Reliability is often attributed as one of the reasons some organizations are wary of the cloud. If other cloud services providers are getting the same uptime that Microsoft recently claimed Office 365 has, then maybe the industry can start putting that fear to rest.

This is the first time Microsoft has released uptime information for Office 365, and it outlined uptime quarter-to-quarter over the last year. According to a blog post written by Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Office Live, the four quarters between July 2012 and July 2013 showed average uptime of 99.98 percent, 99.97 percent, 99.94 percent and 99.97 percent, respectively.

That's a pretty good record for a two-year-old service, and it seems that of all things, Microsoft doesn't want to be accused of having poor cloud service. And they fit with the Office 365 SLA of 99.9 percent uptime. However, Jha doesn't go into detail as to exactly what "uptime" means in this context. In many reports of this nature, "uptime" doesn't take into account "scheduled downtime." And that could very well be the case here, as well.

Geographic location also plays a role in uptime. The numbers Jha provided are for business users (the figures don't include consumers) on a global basis, but he noted in his blog post that locations may experience higher or lower uptime percentages when compared to the global statistic.

"While information has been available in detail for our current customers, today we're making this information available to all customers considering Office 365. We measure availability as the number of minutes that the Office 365 service is available in a calendar month as a percentage of the total number of minutes in that month," Jha wrote.

Microsoft plans to continue publishing uptime numbers on a quarterly basis.

This is great news for Microsoft partners selling Office 365 to their customers. When customers question the reliability of the cloud service, having hard figures to back up reliability claims will go a long way to dealing with such concerns. It may even be the kicker to get those on the fence to take the leap into Office 365. And it gives Microsoft an added boost over competitors such as Google Apps.