You have taken the step and sent key software and systems online to the cloud. So, what happens when your expensive cloud service fails and you’ve lost vital access to your on-demand information and systems stored in the cloud?
It’s a vital question and it will be asked more and more as a larger proportion of companies and organisations move their systems to a cloud based platform and away from internal IT systems.
There have been some well publicised examples of cloud based systems failing, further damaging the reputation of cloud based IT systems.
Take Microsoft for example, which suffered downtime of its online Office 365 software service towards the end of last year (see further reading, below). While their service offering was only down for just 2 short hours, it was the second time in as many months that there have been severe issues for the hosted software suite.
The software giant is definately not alone in it’s system failure. Amazon’s EC2 system has had major service downtime in April of 2011, as did Google’s online email system, Gmail in February 2011 (see further reading).
Outages and unscheduled downtime then, seem to be relatively commonplace for cloud systems. At a time when cloud systems providers are trying to build a good reputation for cloud systems as a credible business alternative, any and all kinds of access issue could persuade decision makers that outsourcing IT systems is not worth the risk. Remember that the media is watching closely. Any downtime is obvious to customers and will be covered by the press, so why would anyone consider a Cloud system over more traditional IT offerings.
Here’s an opposing viewpoint that is rarely seen in the mass media: outages are minimal and in all honestly, they haven’t actually been that serious.
The reason cloud systems providers are so closely examined is because they are paid serious amounts of cash to get the delivery of cloud systems right, which also helps explain why outages are minimal and their systems are often public facing.
Think about your internal computer systems: when was the last time there were issues with your infrastructure that caused downtime in the office, I imagine it’s a fairly regular occurance and of course it’s unlikely that these issues have been reported or even seen by the mass media?
Think about your internal IT systems again. When things go pear shaped, does it take a long time to get the systems up and running again? Are you sure that you have a reliable system that gives you the best possible resources for key projects? Any online cloud service could well fail occasionally, but the downtime will be brief and when you compare that with the reliability of an internally managed old fashioned IT system, is it really that bad?
A forward thinking company will look to how the cloud combines their internal resources with high quality on-demand technology provision providing a “best of both worlds” system. The cloud is not totally risk-free but by dealing with a respected cloud services provider, it is substantially less of a risk than an internally-delivered IT systems.