Cloud Computing, “Wild West” IT and What You Can Learn

Cloud Computing, “Wild West” IT and What You Can Learn

Companies that have implemented cloud environments have been riding the wave of a revolutionary way of doing business. Allowing staff to access your network at all times helps streamline business, increases staff mobility and makes everyday tasks easier than ever before. Sounds like a no-brainer, slam-dunk option for modern day companies right? Well, unfortunately there can still be issues with cloud networks.

The grass really is greener on the side of the fence with cloud computing, but there’s still going to be some patches of crab grass every once in a while. With cloud networks, we have to face the facts that outages occur, maintenance will be required and that no network can boast 100% connectivity ALL the time.

With cloud adoption comes a heavy reliance on the integrity of the connectivity, so what happens when that fails? As a reminder, let’s look at a headline-inducing outage you might remember or even were affected by yourself.

From InfoWorld:

Colossal cloud outage No. 3: Gmail fail

A rash of irksome outages, the most recent of which had 150,000 Gmail users signing into their accounts only to find blank slates -- no emails, no folders, nothing that indicated they were actually looking at their own inboxes. To Google's credit, it provided regular updates and promised a quick fix. But repairs took as long as four days for some of the affected users.

Google ended up having to turn to actual physical tape backups in order to restore the data. Ultimately, the company's multilayered data protection did work, but not without leaving thousands of users locked out of their email for days.

Is that a reason to run, arms flailing, away from anything cloud-connected? Probably not. But it is a reason to look carefully at your own data safeguards and think about setting up a backup or offline-access solution now, before an urgent need arises.

So how much downtime is to be expected with a cloud network?

Your SLA & Cloud Outage Preparation

Most any legitimate managed IT vendors will present a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to a client before any money is exchanged or services performed. These are designed to answer common questions clients will have, such as what happens in the event of a network crash and who is responsible for taking action during these times.

If your SLA promises 99.9% average up time, that sounds great on paper but can it really be accurate? Take for example this passage from Talkin’ Cloud regarding Oracle’s Cloud Enterprise Hosting and Delivery Policy:

Though not technically a service level agreement, Oracle's Cloud Enterprise Hosting and Delivery Policies website may have some alarming news for customers who host workloads within its cloud service. Barb Darrow of Fortune has found that Oracle's cloud service has scheduled maintenance for about 10 hours every month which could result in downtime for some users.

Ten hours a month might not be a big deal depending on the size of your company, but it also might be a big deal if for 10 billable hours during the month your staff can’t access the data they need. The truth of the issue is that maintenance on networks is completely necessary and occurs at the benefit of the users. The point is if you don’t understand what is stated in the SLA, you could be signing up for a service that’s not going to fit the needs of the business.

Steps To Take Right Now

It’s OK to employ a healthy bit of skepticism when it comes to outsourcing the implementation and management of a cloud network for your business. You want to feel a level of trust, but also should feel assured that in the event of a catastrophic outage you won’t be playing the “blame game” with your IT services provider.

Leon Adato from Enterprise Tech had this helpful piece of advice for business managers as we make our way further into the “Wild West” of hybrid IT services:

Know Your Networks and Accept Responsibility – You should keep an inventory of your networks; know where your devices are and what they’re doing. You should acknowledge you have services going out to cloud-based applications, and that these services are just as much your responsibility as they are the application team’s. This also means knowing, or knowing how to find out, what the patterns of your network usage are day by day, hour by hour, and at different points in the month. Basically, it means treating monitoring — the regular, consistent, ongoing collection of data from devices — as its own discipline and not just “the thing that creates all those tickets” or an item on your to-do list.


How We Approach Cloud Integration

Speaking of the Wild West, we’ve been gun slingin’ IT services for over 20 years now, and in that time we’ve been confronted with just about every issue you can imagine. With cloud integration we make sure you understand exactly what is in your Service Level Agreement, exactly what price these services will cost, and exactly who will be there to bring things back in case of emergency. Check out the Continuous website and learn more about how we can help you get ahead of the competition without the hassle of technology management.