Google got bolder with its Google Apps service-level agreement Jan. 14, removing the clause that allows for scheduled downtime for its Web-based collaboration software and promising to give customers credit for any downtime.
Moreover, the SLA has been improved so that any intermittent downtime of these e-mail and document applications is counted, according to Google Enterprise Product Management Director Matthew Glotzbach, who added:
"Previously, a period of less than 10 minutes was not included. We believe any instance that causes our users to experience downtime should be avoided--period."
No doubt, existing Google Apps Business Edition customers, those paying $50 per user, per year to float their collaboration operations on Google's servers, would agree.
But let's face it, this agreement is aimed at luring new customers who may be mulling whether or not to go with Microsoft's Office 365 cloud-collaboration software.
Google and Microsoft are in an exciting dogfight in collaboration software hosted in their respective data centers. The companies have been waging a high-profile battle
To that end, here's the latest salvo, courtesy of some new information on Google's availability for Gmail.
In 2010, Gmail delivered uptime of 99.984 percent for business and consumer users. That translates to seven minutes of downtime per month over the last year, or small delays of a few seconds.
This marks a solid improvement after the uptime issues Gmail had in 2008 and 2009. 2008 was particularly bad, with prolonged outages to the Webmail service in August and October.
This was embarrassing to Google, to say the least. But Google Apps, which now has 3 million-plus business customers after almost 4 years of service, skated through 2010 with little downtime, or at least downtime that was brief enough to ward off long outages.
Google is so confident in its reliability that it feels up to bashing on-premise e-mail applications from Microsoft, IBM and Novell.
Glotzbach cited new Radicati Group research that shows Gmail is 32 times more reliable than the average e-mail system, and 46 times more available than Microsoft Exchange.
Here's Radicati's chart:
No doubt, Microsoft will have its own numbers with which to counter Google's body blow. Stay tuned.
This battle should heat up in 2011, as Google seeks to defend its cloud cachet, versus Microsoft's enterprise might.