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100% Uptime SLA? Wow That's Incredible

Mon, 21st October 2013, 17:19

An error message trumpeting that the website for Fluffy the Persian Feline’s Latest Trick is temporarily unavailable can be frustrating for the blog owner. A similar message for an e-Commerce or business website could be perceived as a reflection of the business entity, or worse, a driver of traffic to a competitor's website. Regardless of your perspective, everyone understands server uptime is important.

Lumous is the latest to join a growing list of webhosting providers offering 100% Uptime Guarantees. Effective immediately, both new and existing Lumous clients will be covered under their new 100% uptime SLA.

If your virtual machine, email account, or web hosting account becomes unavailable due to a failure in our platform or network for any amount of time, you will receive account credits for that period. 

Yet even among webhosts, offers of 100% uptime guarantees quickly draw ire and skepticism. From one forum populated by webhosting company owners (editor’s note: not the forum with the partisan webhosts spouting the only unbiased web hosting reviews on the web jargon): 

  • 100% Uptime Guarantee is a marketing tactic in the same realms as offering an "Unlimited" amount of disk space. And, when you look at it, the amount of legal 'waffle' surrounding it shows exactly how convoluted it is as an offer.
  • then again, people - as have I - used "Unlimited" disk space hosting, so if you can get away with it in your legal disclaimers; I don't see why it should be all-that frowned upon as a marketing idea
  • It's frowned upon because it's lying. Imagine if somebody sold you a product that was advertised to do something but in the fine print you find out it doesn't actually do it. I won't get into an argument with you here, but your AUP is a perfect example of why "unlimited" providers are looked down upon.  

 

ASA hears complaint against Rackspace 

A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by an unnamed party regarding a sponsored search advert which described Rackspace as “The World Leader in Cloud Computing & Hosting" and promised a "100% Uptime Guarantee”. The complainant claimed the advert was misleading as it was not possible to guarantee 100% uptime for a webhosting service.

Pointing to to its service level agreement (SLA), Rackspace stated that if it failed to ensure 100% uptime, clients would be entitled to compensation proportionate to the downtime they had experienced.

The ASA considered that consumers would understand that the claim ‘100% Uptime Guarantee’ meant they would be compensated if the Rackspace Cloud network was unavailable...and concluded the claim ... was not misleading.

In its adjudication, the ASA said: “We investigated the ad under the Committees of Advertising Practice Code ... but did not find a breach.”

 

Servers will go down

Planning and quality equipment can minimize server downtime, but even then, some amount of downtime is an inevitable reality. A webhost promising 99.8% uptime is allowing themselves 16 hours a year of downtime. Each point 1% of downtime equals over 8 hours a year.

Almost all reputable webhosting companies offer a service level agreement (SLA) with their hosting packages. Not unlike ‘unlimited webhosting plans’ the devil is in the details of the ToS, AuP, and now the SLA fine print. These set out (or exclude) various conditions and/or stipulations that may need to be met to qualify for a credit.  Similar to that unlimited analogy,  some webhosts are quite clear and concise, while others waffle around in the terminology: 

  • Network Uptime (editor’s note: Most datacenters have network connections with numerous providers. Aside from a broken router or switch (quickly hot-swapped) or a bad network cable or card, the network connection is always going to be up…)
  • Must be externally verifiable
  • Must submit request for credit
  • Time calculated from submission of trouble ticket
  • Not responsible for third party actions (the car accident down the street taking out the power pole or maybe the fiber getting severed passing a nearby construction site)
  • Excludes reloading operating systems, applications, and rebuilding RAID arrays, software or programs on server etc etc etc. 

 

100 percent uptime… Guaranteed

HostJury has randomly picked (see below) a number of webhost offering 100% uptime SLA for our comparison. HostJury has endeavored to paste abbreviated snippets from each company that fairly reflects their offering, and the terms of the SLA. The webhosts order was deterined by their search rank. 

HostJury encourages anyone researching a possible webhost to read the complete SLA of the webhost (and their webhosting reviews). Plans do change, and we make no guarantee that the information or our little chart below will remain accurate. As is the HostJury custom, we makes no recommendation or endorsement of any web hosting providers...

