Cloud Availability: Are You Feeling Lucky?

Cloud Availability: Are You Feeling Lucky?

Cloud Availability

I’m a firm believer in having control over anything that can get me fired. So, while the cloud is wonderful for solving all sorts of IT issues, only the bold, the brave or the career suicidal place business-critical applications so completely out of their own control.

My company began pushing applications to the cloud around 2004. Today the majority of our applications are cloud-based. Our most important applications, however, stay in-house and run on fault-tolerant servers. I know everything about them … where they are, what platform they are running on, when and how they are maintained, where data are stored, what the current rev levels are for everything that touches them. More importantly, I know what is being done and by whom if the server goes down, which hasn’t happened in years. Thanks to how my platform is architected, I can be reasonably sure when applications will be back up and running. And, problem’s root cause will not be lost to the ether. This is how I sleep well at night.

On the other hand, having a critical application go offline in the cloud is a CIO’s nightmare. The vendor is as vague about the problem as it is estimating recovery time, saying (or, posting to Twitter) only that they are looking in to it. Of the thousands or millions of clients they have (think Go Daddy), whose applications come back first and whose are last? No matter how cleverly you phrase your response when the executive office calls for a status update, the answer still comes across as, “I have no idea what’s going on.”

No worries, you have a failover plan to switch to another location or back-up provider. This being the first time you are actually doing it for real, some critical dependencies or configuration errors surface that were missed in testing. All this also adds cost and complexity to a solution that was supposed to yield the opposite result.

Why this is important

Getting sacked notwithstanding, losing critical applications to downtime is extremely costly, whether they reside in the cloud or internal data center. Many may think this is stating the obvious. In our experience, corroborated by ample industry research, more than half of all companies make no effort to measure downtime costs. Those who do, usually underestimate by a wide margin.

Cost-of-downtime estimates provided by a number of reputable research firms exceed $100,000 per hour for the average company. The biggest cost culprits, of course, are the applications your company relies on most and would want up and running first after an outage. The thought of ceding responsibility to a third-party for keeping these applications available 24/7 … whose operations you have no control over, whose key success metric is the lowest possible cost per compute cycle, whose SLAs leave mission-critical applications hanging over the precipice … is anathema.

This is not an indictment against cloud service providers. This is only the current reality, which will improve with time. Today’s reality is completely acceptable for more enterprise applications than not, as it is in my company. Regrettably for some companies, it’s even acceptable for critical workloads.

At a recent CIO conference my conversation with a peer from a very recognizable telecom and electronics company turned to application availability. I was confounded to hear him declare how thrilled he’d be with 99.9% uptime for critical applications, which I believe is the level most cloud providers aspire to, and ordinary servers are capable of. If analysts’ downtime cost estimates are anywhere close to reality, 99.9% uptime translates into about $875,000 in cost per year for the average company. This was a Fortune 500 firm.

Determining the total of hard and soft downtime costs is not easy, which is why it’s often not done well if at all. For example, downtime impact can ripple to departments and business functions beyond the core area. There may be contractual penalties. News headlines may be written.

Making technology choices without knowing your complete downtime costs is a crap shoot. Making informed ROI decisions is impossible. You may even find that savings from moving not-so-critical applications to the cloud are inconsequential, as I did with our company’s email system. That will stay in-house. And, I will continue to sleep soundly.

By Joe Graves – CIO of Stratus Technologies

Joe was named CIO of Stratus Technologies in 2002.  During his tenure, Joe has recreated the Stratus IT environment using innovative approaches such as virtualization and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Prior to becoming CIO, he was responsible for managing IS operations followed by IT application development. Prior to Stratus, Joe held various software engineering positions with Sequoia Systems and Data General.

About CloudTweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading authorities in connected technology information and services.

We embrace and instill thought leadership insights, relevant and timely news related stories, unbiased benchmark reporting as well as offer green/cleantech learning and consultive services around the world.

Our vision is to create awareness and to help find innovative ways to connect our planet in a positive eco-friendly manner.

In the meantime, you may connect with CloudTweaks by following and sharing our resources.

View All Articles

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Three Challenges of Network Deployment in Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Private Cloud

Three Challenges of Network Deployment in Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Private Cloud

Hyperconverged Infrastructure In this article, we’ll explore three challenges that are associated with network deployment in a hyperconverged private cloud environment, and then we’ll consider several methods to overcome those challenges. The Main Challenge: Bring Your Own (Physical) Network Some of the main challenges of deploying a hyperconverged infrastructure software solution in a data center are the diverse physical…

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority Research has revealed that third parties cause 63 percent of all data breaches. From HVAC contractors, to IT consultants, to supply chain analysts and beyond, the threats posed by third parties are real and growing. Deloitte, in its Global Survey 2016 of third party risk, reported…

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but…

7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

Cloud Security Missteps Cloud computing remains shrouded in mystery for the average American. The most common sentiment is, “It’s not secure.” Few realize how many cloud applications they access every day: Facebook, Gmail, Uber, Evernote, Venmo, and the list goes on and on… People flock to cloud services for convenient solutions to everyday tasks. They…

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data The modern enterprise is digital. It relies on accurate and timely data to support the information and process needs of its workforce and its customers. However, data suffers from a likability crisis. It’s as essential to us as oxygen, but because we don’t see it, we take it for granted.…