Cloud blog part one – Cloud downtime: How long is too long?

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Some people think of “the cloud” as the Holy Grail for business software. The advantages of cloud services include outsourcing your IT infrastructure to experts and having unlimited access to applications wherever there is an Internet or wide-area network connection.

Moving applications to the cloud allows companies to focus on adding value through their own products and services, rather than wasting time worrying about their IT infrastructure.

 

The cloud is no longer considered ‘vapourware’ – it is real, but at the same time, it is not yet a monolithic infrastructure that can be applied to every application. Many of our customers here at Pronto are using different cloud arrangements to maximise their IT efficiency. These range from simple hosting, through remote administration, to implementing a pure cloud model – that is, renting the required software application for a monthly fee and accessing it over the Internet.

When the cloud goes down
The most obvious danger for cloud-based applications is that they depend on multiple layers of technology, software and infrastructure. The availability of your cloud application may rely on a number of companies, including a developer, hosting company, Internet provider and communications network.

Failure at any point in the cloud infrastructure stack could potentially stop you accessing your applications and have a negative impact on your business.

Your cloud vendor may guarantee 99.9 percent uptime or something similar, but this number doesn’t mean anything if that 0.1 percent prevents you meeting your customer service requirements. I would potentially be happy with less uptime for non-critical tasks that can wait a day or so; but for business-critical applications, I want 100%.

Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate the point:

  • If you generate revenue through checkouts, internet sales or call centre orders, is your business ready to turn back customers if your system goes down for an hour?
  • If your warehouse or manufacturing management application goes offline, how much will it cost to pay your warehouse or factory staff to wait around doing nothing and to compensate for late deliveries?
  • In a customer service environment, it is not unusual to have contractual service agreements, guaranteeing a response to customer calls in a set time. Without access to your customer management application, will you be able to fulfil these commitments?
  • Potential downtime of 0.1 percent may sound like nothing, but 8.76 per year hours without access to your systems could lose your business hundreds of thousands of dollars and permanently damage customer relationships.

Of course, I’m not saying all cloud services are unreliable, but as you will see in part two, in many situations it is essential you put strategies in place to ensure continuity of service.

Paul Goepfert
Marketing Manager, Pronto Software

Paul Goepfert

Paul Goepfert

Paul Goepfert is the Marketing Manager for ERP vendor Pronto Software. @PaulGoepfert

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