“Our goal is zero uptime,” said the CEO of GitHub in a press conference yesterday. “Many people use GitHub every day, and keeping our service reliable is simply too difficult to continue.”
This comes after a bold statement earlier this year, where GitHub set its sights for 99.999% uptime. Since then, GitHub struggled to uphold its lofty goal in a series of service outages over the past few months, most recently a stylesheet error that caused GitHub pages to lose all CSS styling. Now, GitHub is dropping its previous goal altogether. GitHub sysadmin Ramon Lyons explains this shift. “Our service is held together with the latest and greatest web frameworks, like MongoDB and Express. Our backend also consists of many nodejs microservices that perform the day-to-day repo operations our users need,” he told Nonfree News. “Unfortunately, constantly switching to the newest technologies means stability needs to suffer a little bit. We’ve decided that it’s simply too difficult to keep fighting downtime, which is often caused by nodejs runtime type errors in our code, bugs in the latest versions of our web frameworks, and our servers running out of RAM.” This is why now, instead of fighting the downtime, GitHub is embracing it.
Over 20 million developers regularly rely on GitHub to host their projects, and the constant downtime can be annoying. Understandably, some users are not happy with this change. Elizabeth Jackson, a GitHub social justice advocate, told Nonfree News “Before I found GitHub, I was using Google Drive and unsecured FTP for backing up my code. Without GitHub, I’ll be forced to move back to those systems.” She said she is also upset that she will no longer be able to comment on GitHub repo issue trackers. “How can I be a social justice advocate if I can’t open pull requests fixing the offensive language and terminology that is in almost every repository, or create issues for projects not following the Contributor Code of Conduct?” Others are largely content with the new shift in policy, like David Ochs, a self-proclaimed code artisan with over 2000 stars on his latest Electron app on GitHub. Says Ochs, “I understand that maintaining such a large system is difficult, especially in 2017. You have to make sure you’re using the latest web-scale technologies, and reliability for these things can sometimes be sub-par – though projects usually fix things in the next version. I’d be OK with 0% uptime for GitHub, because I know at least they’re following the best practices for modern web development.”