Alibaba Cloud has unveiled an upgraded service level agreement (SLA) that offers a heightened commitment of 99.995 percent availability for services deployed across multiple availability zones within a cloud region.

– Alibaba

Splitting hairs?

An availability rate of 99.995 percent across a cloud region is better than the 99.99 percent offered by competitors, says Alibaba Cloud. An availability of 99.995 percent equates to a downtime of some 26.5 minutes annually; 99.99 percent allows for 52.6 minutes of downtime per year - so the improvement represents a halving of allowable downtime.

It is worth noting that while cloud giants typically tout an SLA of 99.99 percent, this only applies to multi-instance deployments that spread across more than one availability zones. For example, Microsoft Azure offers an SLA of 99.9 percent for any single instance virtual machine, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) does not offer an SLA for deployments on a single availability zone.

Alibaba Cloud also announced that it has raised availability from 99.95 percent to 99.975 percent for single instances. The 99.95 percent availability commitment was first offered by the Chinese cloud giant in February 2018.

Figuring out the uptime of cloud providers can be tricky due to differing ways that cloud providers use for determining and reporting downtime. Moreover, SLAs do not necessarily correlate to reliability, but is merely a promise tied to compensation. Claims with technical proof must often be filed to be considered as well, which means that downtimes that were not detected by the customer might not be compensated.

“As more IT applications and infrastructures across various industries transition to cloud-native platforms, Alibaba Cloud has the responsibility to ensure our customers can count on even higher levels of availability and reliability as they conduct their business in the cloud,” said Jiangwei Jiang, partner of Alibaba Group and head of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Utility Products.

“Our industry-leading cloud availability rates are codified in our Service Level Agreement and is part of our commitment to our customers that Alibaba Cloud is a reliable partner that will be there to support their growth ambitions every step of the way,” he said.