More SLA Games: Excluding Maintenance

When negotiating—or surrendering to—a service-level agreement guaranteeing uptime levels with a Web hosting service, retailers need to be cautious of how "downtime" is defined. Pingdom is now blogging about more SLA games, including some hosts that exclude any downtime that they consider maintenance. Here at StorefrontBacktalk, if our site is down, it's of little comfort that it was a planned outage that we never asked about.

Pingdom's post on Monday (Sept. 7) also spoke of hosts that exclude server downtime and only count network downtime. Again, if the site is unavailable, that's downtime. Pingdom is a bit more forgiving, though: "To be fair, for dedicated hosting providers, it would be difficult to guarantee anything else when the customer has control over the server." It also repeated an observation that Pingdom has made before that hosts often ignore smaller outages, even if they have many of them. Of course, for chains, it's not merely situations of Web hosting. These tricks also apply to services handling mobile sites, customer comments, video reviews, shipping and almost anything else your site needs to outsource, especially for the holidays. Sometimes—and may I be forgiven for saying this—it's actually good to have the lawyers involved in SLA negotiations.