Yes, Google has removed the scheduled downtime
clause from their Google Apps for Business SLAs. That’s how confident they are about their Cloud services availability. They’re treating all downtime as unscheduled, for which their customers should be compensated for.
Confidence stemming from the impressive 99.984% availability in 2010, which translates in only 7 minutes of downtime per month -including intermittent connectivity for small periods of time, which in most cases may not even be noticed by end users!
This signals a few things. First, this is the first time a major vendor does not include regular maintenance in their SLAs, choosing instead to compensate their business customers for any kind of downtime, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant this may have looked in the (not so distant) past.
Second, it gets Google that much closer to achieving unprecedented availability performance, close to dial tone phone system as they semi-jokingly put it.
And third, it further bolsters the availability argument in favour of Cloud services, and alleviates many such fears by enterprise grade customers. In fact, Google Mail fared much better than many on-premises email solutions, and was a good 46 times more available than Microsoft Exchange!
Similar success stories will certainly help improve the Cloud’s (as if it’s an entity on its own) reputation when it comes to reliability. Now. What’s left? Security, compliance, performance………