Customers paying Google for Gmail are guaranteed the e-mail service will be available 99.9 percent of the time or they get a refund. Now the company has extended the promise to Google Calendar, Google Docs, and all the other elements of its Google Apps service.
"Today, we're announcing that we will extend the 99.9 percent service level agreement we offer Premier Edition customers on Gmail to Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Talk," said Matthew Glotzbach, director of Google Enterprise product management, announced on the promised Google Apps reliability on its blog Wednesday.
Service level agreements are an important measure of trust for attracting business users; for these customers, service disruptions mean revenue disruptions. Specific promises can help allay concerns about the risks of moving from in-house computing systems to cloud computing, where somebody such as Google runs software as a service.
Customers also want to know what's going on when there is an outage, though, and Google pledged to improve in this regard. "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," Glotzbach said. It should be noted that Google is in the process of moving its Google Apps discussion group site, though.
Google suffered several Google Apps outages, including one two weeks ago. But Glotzbach took pains to persuade people downtime is relative.
According to Radicati Group research, companies using Novell Groupwise, IBM Lotus, and Microsoft Exchange for their e-mail have somewhere between 66 and 150 minutes of downtime per month. According to Google's own measurements, which are recorded down to the last millisecond, Gmail has been available 99.9 percent of the time for its entire user base, which means downtime of about 10 to 15 minutes per month.
"That 10 to 15 minutes per month average represents small delays of a couple of seconds here and there. A very small number of people have unfortunately been subject to some disruption of service that affected them for a few minutes or a few hours. For those users, we are very sorry," Glotzbach said.