In 2010, Gmail was available 99.984 percent of the time, for both business and consumer users. Google’s aim for 2011 is to improve that to 99.99 percent and make GMail as reliable as the dial tone on your landline.

The 99.984 percent figure translates to seven minutes of downtime per month, and less than one and a half hours for the whole year. That seven-minute average represents the accumulation of small delays of a few seconds, and most people experienced no issues at all. It’s particularly stunning to note that this was accomplished without any planned downtime while launching 30 new features and adding tens of millions of active users.

Seven minutes of downtime compares very favorably with on-premises email, which is subject to much higher rates of interruption that hurt employee productivity. The latest research from the Radicati Group found that on-premises email averaged 3.8 hours of downtime per month. In comparison to Radicati’s metrics for on-premises email, Google’s calculations suggest that Gmail is 32 times more reliable than the average email system, and 46 times more available than Microsoft Exchange®*.

Email is much more complex than your home phone, so making it as reliable as the dial tone is no mean feat. Every time you reach for your phone you expect it to work. And Google believe that is a worthwhile benchmark.

*The Radicati Group, 2010. “Corporate IT Survey – Messaging & Collaboration, 2010-2011”

This story was taken from the Official Google Enterprise Blog.