With rapid digitalization comes great responsibility: to not expect cloud infallibility but to ensure redundancy for business continuity.

In December last year, many consumers suddenly found themselves unable to watch their favorite shows on popular streaming networks, and unable to purchase goods from one e-commerce giant.

The affected services, hosted on AWS, were likely out due to API issues—the set of protocols for building and integrating application software.  

Although the outage was short-lived, this has highlighted a key concern with cloud computing. As companies and businesses worldwide increasingly turn to cloud infrastructure for their computing needs, for anything from virtual desktops, online applications to data storage, it could be a real business continuity nightmare for them if their cloud provider goes down.

The Cloud is not infallible

As the recent global outage shows, the Cloud can go down.

Big service providers may have high uptimes, but data stored on those services is just as vulnerable to being hacked or attacked by ransomware as it is if a business kept everything in house. 

Cloud-only backup is also risky because a business cannot control the bandwidth; restores are often difficult and time-consuming.

This is where a hybrid-cloud solution becomes invaluable. In essence, you are getting the best of both on-premises and cloud backups, one covering for the other. With a hybrid system, your data is first copied and stored on a local backup. If something goes down, you can do a fast and easy restore.

In addition, your data is also replicated in the cloud. That way, if anything happens to the local copy, you will have off-site cloud copies of your data without having to worry about moving it off-site physically by old-fashioned means like a tape backup.

Backup is just one component of business continuity

Business continuity is all about approaching disaster recovery at a higher level, asking the question of how the organization can get up and running again in the event of a total system failure.

Again, this is where a hybrid plan comes into effect. If your local server dies, you rely on the cloud. If the cloud goes down for any reason, you can rely on the local servers to keep the business running. 

When talking about business continuity, two metrics need consideration: Recovery Time Objective (RTO); and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). 

The RTO is the duration of time a business needs after a disruption to avoid unacceptable consequences. RPO, on the other hand, is the maximum tolerable period in which data may get lost because of a disaster. By calculating your desired RTO, you have determined the maximum time that you can be without your data before your business is at risk.

Alternatively, by specifying the RPO, you know how often you need to perform backups. You may have an RTO of a day, and an RPO of an hour depending on what your business requires. But calculating these numbers will help you understand what type of data backup solution you need.

It is also critical to have an image-based backup, which is when an image of your data, including OS, configuration, and settings, are all captured in their working environment. This way, you can restore faster if your cloud environment goes down. A hybrid cloud solution can help businesses, big and small, have the best of both worlds and allow things to run even if there is an outage.

Outages are unavoidable, but if businesses opt for the various redundancy options—such as a hybrid approach—they can reduce the risk of business downtimes and minimize losses to the business.

Planning for continuity and recovery must and should start right now.