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Cloud outages: How to weather the storm

Author: Nop Srinara - Director, Datto Asia

If you believe that all your data is magically safe from all harm once it’s in the cloud, Microsoft’s latest data centre outage is telling you to think again.
 
The latest in a string of outages, the incident which took place earlier this month and affected more than a million users across the globe, including Singapore and Southeast Asia, was caused by a lightning strike that caused Microsoft’s South Central U.S. Datacenter in San Antonio, Texas to shut down its mechanical cooling systems. This meant that any business using the firm’s Office 365, Azure Active Directory and Visual Studio Team Services were unable to access a range of cloud services for as long as 24 hours, including emails, files and SharePoint sites.
 
24 hours might seem like a drop in the ocean, however downtime can have a serious impact on your business, no matter how big or small your operation.
 
According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute and depending on the operation can cost between $140,000 and $540,000 per hour. Note that this is an average cost – that number could be lower or much higher depending on your business.
 
There are many things that can trigger downtime – from equipment failure, DDoS attacks, weather events or data corruption, and downtime can also have wider reaching negative implications for your business, damaging customer relationships and trust, and ultimately your reputation.
 
What we can learn from the Microsoft power outage is that despite advancements in technology and increased infrastructure robustness, businesses will always be at risk of suffering downtime. This is not something you can control. What you can control however is how prepared you are.
 
So, if you have business-critical applications running in either a public or private cloud environment, how should you prepare to weather an outage? What contingency plans and procedures should you put in place to help get you through?
 
1. Backup!
It goes without saying that it’s vital to regularly backup data and resources that are stored on-premise, but you should also backup what you store in the cloud to be extra certain that you don’t lose valuable data. This most recent outage shows why keeping a second copy of your data stored independently of your SaaS application is important. 
 
2. Consider a move to private cloud
Consider moving your company’s data to a private, purpose-built cloud. A purpose-built, private cloud can offer increased control when it comes to potential outages, as well as offer other benefits such as increased security, flexibility and optimisation. More and more businesses are seeing this as a viable solution, with enterprise IT spending expected to reach nearly $100 billion by 2021.
 
3. Have a plan!
Every business is different, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ for downtime, so asking yourself, ‘what does recovery look like?’ and ‘what are your most critical systems?’ will be essential in helping you to prioritise your recovery tasks.
 
Establishing recovery goals from the outset, will help you to create a plan which aligns to your business priorities and objectives. Ask yourself questions like, ‘what date / time should I recover from?’, and ‘what approach should I use to do this?’ - For instance, file restore or local virtualisation or offsite virtualisation?
 
4. Consider DRaaS
 
Downtime is stressful, and the tasks around it can feel overwhelming and too numerous to count. This is where Data Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) comes in. Covering any cause of downtime, including ransomware attacks, natural disaster or a server crash, DRaaS is a cloud computing and backup service model that uses cloud resources to protect your system from downtime when disaster strikes.
 
Working to replicate infrastructure and applications, DRaaS uses secure off-site locations to provide full system recovery based on your business.
 
5. Go with an MSP!

Implementing and managing the above measures can be overwhelming, representing a lot of work and money,  however by working with an experienced Managed Service Provider (MSP) you can rest safe in the knowledge that everything is taken care of when it comes to preparing for even the worst case scenario. This approach could also save you money - taking away the need to pay for individual software and giving you peace of mind that your business and reputation are in good hands.
 
To conclude
 
Remember that there are many things that can happen to interrupt your business, but being well-prepared can help you mitigate the effects of such downtime which can make a huge difference to your business and your bottom line.
 
To find out more about protecting your business from downtime, you can download Datto’s Ebook: The Cost of Downtime here.

 

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