The Pragmatic Approach To Public Cloud

Public cloud

DCN takes a look at some recent high profile cloud outages and gauges the opinions of three industry experts from Nexsan, Tintri and Zerto.

For many, public cloud is an easy, effective and cost conscious way of integrating cloud into IT practices and until recently it seemed pretty fool proof. Sure, there have been individual companies that have experienced issues that caused outages because of mis-managed cloud instances, but on the whole, the large companies who curate the public cloud have been untroubled. Until now.

Recently, both AWS and Microsoft Azure have experienced lengthy outages due to issues with the storage supporting the cloud. These outages have permeated through companies globally and brought into focus the potential downsides of a heavy commitment to public cloud. After both of these incidents, the question many are asking is, how reliable is the public cloud?, and what options and alternatives are available?

Private cloud – less risk, same reward

As an option to combat downtime that is out of the control of a company’s IT team, on-premises private cloud solutions offer many of the same benefits as public cloud, according to Victoria Grey, CMO, Nexsan.

Victoria says: “Two weeks ago, the turmoil caused by the AWS S3 outage highlighted just how vital reliable data access is. Now we are seeing difficulties with Microsoft Azure’s public cloud platform. Although Microsoft has been able to resolve this, it brings to light an underlining issue with the public cloud. Any amount of downtime costs businesses time, money and reputation, but this can be easily managed if data is kept within the organisations’ own IT infrastructure. With the failings of AWS and Microsoft it is clear that the public cloud does not offer the availability or security businesses require. With on-premises private cloud solutions available organisations can mitigate these risks.”

Multi-cloud strategy – the best of both worlds

For some companies, giving up the benefits of the public cloud is not an option. However, implementing a multi-cloud strategy that combines both on-premises enterprise cloud and public cloud could protect mission critical data and applications.

“The Azure service disruption once again showed that even Tier 1 public cloud services are not immune to power outages and command line typos. Public cloud has come a long way, however, it is not a fit for all workloads, as some may be better suited to on-premises enterprise cloud. If nothing else, the recent Azure and S3 issues will cause some businesses to reconsider a multi-cloud strategy including on-premises enterprise cloud to reduce their risks,” says David Griffiths, VP of EMEA, Tintri.

Always, always have a disaster recovery plan

Whatever strategy you opt to put in place, public, private or hybrid cloud, there is no way to guarantee that it is impenetrable. So, it is a must in IT in general, but especially as the dependency on cloud increases, to have a plan in place should service interruptions happen.

Jennifer Gill, director, global product marketing at Zerto, says: “Recently, an S3 outage took AWS offline impacting millions of customers. Then, seemingly impenetrable behemoth player Microsoft had to announce storage issues were impacting its Azure public cloud. Although Microsoft was able to quickly, well within eight hours, resolve the issue, the headline making outages of both Azure and AWS reaffirm the fact that the public cloud is, in fact, still vulnerable.

“IT professionals need to protect their organisations should something like this happen again. ‘IT resilience’, the ability to respond to an IT disruption so quickly that end users and customers are not aware it occurred is crucial. This is possible through a combination of efforts including leveraging replication to multiple targets, both on-premises and cloud, to create a hybrid cloud environment where infrastructure ‘eggs’ are not all in ‘one basket.’

“Implementing these precautionary measures ensures that outages on one platform are mitigated and no company can be taken down due to its reliance on a single public cloud alone.”

There is no doubt that the rise of public cloud brings with it many benefits, but the recent downtime of AWS and Azure proves that it is not invincible. When evaluating how to implement a cloud strategy, be advised, explore private cloud, a multi-cloud strategy and always have a mitigation and recovery plan in place in case of any outage. The cloud is not one size fits all, so find the right fit for your company.