Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Google offers up new SLA's for paying customers

Two noteworthy items from the news of Google announcing new SLA's for paying customers:
  1. Google measures uptime as "average uptime per user based on server-side error rates".
  2. They claim 99.9% uptime for the last year, in spite of the outage in August.
Does anyone else see a problem here? It blows my mind that not only do we have to rely on Google to tell us what their uptime was, but we allow them to tell us what uptime means. To me, downtime could include Google's services being completely down and not in a position to return return any kind of server-side error. To Google, that doesn't count. And even if it did, do we have to rely on twitter and public outrage to keep Google honest when downtime does occur?

Two simple things we need to fight for in order to keep SLA's and their associated advantages worth something:
  1. Define uptime based on any issue under the control of the provider that keeps you from using the service as any time (planned or unplanned).
  2. Demand third party validation of the SLA results.
This same request applies to AWS, Salesforce, and any other SaaS service with SLA's (which should be everyone!).

To end on a more positive note, the closing notes from Google's announcement:
"More than 1 million businesses have selected Google Apps to run their business, and tens of millions of people use Gmail every day. With this type of adoption, a disruption of any size — even a minor one affecting fewer than 0.003% of Google Apps Premier Edition users, like the one a few weeks ago — attracts a disproportional amount of attention. We've made a series of commitments to improve our communications with customers during any outages, and we have an unwavering commitment to make all issues visible and transparent through our open user groups.

Google is one of the 1 million businesses that run on Google Apps, and any service interruption affects our users and our business; our engineers are also some of our most demanding customers. We understand the importance of delivering on the cloud's promise of greater security, reliability and capability at lower cost. We are hugely thankful to our customers who drive us to become better every day."

P.S. I've added a comment to my previous "Online Users Bill of Rights" post to take this issue into account.

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