Office 365, Google Apps and the next new thing

Came across an article by Tony Redmond over on Windows IT Pro, Google sets the pace in achieving 99.9%+ SLA performance for cloud based application suites. In it Tony not only praises Google for getting it done, but also hammers Microsoft because of their failure to.

Tony first describes what what Google now says about their SLA. Two important points were made in that statement:

Going forward, all downtime will be counted and applied towards the customer’s SLA. We are the first major cloud provider to eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement.

We’re also amending our SLA so that any intermittent downtime is counted. Previously, a period of less than ten minutes was not included. We believe any instance that causes our users to experience downtime should be avoided — period.

As Tony notes, Microsoft isn’t even close to being able to make that kind of commitment:

The two outages suffered by Office 365 in August and September 2011 resulted in a total of circa 330 minutes downtime (if you were one of the users affected by both outages) demonstrates the unwanted attention and stress that flow from extended outages that fail my “is it time for a coffee” test. For those not close to a calculator, 330 minutes is equivalent to roughly 47 months of outage at the 99.984% level.

An even starker analysis comes out in his personal blog:

The really bad thing about the Office 365 outages in August and September is that the accumulated 330 minutes of downtime means that Microsoft cannot meet its published Service Level Agreement (SLA) of 99.9%.

I think Tony’s analysis shouldn’t be ignored by anyone looking at moving to Office 365.

Now I know there are a lot of die-hard Microsoft shops out there who for reasons of corporate culture and sheer momentum will never leave Office and go to Google Apps, no matter what the cost in terms of either downtime or per seat licensing expense. For many of them just going to a cloud application delivery model is a giant leap that they’re only making because they have to. I am not talking to them. I am talking to those (if they exist) who can still have an open mind about these kinds of things (including the wisdom of putting all your eggs in the cloud basket — anyone’s cloud basket — in the first place).