An SLA for Amazon S3

Amazon has announced an SLA (Service Level Agreement) for its Simple Storage Service (S3).

S3 is great, and I noticed how it kept getting mentioned at the Future of Web Apps conference last week. The fact that people are using it, and liking both the performance and the price, says far more about it than any amount of PR.

The lack of an SLA was a snag for enterprise users who need assurance of reliability. So now there is one – but how much is it worth? Not much. The SLA guarantees 99.9% uptime, but you only get between 10% and 25% discount on your usage fees if it slips below that. There’s no coverage for consequential loss:

…your sole and exclusive remedy for any unavailability or non-performance of Amazon S3 or other failure by us to provide Amazon S3 is the receipt of a Service Credit

Given the keen pricing of S3 that’s not surprising. Still, the SLA does have some value, if only for setting expectations about what level of service S3 is likely to deliver.

Update: WordPress is now using S3 as its primary store, but Matt Mullenweg says the SLA means little to him. 

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5 comments to An SLA for Amazon S3

  • Nick

    Amazon has had several major outages over the past year, I bet that SLA would have come in handy then. Take a look at Nirvanix.

  • It strikes me that an enterprise wants to find a third-party insurer, if the amazon remedy is insufficient to protect against business-interruption losses for failures covered inadequately in the SLA.

    The premium negotation might lead to some sharp cost analysis of alternatives.

  • Tim

    It strikes me that an enterprise wants to find a third-party insurer, if the amazon remedy is insufficient to protect against business-interruption losses for failures covered inadequately in the SLA.

    I agree. But you have to ask: what is the value of the SLA if your only recompense is 25% of the cost, when it’s likely that business interruption is far more expensive?

    Tim

  • For any hosting company, make sure you understand their guarantee when they say something like “4 nines guaranteed!!” – the guarantee can mean “or your money back” OR it can mean they will actually deliver this amount of uptime no matter what (based on years of past reliability). Most people want the actual uptime, not the money back on terrible service! (small consolation if you lost business through downtime) (as Tim says too)

  • S3′s availability is based on failed service requests, but they make no claim about data loss. So if we asume a lost file results in 100% failed requests for that file, you only get a 25% discount, which is most likely not very helpfull to business.

    So yes, an insurance is needed here. Cloud Service Providers are much more like an internal IT departement (which you cannot manage but is highly skilled). You still have all the risk. One needs to undersand this and accept it as an advantage over expensive outsourcing contracts.

    Gruss
    Bernd