Despite Recent Outages, Google Claims 99.9 Percent Reliability For Gmail (And Other Apps Too)

Tens of millions of people rely on Gmail, and some even pay for the “premier” edition through Google Apps for Enterprises (which boasts one million businesses as customers). So when some enterprise customers had to suffer through a Gmail outage two weeks ago that lasted 30 hours, it made some headlines. As did the bigger Gmail outage last August that affected all users for about two hours.

In a belated blog post that responds to the criticism generated by the most recent outage, Matthew Glotzbach, the product management director of Google Enterprise, says that only “0.003% of Google Apps Premier Edition users” were affected. He also claims that Gmail is available 99.9 percent of the time, measured by “average uptime per user based on server-side error rates.” That amounts to 10 to 15 minutes of downtime per month, including the August outage.

As it so happens, the enterprise version of Gmail comes with a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. Today, Google is extending that guarantee for enterprise customers to Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Talk.

When an essential service goes down in the cloud, everybody notices, but Glotzbach contends that Google’s cloud services are more reliable than competing services run in a corporate data center. To prove his point, he trots out reliability data for enterprise email software from Microsoft, Novell, and IBM, and cm[ares it to Gmail. The results are in the nice chart reproduced above (blue is unplanned outages, red is planned outages):

Looking just at the unplanned outages that catch IT staffs by surprise, these results suggest Gmail is twice as reliable as a Novell GroupWise solution, and four times more reliable than a Microsoft Exchange-based solution that companies must maintain themselves.

There you have it. Gmail is four times as reliable as Microsoft Exchange. So stop yer complainin’.

Note that this data comes from the Radicati Group. I’m sure Microsoft could drum up some countervailing data showing different results.

Do you think apps in the cloud are more reliable than data-center apps? On average, maybe. Apps in the cloud, though, need to be held to a higher standard. 99.9 percent reliability is nice. But that is not even phone-company reliable. Get back to us when you get to 99.999 percent. Otherwise, we are just going to run this image every time Gmail fails: