“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” as the saying goes. And in the world of managed hosting, providers that claim they can guarantee 100 percent uptime are too good to be true.
All hosting providers will suffer from downtime — even if it is just for a few seconds. When it comes to choosing a hosting provider, you should be considering just how much downtime you are able to afford, and how to find a provider that will deliver on their uptime promises.
The cost of downtime is difficult to measure, but it can be costly, said Paul Mah, writing for IT Business Edge. Lost revenue, disgruntled customers, a negative reputation and complaints about poor customer service all could be devastating to your business. However, that doesn’t mean you should trust any provider that guarantees 100 percent uptime, said Tarun Bhatti, senior product marketing manager for hosting provider Rackspace.
“One hundred percent uptime is not something any hosting provider can deliver consistently,” he said. “Even ‘Six 9s,’ or 99.9999 percent uptime requires million-dollar, continuous-availability servers” that not many traditional hosting providers can afford.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t carefully investigate any provider’s service level agreement (SLA) to determine how much uptime they can provide, and work to maximize that uptime. Just remember that the greater the uptime, the more costly the managed hosting solution, Bhatti said.
He suggests asking any potential managed hosting provider how they measure their uptime. There are a number of different metrics, some more granular than others. Some providers measure monthly, while others do so more frequently. On a day-to-day basis, some providers measure every thirty minutes, while some check as frequently as every five seconds. Ask your potential provider how and how often they measure uptime, and make sure it’s spelled out in your terms of service.
In addition, Bhatti advises asking any managed hosting provider whether they publish their uptime status publicly, or whether that information is only available to customers who have a valid username and password? It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if the information isn’t public, but it does tell you something about that provider’s transparency.
Finally, ask how (and how much) you will be compensated if you do experience downtime that exceeds what the provider has guaranteed. Since every provider will experience downtime, this is a crucial factor to explore with any potential managed hosting solution.
You also can track providers’ average uptime using freely available tools like Netcraft, Bhatti said. Netcraft tracks the uptime of all major hosting providers every fifteen minutes.
While downtime can be an unsettling experience for your business, being prepared for the eventuality and making sure your chosen provider also is up to the challenge can make the reality of downtime much easier to handle.
About the Author: Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from data center technology to holistic veterinary care and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.