99.999% Uptime vs. 99.9% Uptime: The Difference Two Extra “Nines” Make

January 28, 2019

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When choosing a cloud provider, one thing you should prioritize is a high uptime guarantee. The greater the cloud uptime, the less likely you’ll ever have to worry about performance issues or downtime for your business.

But how many “nines” is good enough?

While 99.9% uptime, or even 99.99% uptime might sound incredible, without all five nines, you could be putting your business at risk of hours of unplanned downtime a year. Let’s break down the math and look at what difference those extra “nines” make.

What Is Cloud Uptime?

When your business uses any type of cloud service, the uptime is the percentage of time that that service is accessible to your end users. Essentially, when the servers are operational, your users should be able to access the application.

With cloud providers, the more “nines” in the service level agreement, the more uptime you can count on.

A lot of cloud providers offer three nines, or a 99.9% availability guarantee. While this uptime number looks high, what this really means is that your business should anticipate service availability issues every year. With just three nines, your business could experience several hours of downtime a year! Even with four nines, you’re looking at the potential for nearly an hour of downtime annually. 

But with 99.999% uptime, you can say goodbye to worries about availability.

99.9% Uptime vs. 99.999% Uptime

While 99 hundredths of a percentage point might not seem like a big difference, it can cost your business thousands of dollars due to unexpected downtime.

According to the Veeam Data Protection Report 2021, the average cost of one hour of downtime is $84,650. While the cost of downtime varies by industry and business size, no matter what, downtime can quickly turn into an expensive problem. When your company can’t communicate with customers and employees can’t collaborate for part of the workday, your business can’t function.

But that’s exactly what can happen with 99.9% uptime.

With a 99.9% uptime service level agreement, your business could face up to 8.76 hours of downtime a year or about 10 minutes every week.

With five nines, which means you have a 99.999% uptime guarantee, you can count on less than 26 seconds of downtime each month and no more than 5.26 minutes a year.

So which works better for your business – 8 hours or 5 minutes of potential downtime?

Is There Such a Thing as 100% Availability?

In a perfect world, your cloud services would be available to users all of the time, but 100% availability is extremely rare. And cloud providers don’t usually guarantee zero interruption because there are simply too many things that can go wrong when you’re dealing with a complex cloud infrastructure.

It is possible to not have any uptime issues for months at a time, however. And with the right service provider and a high cloud uptime guarantee, your users probably won’t even notice the few seconds of downtime that might occur on occasion.

The goal for your business is to look at the maximum amount of downtime your business could face and determine if you’re willing to take the risk of the amount of downtime that’s possible.

For most businesses, “five nines” is the gold standard. That translates to about six seconds of potential downtime a week.

Evaluating Your SLA

The reality is that ensuring a high level of application availability requires a top-quality data center. The architecture, security, and level of expertise amongst the engineers have to be extremely high.

You should look at the uptime guarantee in the service level agreement before signing up for cloud services to verify that your provider can deliver the level of performance your business requires. This information will show you how reliable your cloud services will be. It also says a lot about the quality of the hosting provider in general. If they can offer at least five nines, you know they are doing everything possible to deliver the best for their customers.

In addition to high reliability, you also want to pay attention to security, onboarding, and support. Here are some of the things you should expect:

  • Comprehensive physical data center security
  • Multi-tenant platform security
  • Network intrusion protection and enterprise-class firewalls
  • Data replication at the server and client level
  • Third-party audits to verify the effectiveness of security controls
  • Included custom cloud migration
  • Onboarding that won’t lead to downtime or data loss
  • Support around the clock and access to senior technicians

How Intermedia Offers 99.999% Uptime

When you choose Intermedia for your cloud services, you can count on industry-leading availability. We understand how critical it is to have access to your cloud communications tools at all times. Whether your customers can’t connect with your contact center agents to resolve an issue or your employees can’t access your systems to work, downtime is a risk your business shouldn’t have to deal with.

At Intermedia, we offer a financially backed service level agreement (SLA) that guarantees 99.999% cloud uptime. We are able to do this thanks to our world-class data centers, the internet providers we use to connect our data centers to the world, and the expert knowledge and experience of our cloud architects and engineers. Find out more about our infrastructure and how we’re able to offer superior reliability and performance in our white paper, Not All Clouds Are Created Equal.

Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Sr Marketing Communications Manager at Intermedia

January 28, 2019

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