Five 9's of Availability Is Irrelevant

I had a conversation yesterday with an entrepreneurial friend on several random topics, but one about IT infrastructure needs for consumer mobile applications that publish and fetch content to and from the Web, respectively.  After the discussion, we agreed we're both proponents of utility computing for these backend server capabilities because it's an inexpensive, pay-for-only-what-use alternative to building and hosting your own IT hardware and server-side software infrastructure. If there was one shortcoming, he noted, it was that he encountered at least one US wireless carrier who would not certify mobile applications without fault-tolerant, fail-safe IT backends managed directly by an application developer on their own premises.  I thought about this more following our call, and later recognized how ridiculous this requirement is in today's world were 'fault tolerance' is now irrelevant with computing utilities that have unlimited redundancies to manage fail-over and traffic spikes.  

Across the pond in London, Dean Bubley was having similar thoughts about five-9s, and he says it represents an old-school type of voice-centric carrier thinking that's no longer relevant.  I agree.  If five-9s was still a requirement for apps external to the network, how would it be possible for any one of the thousands iPhone application developers to launch their applications? Could they afford 'carrier-grade' five-9s of availably infrastructure? Of course not, which indicates not only is at least one US carrier (AT&T) clearly willing to dismiss an antiquated five-9s requirement, but so are all the others around the world carrying iPhone who are most likely satisfied with 9-to-5 availability given the abundant choice iPhone has introduced with the subsequent rapid uptake.