Editor’s note for those inclined to question the ethical review for soundness and bias: Randomly = web search using the keywords ‘100% uptime guarantee’. HJ used the webhost listed on the first page of search results. Site5 also showed up in results but I have no clue why as they do not offer a 100% uptime guarantee… So while HJ excluded Site5 from our little 'study, we did consider contacting Ben to find out who he is using for SEO. HJ included Lumous as their offer precipitated this post. 

 

The Lumous 100% Uptime Guarantee

If your site, virtual machine, or email is down as a result of a platform or network failure, we will credit you a percentage of your bill based on how long you're down.

HostJury sought clarification from Lumous whether the SLA credit was automatic or required a request. Within a few minutes we received a response:

We would do that automatically. We feel the burden of notification and fulfillment of SLA violations and payouts should be on the provider, not the customer. Sincerely, Kris

 

Rackspace 100% Network Uptime Guarantee

Your business depends on reliable uptime. That's why we've designed and built our network for solid reliability—and backed it with our 100% Network Uptime Guarantee.

Rackspace Guarantees: 

  • Network will be available 100% of the time in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance or a credit of 5% of the monthly fee for each 30 minutes of downtime, up to 100% of the monthly fee for the affected server.
  • Critical infrastructure systems, including power and HVAC, will be available 100% of the time in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance else A credit of 5% of the monthly fee for each 30 minutes of downtime, up to 100% of the monthly fee for the affected server.
  • Functioning of all hardware components and replacement of any failed component at no cost to the customer. A credit of 5% of the monthly fee per additional hour of downtime, up to 100% of the monthly fee for the affected server. 

HostJury also sought clarification from Rackspace whether the SLA credit was automatic or required a request…. and Joshua never let us down:

As far as credit for downtime, this would need to be requested by the customer. 

 

Codero Hosting

Codero created our aggressive 100% uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA) for all of our dedicated servers.

Codero SLA: 

  • Your hardware will be functioning 100% of the time in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance
  • Power and HVAC systems will be functioning 100% of the time in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance
  • Network uptime will be 100% in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance 

If network failure causes your server to be down for more than a half hour you will receive a refund on your next bill*. If you experience downtime for one of the reasons listed above you will receive a 5% credit for each half hour of downtime you experience applied to your next month's bill (up to 100% of the total monthly bill).

HostJury also sought clarification from Codero whether the SLA credit was applied automatically, or required a request…. and we’re still waiting!

 

DreamHost

DreamHost has a solid commitment to providing you with the very best web hosting service we can – that’s why we can offer you a straightforward and rock-solid 100% Uptime Guarantee!

If your web site, databases, email, FTP, SSH or webmail is unusable as a result of a failure in our systems and for reasons other than previously announced scheduled maintenance, coding or configuration errors on your part, we’ll credit your next invoice with 1 day hosting free for each 1 hour (or fraction thereof) of service interruption; up to 10% of your next pre-paid hosting renewal fee.

We begin assessing credit from the time you open a support ticket to report the problem. That’s all there is to it – no arguments, no hassle, no pages of fine print.

 

iWeb

iWeb guarantees 100% network uptime and electrical power supply of its datacenter for all subscribers. If an outage should happen, iWeb will compensate its clients with a credit equivalent to one day of service for the first 15 minutes of unavailability and a credit of one day of service for each of the following hours. The credit can be claimed up to the monthly amount paid for the service.

Unavailability is defined by failed PING commands to the IP address of the server hosting your web site. This unavailability must be directly caused by problems in the connection linking iWeb Technologies Inc. to the Internet and must be verifiable from multiple external Internet hosts.

This unavailability must be caused by problems directly related to the datacenter's electrical supply or to your server or bay's power supply.

