Businesses are generating and storing more data than ever before. Recent figures estimate that the US alone generates an average of 2,657,700 gigabytes of Internet data every minute–and much of that business-critical data is being processed and stored in leading cloud-based services such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud. But what would the impact be on your business if a cloud service that you rely on should fail?
What’s the damage?
According to a new report by insurance market Lloyds of London, if a top cloud provider suffered an extreme cyber-incident that took them offline for three to six days, businesses in the US could lose USD15bn.
This kind of outage may be rare, but they can happen. In early 2017, AWS S3 users were locked out of any business services relying on its cloud-based storage for five hours. Although the outage was short-lived, the impact on services ranging from websites, apps, and even IoT devices such as connected security cameras caused chaos.
According to recent research 90% of organizations now use cloud within their IT infrastructure, and 69% plan to adopt a multi-cloud strategy by 2019. As more businesses shift to the cloud, their potential exposure to the fall-out from a cloud outage will continue to grow. After all, no single server, network, data center, or cloud service can ever be 100% reliable.
Critical outages in the cloud could be caused by a number of factors, from simple human error to connectivity issues and cyber-attacks. But whatever the cause, it’s important for businesses to understand the risks to their reputation and finances so they can mitigate them. So how should you prepare, and what plans and procedures could help you through the disruption an outage in the cloud could cause?
Firstly, the basic step of backing up your data applies in the cloud as it does in physical environments. If you use more than one cloud provider, you can achieve this by backing up valuable data across the services you use, since the chances of multiple providers suffering an outage simultaneously are slim. The most valuable data should also be backed up in your on-premise network.
Secondly, monitoring tools can help you check that your cloud applications are working as they should, and that everything you need is as accessible as you’d expect. Meanwhile, they serve as an early warning system for any emerging performance problems so you can work to reduce the chance of your applications and networks becoming suddenly unavailable.
Next, it’s useful to have clear visibility of your data and applications wherever they may be. Knowing where your data and vulnerabilities lie is important, whether they exist in the cloud or within your on-premise network. Visibility tools can help you maintain good visibility and security.
Finally, choose your cloud provider wisely. Some offer services such as redundancy – which means the cloud provider has data centres in multiple locations so you can distribute your applications and data between them. Some providers also offer high availability for a premium, which enables you to enjoy an always-on service with protection from outages and data loss.
If you keep all of these things in mind, the chances are your cloud data will stay safe, whatever the weather.