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Cloud Service Provider OutagesSome of the largest apps and websites available to the public today are hosted by cloud service providers with internationally recognized names — Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform are just a few examples. Due to the huge user base involved, anytime these servers encounter downtime, the outage’s impact can be incredibly detrimental not just to the overall goals of, say, Amazon or Google, but also to any organization relying on their cloud services for their own functionality.

Cloud computing offers businesses large upsides in terms of cost, flexibility, and ease of use. Being able to simply pull up what you need without having to worry about the physical limits in on-site data centers or storage allows small organizations to scale rapidly. Any cloud services outage, however, can hamstring your productivity entirely.

How does an outage occur?

There are many different reasons a Cloud Service Provider outage might occur. Even with the incredibly rapid advances in modern technology, outages still happen surprisingly often. Due to this fact CSPs often provide service-level agreements that describe reimbursement policies in the event of a sustained outage.

Most cloud centers are able to guarantee 99.99% or better uptime, but that still leaves the risk of a particular type of event that could bring the cloud infrastructure you depend on to a halt. Some reasons why outages may possily occur include:

    • Hardware Failure — Any damage or fault in the switch, router, or fiber running into the datacenter itself could cause downtime.
    • Software Update Failure — SaaS or PaaS products may experience downtime during upgrades, if errors occur during the upgrading process.
    • Bad Weather — Yes, it’s true… even bad weather can take out a cloud datacenter. Just recently, one of Google’s own data centers experienced data loss due to a lightning strike.
    • CybercrimeCyber attacks are on the rise, and Cloud service providers are rapidly becoming popular targets. Always set up two-factor authorization on your accounts, and never login to your cloud services without using some sort of encrypted connection.

How can a Cloud Outage be Prevented?

As many products these days have gone either mostly or totally digital, CSP outages impact more than just the bottom line. Jobs and even reputations can be at stake in the midst of a cloud outage.

As many businesses have chosen to use the cloud exclusively in order to save costs on server storage and operation, customer-facing apps and services can be taken out in even short-term outages. Many organizations work with a single cloud service provider, but using multiple CSPs can help to protect your organization against the damage that can be caused by prolonged outages by leaving you still able to access the essential infrastructure you need most.

Here are some tips to help your organization mitigate the impact of a cloud outage:

      • Always use the best practices involved with managing and updating your infrastructure, apps and services.
      • Carefully examine the maintenance schedules of your services and always backup your data before performing an update.
      • Consider keeping a copy of your virtual machines and data stored in another data center so that it can be spun up if needed to accommodate your customers. For example, if you host an app at Azure, consider keeping a copy of the data in an AWS data center or vice versa.
      • Setup text message alerts for your CSP in case an outage is reported. This will allow you to put your contingency plan in motion. You may also monitor your cloud service providers reported outages web page, which should provide up to the minute details on service impacting conditions.
      • Test and automate your failover solutions regularly to ensure the integrity of your system, should a cloud failure occur. Talented system administrators can usually script a failover solution for your infrastructure and create a trigger that causes these changes to happen autonomously.

The Future is in the Cloud. We’re Here to Help.

Rather than wait to act until after a cloud outage has damaged your business or even your reputation, give BACS a call. From our home base here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we provide high-tech IT support for everything from Silicon Valley startups needing help with basic Security Services to large enterprises looking for total Managed IT services nationwide. We make sure our clients can focus on their work, while we keep the infrastructure up to par. Schedule your on-site consultation today by giving us a call at (650) 887-4601 or contact us online at any time.

Business' Biggest Threat

Published on 19th July 2016 by James Berger.