TWT Blog

99 Problems But Availability Ain't One

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It’s time we talk about the way IT service companies use the “nines.”

There’s a good chance you’ve come across these numbers before: 99%, 99.9%, 99.99% and 99.999%. It’s likely you encountered the nines when your last IT provider sold you its products. IT service companies often bust out the nines to convince customers how reliable and stable their systems are.

“You can rely on the nines,” they say.

But what the heck are the nines, anyway? Is 99.9% really all that different than 99.999%?

They may look like the same numbers, but they are actually very different.

Simply put, the nines indicate the uptime you can expect from your IT service company, not including scheduled downtimes. Alternatively, you can think of the nines as how much time you should expect your service to be unavailable without warning.

As a business, you want to see as little downtime as possible from your IT service company.

We don’t believe in geek speak, so we’re going to break it down even further. These numbers show the downtime you can expect each year — also called the Service Level Agreement — depending on how many nines we use:

99% (Two nines) — No more than 3.65 days per year of unscheduled downtime.
99.9% (Three nines) — No more than 8.76 hours per year of unscheduled downtime.
99.99% (Four nines) — No more than 52.56 minutes per year of unscheduled downtime.
99.999% (Five nines) — No more than 5.26 minutes per year of unscheduled downtime.

If your IT service company says it guarantees 99.9% uptime, it means your service won’t be down any more than 8.76 hours per year due to unexpected outages.

Microsoft, for example, provides provides a 99.9% (three nines) Service Level Agreement for its hosted email. In this case, your email wouldn’t be unexpectedly down for more than 8.76 hours each year or 43.2 minutes per month.

Those numbers are good enough for Microsoft but frankly, they aren’t good enough for TWT Group or its clients. We prefer five nines.

Here’s our Service Level Agreement for our hosted services:

Hosted Exchange email – 99.999%
Hosted Lync messaging – 99.999%
Hosted Sharepoint – 99.999%
Hosted file sharing – 99.999%
Hosted cloud servers – 99.999%
Hosted PBX VOIP phones – 99.999%
Hosted websites - 99.999%

That’s right — five nines across the board. We guarantee less than 5.26 minutes of unplanned downtime per year.

Our job is to keep your business running, online and connected, and we take it seriously. We back our guarantees financially. For more details about this just ask.

Click here for our System Availability Dashboard

Want to chat about this more? Visit our website or call us at 1-403-775-6100.

Photo 1: http://flic.kr/p/a8snVC

Topics: Business Continuity