Why Cloud Availability Matters in a Crisis

By: Blair Felter on April 21, 2020

As the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak continues to send shockwaves through the global economy, network systems are under increased pressure to deliver high availability services to an increasingly remote workforce. For cloud providers, the experience is proving to be a test of their infrastructure and their network engineering. With more people than ever relying on cloud services in a time of crisis, failing to meet uptime demands could prove devastating to many companies.

What is Considered High Availability?

A high cloud computing availability ensures that critical data and applications will be available under the vast majority of circumstances. One of the fears about migrating to a cloud computing service in the early days of the technology was the reliability of the platform. Organizations understood that some level of system downtime, during which data and applications can’t be accessed, was to be expected with any IT infrastructure. While their on-premises infrastructure wasn’t all that more reliable than the cloud (and often it was far worse, due largely to inefficient deployments), most IT departments were hesitant about giving up the visibility and control for a modest gain in convenience and uptime.

That decision might have made sense in the far less connected world of 2010, but it’s untenable for organizations operating in the high-information world of 2020. The proliferation of smartphones, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and “as-a-service” software applications means that today’s companies are more dependent upon their network infrastructure than ever before. Not only do they need to be able to access data and mission-critical applications at all times, but their customers are often using the same network to consume goods and services.

Hosting data and applications in a high availability cloud environment can help organizations ensure that their essential services will be online and accessible when they’re needed. Most of the leading cloud platforms guarantee a certain level of uptime reliability under their service level agreements (SLAs):

Why Does Cloud Availability Matter in a Crisis?

Not every organization may think about uptime reliability under most circumstances, but considering that 99.99% cloud availability amounts to roughly four minutes of downtime every month in the best of circumstances, it’s worth considering how well a cloud provider’s availability will hold up in a crisis. Those are the moments when having a reliable and secure IT infrastructure matters most. While certain industries, such as healthcare and public services, need to know that their systems will stay up and running in the midst of a crisis, a prolonged period of downtime can have catastrophic impacts on any business.

An unexpected data disaster is difficult enough for a large enterprise to cope with, but it could cause irreversible damage for a small to medium-sized business. That’s because every moment of downtime results in lost productivity, missed opportunities, and diminished reputation. While the potential revenue loss is harmful enough, the greater long-term risk is often due to customers losing faith in the company. If people lose that trust and confidence, an organization will find it almost impossible to win back customers even after the immediate crisis has passed.

Companies that rely entirely upon cloud computing platforms to support their data and applications are particularly exposed to greater risks if that cloud provider hasn’t done everything possible to provide a reliable infrastructure for those assets.

How to Achieve High Availability

Cloud providers looking to provide high availability services to their customers can ensure their customers are protected during a crisis by building their platform within a highly stable, secure, and redundant environment. If a provider simply manages its services through virtual machines hosted by another cloud computing service, it will ultimately be tied to that provider’s SLA uptime. Unfortunately, not every software-as-a-service (SaaS) company has the resources to build and manage its own private data center to meet their uptime needs. Building these facilities is a massive capital investment that also places an artificial constraint upon growth. If the company needs to expand in the future, it will only be able to scale as far as its existing infrastructure. That might not be as much of a problem for multi-billion dollar enterprises like Amazon or Google, but most companies lack the resources to build one such facility, much less expand it or add another within a few years.

Colocation data centers present an ideal alternative for SaaS companies looking to deliver high cloud availability. These third-party facilities offer multiple layers of redundancy and higher levels of SLA uptime than most cloud computing providers can manage, making them an ideal environment for reliability in cloud computing. They also provide connectivity options that give customers multiple ways of accessing cloud platforms. When a crisis strikes, both SaaS companies and their customers can rest easy knowing that their data and services are more likely to remain available than they would with an average cloud provider.

Colocation data centers also make it easier to put additional business continuity plans in place to ensure continued cloud availability. This could include backing up critical functions across multiple data center locations or even creating completely mirrored, fault-tolerant systems that can manage any failovers seamlessly. Data centers also make it easier for organizations to manage who has access to critical systems, which can help mitigate the risk of human error causing a network outage.

Achieve High Cloud Availability with vXchnge

With multiple locations in key emerging markets across the US, vXchnge data centers are engineered for perfection and backed by 100% uptime SLAs. Featuring full infrastructure redundancy and risk mitigation controls, our facilities are designed to deliver high availability performance for SaaS providers and managed cloud computing services. Our award-winning in\site intelligent monitoring platform provides colocation customers with unprecedented visibility and control when it comes to managing all aspects of their deployment, from power and bandwidth usage all the way down to the physical location of servers.

To learn more about how vXchnge colocation can ensure high cloud availability in the midst of a crisis, talk to one of our colocation experts today.

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