Google recently extended what it describes as highly advanced and sophisticated data backup and recovery to all components of its Apps communication and collaboration suite.
The level of protection, both in terms of the amount of data preserved and of service restoration time, is typically only affordable to very large companies and cloud computing vendors, according to Google. At the core is real time, synchronous replication in multiple servers and data centres of every morsel of data entered into or modified in any of the Apps components, like Gmail, the Docs office suite, Sites and Calendar.
"Anytime you change any data in Apps, whether writing a sentence in a document or changing a cell in a spreadsheet, in the background we go and write that data to multiple servers within one data centre and also in other data centres," said Rajen Sheth, Google Apps senior product manager.
Over several years, Google has been adding Apps components to this "best in class" disaster recovery umbrella, to the point where the entire suite is now covered. Also included are standalone Apps components versions, such as regular Gmail, Docs and Sites accounts. "Now we have it across all of our applications," he said.
Google doesn't charge for this disaster-recovery protection, whose goal in the event of a system failure in a Google server or facility is to lose no data and provide "instant" failover for minimal or no downtime, above what is possible with even a very expensive storage area network (SAN), Sheth said.
Google has often caught heat whenever its hosted applications suffer downtime, particularly Gmail, although those instances have decreased over time. While Google expresses regret whenever one of its online services goes down, it also usually points out that its uptime exceeds those of the typical IT department.
Some large companies have invested in synchronous replication of the sort Google is able to do, but at a cost that is prohibitive to most enterprises and smaller businesses. Google is able to provide this disaster recovery protection for free because it operates many data centers around the world that are connected via high-speed links, Sheth said.
Google will post a blog detailing the technology, partly to announce the protection for the entire Apps suite but also because it has realised that this background infrastructure information is important to share as it courts CIOs and IT managers at large enterprises, Sheth said. Big IT departments can appreciate the benefits and cost savings of this disaster recovery protection.
"We haven't talked all that publicly about this," Sheth said.
Apps is free in its Standard and Education editions, and costs $50 per user per year in the Premier version, which offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. Google officials have said the goal is to raise that guarantee to 99.999 percent uptime.