Website Downtime: How the Cloud Compares

Website downtime is an unfortunate eventuality that most businesses have to deal with at one time or another. However, there seems to be some misconception in the way that people view the cloud in regard to downtime and efficiency. Part of the reason for this is that periods of downtime in the cloud are public knowledge – developing an idea that cloud computing is regularly unreliable.

However, the truth is that cloud computing is equal to, if not better than on premise systems when it comes to dealing with sudden downtime. What’s more, the system also offers a host of other benefits too, from cost-effective management, to reliability and popularity.

Downtime within the Cloud

Anyone who has experience with cloud-based software knows the “Service Level Agreement”. In the SLA, the provider underlines a “guaranteed” percentage of up-time – the amount of time the system should run without interruption. Although it may be ideal to dream of a world where up-time is at 100%, the very nature of technology means that hurdles and problems with service delivery are inevitable.

When creating an SLA, most cloud vendors take unplanned outages and scheduled maintenance into account, and can still quote an up-time of around 99.9%. However, the media frequently draws attention to that other .1%. While, in the meantime, on premise systems work without any attention focused on the amount of time they stay in service, or the degree of downtime that customer’s experience.

Comparing Downtime

As with their cloud counterparts, systems for on premise data hosting make plenty of promises regarding up-time, but when the outages occur – nobody really hears about it. In other words, the perception of the on premise model is often skewed. Similarly, the lack of coverage regarding on premise systems means that it’s difficult to compare data efficiently between the cloud, and other storage options.

One study conducted by the Radicati Group in 2008 found that most popular email systems suffered an average of 30-60 minutes of downtime each month, as well as a further 36-90 minutes of scheduled downtime. This differs dramatically to the cloud-based Gmail’s total downtime of up to 15 minutes.

The Truth about Downtime

Regardless of where they are hosted, servers are capable of failing on occasion. However, what little research has been done into the comparison between cloud services and other alternatives suggests that cloud companies may be more efficient at getting back online after an outage, than companies who host their own servers.