All reclamations concerning this guarantee must be done using the “Credit Claims” form located in iWeb's "Customer Hub" section of iWeb's site. All requests must be made within seven (7) days following the end of the month in question. Reclamations must include the starting time of the unavailability, the time when services came back to normal and at least 3 "traceroute" commands taken during the unavailability. Any incomplete reclamation form will be discarded. The request will be processed within 10 to 15 days following its reception.

 

Atlantic.net

Atlantic.Net offers Industry Leading Service Levels backed by a 100% Uptime Guarantee. Atlantic.Net guarantees that all critical infrastructure components will be available 100% of the time in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance. 

  • Network: Atlantic.Net guarantees the network will be available 100% of the time in a given month—excluding scheduled maintenance. If it takes us more than 30 minutes to resolve the network issue from the time the trouble ticket is opened, Atlantic.Net will refund the customer 5% of the monthly fee for each additional 30 minutes of downtime (up to 100% of customer’s monthly fee for the specific equipment affected). 

Network uptime includes functioning of all network infrastructure such as routers, switches and cabling, but does not include software and services running on your server. Network downtime exists when your server is unable to transmit and receive data and Atlantic.Net records such failure in the Atlantic.Net trouble ticket system. Network Downtime is measured from the time a trouble ticket is opened. 

  • Hardware: Atlantic.Net guarantees all hardware components in your server and will replace any failed components at no cost to you. Once Atlantic.Net determines the cause of the problem, hardware replacement will commence. If it takes us more than one hour to replace the faulty hardware from the time the cause is determined, Atlantic.Net will refund 5% of the monthly fee per additional hour of downtime (up to 100% of your monthly fee for the specific server affected).
  • Infrastructure Atlantic.Net guarantees that all critical infrastructure components including power supplied to your server and HVAC, will be available 100% for the time in a given month excluding scheduled maintenance. If it takes us more than 30 minutes to resolve the infrastructure issue from the time the trouble ticket is opened, Atlantic.Net will refund 5% of the monthly fee per additional 30 minutes of downtime (up to 100% of your monthly fee for the specific server affected). Critical infrastructure includes functioning of all power, HVAC, and cabling. Infrastructure downtime exists when your server is shut down due to power or cooling issues and is measured from the time a trouble ticket is opened. 

Specific to Atlantic.Net Cloud Server

SLA Credits: SLA credits will not be issued if the downtime occurred due to scheduled maintenance, if the downtime occurred due to misuse of the Atlantic.Net Cloud Platform, or if you are in breach of any services agreement with Atlantic.Net, until such breach has been resolved. To receive an SLA credit, you must contact Atlantic.Net support within thirty (30) days after the end of the downtime, detailing how your use of the specified Atlantic.Net Cloud Service was adversely affected. This Service Level Guarantee is your sole and exclusive remedy in the event that the Atlantic.Net Cloud Platform is unavailable.

Specific to Atlantic.Net Managed Hosting and Dedicated Servers

Hardware: Excludes reloading operating systems, applications, and rebuilding RAID arrays. If Customer blocks or otherwise prevents Atlantic.Net’s hardware monitoring systems from monitoring the Customer’s affected server, Customer will not be eligible for a hardware related SLA refund.

Infrastructure: does not include the power supplies on customers’ servers.

 

Liquid Web 

Liquid Web provides an industry leading Service Level Agreement (SLA) to our Dedicated Server and VPS customers which includes: 

  • 30 minute Hardware Replacement guarantee: DOES NOT (emphesis mine) include the time required to rebuilding web accounts from backups, cloning hard drives, reloading the operating system, reloading and configuring applications, or rebuilding RAID arrays. 
  • 100% Network Up-time guarantee: Denial of Service" or other form of disabling attack against your Dedicated Server or major portions of our network, Liquid Web will do everything in its power to stop the attack, but cannot guarantee a resolution time. 
  • 30 minute initial response guarantee 

Liquid Web’s fully-managed and core-managed customers are covered by three types of initial response time guarantees: 

The Help Desk Initial Response Time Guarantee (30 Minutes)
 
That means that when you submit a trouble ticket via our help desk system you are guaranteed a response from a Heroic Support® technician within thirty minutes. If Liquid Web fails to respond within thirty minutes, you will be credited 10 times the amount of time exceeding our SLA commitment. That means that if your ticket goes 1 hour past our stated initial response time guarantee, your account will receive a 10 hour hosting credit.
 
