Google Research

(Un)Reliability Budgets: Finding Balance between Innovation and Reliability

  • Mark D. Roth
;login:, vol. 40, No. 4 (2015), pp. 26-28


Google is constantly changing our software to implement new, useful features for our users. Unfortunately, making changes is inherently risky. Google services are quite complex, and any new feature might accidentally cause problems for users. In fact, most outages of Google services are the result of deploying a change. As a consequence, there is an inherent tension between the desire to innovate quickly and to keep the site reliable. Google manages this tension by using a metrics-based approach called an unreliability budget, which provides an objective metric to guide decisions involving tradeoffs between innovation and reliability.

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