How to Prevent Cloud Outages And Maintain Productivity

Grace Lau -
cloud outages
Illustration: © IoT For All

During 2020, cloud-powered services and contact center systems rose to the occasion, positioning themselves as an integral part of our new reality. In the past year, the cloud has not only allowed innovative digital companies to carry on doing business but helped many traditional companies – across multiple industries – to avoid the disastrous consequences of a total work stoppage. But these cloud-powered technologies are not infallible, and cloud outages can have catastrophic consequences for a company’s productivity.

Cloud-powered tools like online scheduling, for example, have been essential in the catering sector, allowing restaurants and bars to reopen, take bookings in advance, and adapt the industry to socially distanced dining with limited capacity venues. However, according to a survey conducted by Statista, a quarter of digital companies experienced losses of between 300,000 and 400,000 US dollars due to outages in 2019. Additionally, 15% of companies affected lost over five million dollars. These numbers are scary to look at, but the truth is that you can avoid falling victim to cloud outages by simply following these five tips.

5 Ways to Prevent Cloud Outages and Maintain Productivity

Adopt a Multi-Cloud Approach

If you’re determined to implement the best cloud for your business, you should have the same goals you aim for when you look for productivity software: choosing the best tools for your team. But what is the best option for your business?

Although each company will have a different set of needs and preferences, a redundant or multi-cloud approach is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cloud outages. If you embrace a multi-cloud approach, you can avoid issues like a single point of failure.

A single point of failure takes place when a non-redundant system suffers an isolated failure that can bring down the entire system. By spreading your workload, communication channels, and data storage across multiple cloud locations – i.e. adding redundancy to the mix – you can avoid this fatal domino effect. As you can see, a redundant, or multi-cloud approach, uses the same principles as other network security and fail-proof techniques, such as IoT network segmentation. It works to reduce risks by spreading your assets across multiple networks or clouds. 

It may be an oversimplification, but putting your eggs in multiple baskets will mitigate the risks of losing all your eggs if you drop one of them. If you want to jump on the cloud bandwagon and are considering enterprise cloud migration, a redundant multi-cloud approach is the way to go.

Play Close Attention to Internet Traffic

More often than not, website slowness, service crashes, and internal cloud outages are caused by unexpected peaks of traffic and server overload. These rapid surges of traffic can affect your cloud’s availability. The first step to avoid website crashes due to high traffic is to run traceroutes to identify the source of the problem. This way, you can determine whether the issue has been caused by your cloud hosting or an internal system failure. If the problem is indeed caused by the internet, you can reroute traffic and improve your site’s performance.

This is especially important for cloud-hosted services with high traffic, such as order management solutions, which are forced to handle a lot of traffic when hosting hundreds of users and webinar attendees during very specific hours and times. Whether you run an eCommerce platform or a cloud-hosted enterprise (software as a service) company, your top priority should be having a reliable cloud, since offering a fail-proof service is the first step toward customer retention. In the digital era, nobody will pay for a service that crashes every other day.

Test for Failures

Sometimes the best way to combat cloud outage issues is actually to cause them, learn how they work, and understand their consequences. This is especially true if your entire business digital operation depends on cloud-based services. 

Many companies use the cloud to do more than data storage, such as implemented cloud computing in RPA (robotic process automation), or video conferencing software solutions and reducing customer churn. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many team supervisors and staff members forced to work from home, cloud-powered communication systems have rapidly positioned themselves as key cloud features for remote teams. 

For this reason, testing your cloud provider for any possible outages is more important than ever. Additionally, if you work in the DevOps industry, for example, your collaboration tools are likely powered by the cloud. This can ensure teamwork culture, secure life sharing, and live notifications. If that is indeed the case, you should consider testing your collaborative software development systems to fully understand how cloud outages could affect your business.

Hire Some In-House Experts

Sometimes, the only way to have a robust cloud is to make sure you have the most knowledgeable experts in your workforce. Although it’s true that many digital businesses hire IT experts, some companies are not willing to make room in their budgets to add new team members to their workforce.

This is a mistake. The best way to put cloud security at the front and center of your company is to have some experts in multi-cloud monitoring on your payroll. These workers bring many upsides to the table. Not only are they able to help you manage possible outages, but they can also help you prevent any issues and mitigate the risks that come with a cloud-based service.

Have a Contingency Plan

Last but not least, let’s see how to tackle a worst-case scenario and potential crashes, and what you should do if a cloud outage does happen. Although we’ve discussed how to prevent these issues, sometimes accidents are inevitable, and cloud disasters end up taking place. In the unlucky case of a total cloud stoppage, it’s vital to be ready, assess the situation, and react accordingly.

First, it’s important to have a secure backup of all essential and sensitive data to avoid losing vital intel. Additionally, if your entire business operation runs on a cloud-powered system, you should have some other software solution to fall back on. Otherwise, a cloud outage could leave your team uncommunicative and powerless.

Although many smaller companies that are forced to rely on more modest small business systems may feel like the ROI for a backup plan is low, the truth is that having a contingency plan and spare software program to use during these times could mean the difference between a minor bump in the road and a major disaster.

If this is the case, and you don’t think your budget is big enough to make room for an expensive contingency plan, consider scouting the market for free online conference software solutions or other business communications tools. These will allow your remote workforce to carry on with their duties while maintaining some sense of normalcy. Many free apps include essential features like safe video conferencing, screen sharing, and file sharing. Although not as robust as premium services, they could save your company’s communication during an emergency.

Remember those redundant systems we mentioned earlier? Well, here is where they show how essential they are. Any disaster recovery plan is based on having multiple cloud services so in the case of a cloud outage, the service can be run on separate networks.

The Takeaway

As we’ve seen, turning your cloud into a fail-proof fortress – and being ready for any possible complications in your business systems – is not as easy as we’d like it to be. For that reason, it’s a good idea that we recapitulate. Let’s go over everything we’ve learned so far:

  • Multi-cloud and redundant systems can help you reduce single points of failure and turn your frail house of cards into a secure and strategic network.
  • Traffic can cause cloud outages. The best way to fight it is to understand this and work out how best to manage it.
  • It’s important to test your cloud and understand what causes outages, how to prevent them, and how to react during potential issues.
  • You should make sure you have the right minds in your workforce. The best way to prevent cloud outages is to have experts in your team.
  • Be ready for any issues. If the worst-case scenario happens, you must have a backup plan to carry on doing business as usual.

We won’t be able to prevent every cloud outage, but taking these five steps and implementing all the available precautions will keep your business one step ahead at all times.

Author
Grace Lau - Director of Growth Content, Dialpad

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Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...