Phone Answer Time Guarantee (59 Seconds)
 
We guarantee that a live Heroic Support Agent will answer your phone call within 59 seconds from the time you select the department you wish to speak with. If Liquid Web fails to respond within fifty nine (59) seconds, you will be credited 10 times the amount of time exceeding our SLA commitment. That means that if your phone call goes 6 minutes past our stated initial response time guarantee, your account will receive a 1 hour hosting credit.
 
LiveChat Initial Response Time Guarantee (59 Seconds)
 
We guarantee to have a live Heroic Support Agent answer your LiveChat within 59 seconds after selecting the department and accurately completing the pre-chat survey questions. If Liquid Web fails to respond within fifty nine (59) seconds, you will be credited 10 times the amount of time exceeding our SLA commitment. That means that if your LiveChat goes 6 minutes past our stated initial response time guarantee, your account will receive a 1 hour hosting credit. 
 
In the event that Liquid Web does not meet this SLA, Dedicated Hosting clients will become eligible to request compensation for downtime reported by service monitoring logs. If Liquid Web is or is not directly responsible for causing the downtime, the customer will receive a credit for 10 times ( 1,000% ) the actual amount of downtime. This means that if your server is unreachable for 1 hour (beyond the 0.0% allowed), you will receive 10 hours of credit.
 
All requests for compensation must be received within 5 business days of the incident in question. The amount of compensation may not exceed the customer’s monthly recurring charge. This SLA does not apply for any month that the customer has been in breach of Liquid Web Terms of Service or if the account is in default of payment.

 

Superb Internet

Whether you choose our shared hosting or our dedicated server plans, we guarantee our performance. There's absolutely no risk, because we own our network, our data centers, our IP backbones - the entire network infrastructure is under our control, coast to coast. We have customers throughout the world, and they all get the same superior level of service, leading-edge equipment, reliable performance, and speed.

Superb Transparent SLA Terms 

  • Should there ever be downtime, you get one full day of credit for each hour of downtime.
  • We guarantee zero packet loss from us to our Tier 1 Backbone Providers and Peers. If anything unexpected occurs, you get one day of credit for each 1% of packet loss.
  • Premium transit clients get double credit - two days of credit for each hour.
  • If any of our equipment goes down due to malfunction, we guarantee a replacement unit will be live within two hours. Should Additional Time be Required, You Get a Full Day of Credit for Each Additional Two Hours.
  • Should service not be rendered according to the guaranteed SLA terms, up to 100% of applicable fees on your monthly bill will be credited.
  • Data is measured per consecutive 30-day period.
  • In the highly unlikely event that over any consecutive 30-day period, any one of these events occurs - network downtime exceeds 1% (7 hours), or packet loss from us to Tier 1 providers exceeds 5%, or latency from us to local Tier 1 providers exceeds 20 ms, or a server repair causes more than 24 hours of downtime - you can terminate service immediately at no cost.
HostJury sought clarification from Superb whether the SLA credit was applied automatically, or required a request…. Once we submitted the request, a message appeared that an answer would be forthcoming within 24 hours. There was an email address provided for a quicker response but we'll just update the post!
 

Conclusion

With the infinite number of variables in webhosting, downtime is an inevitable fact. As has been seen just in recent weeks, even the most conscientious host with layers of protection can not prepare for every possible scenario. Whether a company offers 100% uptime guarantee, 99.98, or none at all is little consolation when your website is down.  At the end of the day a webhosting company that is focused on providing good support, and fast servers, at a fair price, will provide less frustration, and more peace of mind than getting your monthly hosting fee as a SLA credit every month. Choose wisely! 
 
Just a little editor’s note to those business tycoon types losing thousands of dollars when their website goes offline for a few minutes... if you are losing 
thousands of dollars, you may want to consider paying more than $3.95 a month for your webhosting!