I caught this quote from Microsoft Watch, and thought it was very interesting. It definitely addresses an issue I've wondered about for some time. It talks about the WGA server issues and had this great quote from the WGA Product Manager:
"It's important to clarify that this event was not an outage. Our system is designed to default to genuine if the service is disrupted or unavailable. In other words, we designed WGA to give the benefit of the doubt to our customers. If our servers are down, your system will pass validation every time. This event was not the same as an outage because in this case the trusted source of validations itself responded incorrectly"
The individual writing the article questioned how this could not be an outage. After all, there was nearly a day where people could not validate their copy of Windows. So I'm asking this question today and with a few thoughts afterwards.
What's an Outage?
To me it's a client side issue. If the client's can't use the service/app/server, then it's down. If my SQL Server is running and I can connect, but no one outside the data center can, it's an outage.
The question does get tricky. If I can get to SQLServerCentral.com, but people in Canada can't, then is it an outage? In some sense it is, and people have a legitimate gripe about the service not working. It might not be the fault of the service vendor, as it could be a network cut, an ISP issue, etc. However for the client it's down.
Measuring uptime is a hard process these days. Most people would still consider their services up when a server fails if there are redundant servers, like a load balanced farm of web servers, that continue to work. For all I know there's always a few servers down at Google.com or Microsoft.com.
So maybe it's a question of measuring your uptime at the edge of your network, outside your firewall. As long as things are working from there, you can claim uptime is still there. Just be sure you have a couple providers in case your one line goes down.