New findings from a study by Veritas Technologies, indicate that an alarming majority (77%) of UK respondents have not fully evaluated the cost of a cloud outage to their business and are therefore ill prepared to deal with the impact of an outage.
While cloud service providers offer infrastructure-based service level objectives, the research indicates that many UK organisations fail to understand their own responsibility, in addition to that of the cloud service providers’, in ensuring that their critical business applications are adequately protected in the event of an outage.
Understanding cloud outages
The Truth in Cloud study, commissioned by Veritas and conducted by Vanson Bourne, surveyed 1200 global business and IT decision makers. It revealed that almost all (96%) of IT decision makers reported that their organisations will move systems to the cloud in the next 12 to 24 months.
While migration to the cloud continues to accelerate, it is imperative that customers understand how an outage could impact their business. More than one in three respondents (38%) expect less than 15 minutes of downtime per month but the reality is that respondents’ organisations are experiencing an average of 16 minutes of downtime per month.
Who is responsible in the event of a cloud outage?
Two thirds (66%) of the respondents believe that dealing with cloud service interruptions is the primary responsibility of the cloud service provider. 76% of respondents also believe that their organisation’s cloud service provider is responsible for ensuring that their workloads and data in the cloud are protected against outages.
While cloud service providers have service level agreements in place, these are typically for the infrastructure layer and they hold the responsibility for restoring their infrastructure in the event of a cloud outage.
However, there are other key considerations customers should keep in mind that go beyond the actual infrastructure-level outage, such as bringing their applications back online, once the infrastructure is back online.
Depending on the complexity of application inter-dependencies during restart and the amount of data lost during the outage, the actual time of application recovery may be far longer than the time of infrastructure recovery. An organisation may alternately decide to be more proactive and failover applications back to their on-premises data centre or to another cloud. This would be the primary responsibility of the organisation, not the cloud service provider.
“Organisations are clearly lacking in understanding the anatomy of a cloud outage and that recovery is a joint responsibility between the cloud service provider and the business,” said Mike Palmer, executive vice president and chief product officer, Veritas. “Immediate recovery from a cloud outage is absolutely within an organisation’s control and responsibility to perform if they take a proactive stance to application uptime in the cloud. Getting this right means less downtime, financial impact, loss of customers’ trust and damage to brand reputation.”
Maximising the benefits of the cloud while minimising the risks
Not knowing the full extent of how a cloud outage could potentially impact business is a risk very few organisations can afford to take. But, the risks can be severely mitigated with the right business resiliency strategies in place to reap the benefits of embracing a multi-cloud world.