Is Your Company Ready For A Cloud Service Outage?

Is Your Company Ready For A Cloud Service Outage?

If you are using one of the major CSPs (cloud service providers) you may already be used to major service outages. Amazon EC2, Rackspace, Google Apps and Microsoft Azure have all had their fair share of outages in the past 18 months, and some of them have been huge failures (Amazon’s April 2011 outage lasted 47 hours for some customers), which have brought down sites such as Reddit. However, companies such as Netflix have been able to survive the outages well. In this post, I will cover details on how you can effectively manage a service outage by taking note of best practices from Netflix and other companies that have successfully weathered the storm.

Create a disaster management fire-drill

Fire drills should be an essential part of cloud management. Once a month, have a fire drill to simulate failures in different parts of the system to see how your systems hold up in case of failures. This includes preparing your PR and customer service personnel, instituting quality control processes and executing an executive-level contingency plan to prevent panic from gripping the company.

Have all your data backed up securely

Periodically back up data and store it away from your primary CSP. For example, you could have an Amazon S3 instance to back up your Rackspace cloud installation. This will mitigate against a single point of failure.

Keep another service provider ready

Have another CSP ready to run an instance of your server at short notice, if needed. Even if it doesn’t provide full features for the site, this plan B should provide a minimum working subset. (In an email application, for instance, the service must allow you to send and receive email, even if contracts and archive access is not restored.)

Create stateless systems

One of the lessons Netflix offered was to build stateless systems where possible. That means a new request from the client can be served by any of the available servers, even if the original server to which the client made the request is down. This requires very careful planning during development.

Work on graceful degradation

Your system has a graceful degradation when a certain percentage of failure causes only an equivalent percentage drop in performance instead of bringing down the whole system. To enable graceful degradation, you must detect failures quickly (set  quick timeouts when the system recognizes a failure) and shut down all non-essential features of the system (to save precious resources for critical features).

Create a communication plan to keep customers in the loop

If there is an outage at your CSP, your customers will also be affected. Imagine you are running an online store and the outage has prevented you from shipping. Even if none of the previous disaster management steps worked, you could save some of the bad press by keeping the customers and other stakeholders regularly informed of the status. Identify proper communication channels and create a plan to keep all of them in the loop. This requires having a backup of customer contact data, writing FAQs and preparing your employees to handle questions appropriately.

Having a proper service outage plan is essential to the survival of your business in the long-term. It could save a lot of headaches, not to mention your brand value, when failures do happen.

By Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji

Balaji Viswanathan is the founder of Agni Innovation Labs that helps startups and small businesses with their marketing and tech strategy. He has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Maryland and has been blogging for the past 7 years on technology and business related topics.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+Share

4 Responses to Is Your Company Ready For A Cloud Service Outage?

  1. Every time there’s a major cloud outage, one question always confused user; should they be putting their trust and data in the technology? One good outcome from this article is that outages don’t make cloud computing unreliable or risky. You just need to be prepared to go to a backup plan. Companies can make strategies not to move all their applications to cloud and in particular critical applications like customer relationship management, business facing or trading applications can sit as standalone apps. One more aspect came out here – company need to find out how their cloud provider supports them in case of outages. Always keep in place a disaster recovery plan.

  2. Every time there’s a major cloud outage, one question always confused user; should they be putting their trust and data in the technology? One good outcome from this article is that outages don’t make cloud computing unreliable or risky. You just need to be prepared to go to a backup plan. Companies can make strategies not to move all their applications to cloud and in particular critical applications like customer relationship management, business facing or trading applications can sit as standalone apps. One more aspect came out here – company need to find out how their cloud provider supports them in case of outages. Always keep in place a disaster recovery plan.

Join Our Newsletter

Receive updates each week on news, tips, events, comics and much more...

Popular

Top Viral Impact

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter The city of the future is impeccably documented. Sensors are used to measure air quality, traffic patterns, and crowd movement. Emerging neighborhoods are quickly recognized, public safety threats are found via social networks, and emergencies are dealt with quicklier. Crowdsourcing reduces commuting times, provides people with better transportation

Cloud Infographic: The Education Of Tomorrow

Cloud Infographic: The Education Of Tomorrow

Cloud Infographic: The Education Of Tomorrow  Online Education is a very exciting topic for many as it opens up many new doors and opportunities. We’ve touched on areas such as Massive Open Online Sources (MOOC) which provides tremendous levels of cloud based interconnectivity. We’ve taken a look into higher education,  the increased demand for online courses as well as

Cloud Infographic – The Power Of Cloud Disaster Recovery

Cloud Infographic – The Power Of Cloud Disaster Recovery

Cloud Infographic – The Power Of Cloud Disaster Recovery Preventing a Cloud Disaster is one thing. Recovering from a disaster is a whole other area of concern. Today’s infographic provided by CloudVelox outlines some best practices and safeguards in order to help your business make more informed decisions. About Latest Posts BalajiBalaji Viswanathan is the

Can I Contribute To CloudTweaks?

Yes, much of our focus in 2015 will be on working with other influencers in a collaborative manner. If you're a technology influencer looking to collaborate long term with CloudTweaks – a globally recognized leader in cloud computing information – drop us an email with “tech influencer” in the subject line.

Please review the guidelines before applying.