If 5 nines is a myth, what is 3 nines?

Burned By Gmail Outage? Google Will (Almost) Buy You a Postage Stamp.  Apparently the SLA for Google Apps will get you 3 days if uptime dips below 99.9% for the month.  At $50 annually for the service, that's $0.41.  (Google has decided to pay out 15 days credit, anyway.)

Service credits from the SLA:

Monthly Uptime Percentage Days of Service added to the end of the Service term, at no charge to Customer
< 99.9% - ≥ 99.0% 3
< 99.0% - ≥ 95.0% 7
< 95.0% 15

That's $0.41, $0.96, and $1.91 credit for over 43.2 minutes, 7.2 hours, and 36 hours of downtime, respectively.  I realize that across an entire business, that could potentially be a thousand credits or more, but what business would see a $1.91 per user credit as adequate for 36 hours of downtime in a month?

From these two register articles, Google's email service goes down and Google blames Gmail outage on data centre collapse, it looks like the downtime was about 2 hours and 15 minutes, but there are some reports of outages as long as 4 hours.

There is a nice article on High Availability on Wikipedia to compare uptimes on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

Is cloud computing a threat to Microsoft?

Washington Times - KELLNER: Cloud computing a Microsoft threat?.  From what I've seen, Microsoft is actively combating this with their Software + Services offering.

The battle really comes down to whether you want to drive the car of your choice to work (desktops apps), or depend on public transportation (cloud).  Software + services is like having a Hummer H3 and an unlimited booklet of bus passes   (Personally, I'd prefer cheaper personal transport).

Of course, there are risks with cloud computing as well (What's your "Web Service Tanked" contigency plan?)  Nothing like a transportation worker strike to kill public transportation and leave you stranded with no way home.

Cloud wars are on the horizon.  Yes, running standalone apps are an expensive and inflexible form of transportation.  However, will the business side tolerate staying in the clouds all the time without the option of being able to operate from extended periods on the ground?  I understand that there are offline modes for the best offerings, but they're short term contingencies, not long term operational options.