for uptime below 95 percent. A customer must request the credit from Google in order to receive it once it becomes eligible to do so.

Although specific uptime guarantees were not given for each of Google's services within the Apps umbrella, it did highlight that its Gmail service reached an average 99.984 percent uptime during 2010. That would mean that the e-mail service was up for all but seven minutes of last year, with many of those downtimes measured in a matter of seconds.

Glotzbach noted that the uptimes were equivalent to that of the dial tone. "Every time you reach for your phone you expect it to work. And we believe that is a worthwhile benchmark," he said.

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