Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer
Here is Apple's downtown relative to a year over year ratio:
Errm, the Apple Store has been down many times over the past year, so the downtime is higher. Basically every time there's been a product update.
However, as others have commented, perhaps the Apple Store updates are done crudely on purpose, to build excitement for those who like to line up for things. It does have a bit of retro charm :)
On the downside, it's also a way to lose customers. Imagine if eBay or Amazon or MasterCard was brought down for hours each time something new was added. A lot of potential buyers would just skip past to another source.
In any event, I can't see any good reason to do the same for the Apple Developer's network.
Half of my career has been spent helping to design high availability / fast recovery systems for casinos and phone companies.
Carriers and other utilities popularized the idea of the Five Nines (99.999% availability, or less than five minutes downtime a year). Nobody wants their phones or power taken down just for updates. Casinos need 24/7 availability or they lose revenue... not to mention that losing customer credit information in today's digital gambling terminals due to a system failure, is simply not an option.
Of course, such high availability is expensive. It requires redundant installations, long term backup power, dedicated communication lines, geographic failover plans, and a staff available all the time. In many cases, an exact duplicate of the production system is built in an off-site building, where software updates can be tested before installation into production. Many paid testers are involved. (It's also a bit like NASA. If a failure occurs in production, you can try to simulate the problem and test fixes in the duplicate system.)
The upshot is, obviously it's possible to do updates with taking a store site down. It all depends on how much the company cares about availability, or what their intention is.