By Lorcan Cunningham, MD, Savenet Solutions
October 29, 2012

SaveNet Online Data Backup Expert Tips: Amazon Outage Demonstrates the Need for Backup of Cloud Services

It’s all over the news today, the outage at Amazon Web Services has taken down some very popular web services and no doubt a bunch of niche or smaller service offerings you’ve never heard of. According to Cnet Netflix, Reddit, Airbnb, Heroku, FastCompany, Flipboard and many other big networks such as Minecraft are affected.

The really big question here is how can this be avoided at a network level and on a user level.

On a network level there isn’t really much excuse for not having your service replicated with another provider and DNS failover for when problems occur with your live environment. If you are a service provider this really ought to be cloud computing 101. Single point of failure whether that is at a provider or a box level is simply too large a business risk. Redundancy may have a cost, but it is key to disaster recovery and business continuity for a service provider. To be fair to Amazon they do acknowledge this and make recommendations to clients regarding techniques to ensure redundancy and continuity. In this case, it is the service providers like Netflix that have failed to mitigate the risks.

Also, on a network level is it worthwhile suggesting to cloud service providers that providing a secondary data backup API or integrated facility? While this won’t be useful for Netflix or Reddit users, it would certainly give security and peace of mind to users of enterprise services who may have time critical data stored in CRM or other cloud enterprise systems.

On a user level, if you are using a cloud service for storing business data, it’s a good idea to ensure that your particular service has a secondary backup option or that you backup your data independently to a secondary service. That way, in the case of an outage you can still access your data in some format. If a phone call needs to be made today then getting contact information can’t be delayed on a service providers repair schedule.

Cloud computing is massively beneficial, but sensible business continuity and disaster recovery plans inevitably require backup and redundancy on the part of the infrastructure provider, the service provider and the enterprise client.

This particular issue may be a good thing if it leads to some lessons being learned for those using and providing cloud based services.

About the Author: Lorcan Cunningham is a Managing Director at SaveNet Solutions, an Asigra powered cloud online data backup and disaster recovery company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

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