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Whenever Amazon’s cloud service goes down, the sites and services that rely on it, including Reddit, Quora, and Foursquare, go with it. After a couple of major outages early this year, competitors are aiming for the jugular by promising different approaches that, they say, provide better reliability and performance.

Joyent, a San Francisco-based cloud-computing company, announced a new product on Thursday that promises 99.99 percent uptime, with “downtime measured in seconds,” and no data loss (Amazon promises 99.95 percent). Joyent says it can achieve these improvements by using a different architecture than Amazon does. It also offers analytics tools that give customers more insight into the state of its system.

Concerns about reliability have long been a stumbling block for the cloud-computing industry. Businesses have felt financial pressure to switch to the cloud model, which saves money by shifting storage and processing onto shared computing resources, but many worry about losing control over their data, or wonder what would happen if their chosen provider went down.

These concerns came to the fore after high-profile outages of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud in April and August of this year. This service allows users to rent virtual computing resources, which can be scaled up or down as their needs fluctuate. Some customers lost data during the outages. Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365, two cloud-based office suites, also suffered outages in September.

Joyent has been operating a cloud service for more than six years, and its customers include LinkedIn and Shopzilla. The company says the new service, called Joyent Cloud, adds greater reliability and flexibility to its existing one. Customers can also, for the first time, use any operating system in combination with it, and Joyent now offers an application programming interface that makes it easier for software developers to build programs that use its cloud services.

To allow customers to better understand what’s happening in the event of a slowdown, Joyent has added features that let customers see statistics showing, for example, how long it takes for information to travel from one point to another in the system.

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Tagged: Computing, cloud computing, Amazon, cloud

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