UPTIME AND SNAKE OIL
We all want to do our jobs perfectly. Our processes polished and sparkling, our apps and systems running smoothly all the time. In that, we depend on our partners and providers and look for those who can guarantee the quality and the uninterrupted supply of their products and services. Even more so for system hosting.
Some hosting providers think that 100% uptime guarantees are attractive when used in a marketing pitch, but even the best guarantee won’t stop your systems from going offline. This leaves one wondering – if a 100% uptime is even possible?
Too many variables
Economists often explain that all their calculations are closer to guesswork than universal laws. In a world with so many variables, emotional actors and decisionmakers, it is borderline impossible to guarantee 100% precise answers for anything. The same logic applies to hosting uptime.
When you factor in all the variables of server-side hosting, e.g. user-caused errors, DDOS attacks, server maintenance, hardware weariness, it is highly unlikely a reasonable provider would suggest a 100% result. But despite the number of factors, most hosting companies are at or above 99.9% uptime. What does that mean?
99% uptime means around nine hours of downtime per year. These numbers could send shivers down the spine of any corporate executive. 99.99% uptime narrows it down to fifty minutes per year, still a lot if your clients depend on uninterrupted service. Even the biggest companies - Amazon AWS, Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter aren’t available a hundred percent of time every year.
Considering the above, one can quickly understand why a responsible hosting provider wouldn't dare guarantee a 100% uptime. It is a reckless guarantee. It is not possible.
It’s hard, too bad
Despite all that, some providers insist that a 100% uptime is possible with enough time and money investments. What they forget is that anytime you add more components as a redundant measure to prevent downtime, then ironically enough, each additional component increases the likelihood that one of your system’s components will have trouble at any given time.
From snake oil sellers to modern politicians, we should’ve already learned that promises don’t mean much. Should it mean that business owners and the customer should lower their standards, accept the "it's hard, too bad" logic and become the martyrs of endless downtimes? Definitely no. Instead, understanding what hides behind catchy slogans and marketing tricks to discern between responsible and irresponsible providers.
At the end of the day, providers’ track record, the volume, and frequency of incidents, and more importantly – how they were handled, is what matters.