Diversifying your cloud approach – alternatives to the public cloud 

Diversifying your cloud approach – alternatives to the public cloud 

Maintaining uptime is a defining factor of business success in today’s rapid digitalisation environment. In light of this, Jon Lucas, Co-founder and Director of Hyve Managed Hosting, discusses the importance of exploring all cloud options available and avoid relying solely on one in case of an outage.

The interconnectedness of our world has led to a growing reliance on cloud technology in modern business. Given that many companies are injecting vast amounts of money into their cloud setups, they expect to be able to access their resources at all times and depend on systems never going down. Businesses often default to a public cloud provider for perceived lack of complexity when it comes to managing resources and room to scale. There is also a sense that with big names such as Amazon, Google, or Microsoft, they’re safe from outages.

The truth about cloud outages

In reality, as cloud becomes more ubiquitous, public cloud outages have equally become almost an inevitable part of cloud operations.

The Microsoft outage cyber incident a few months ago, in which a range of Microsoft services such as Outlook were taken offline, highlights the dangers of relying on a single public cloud provider. Millions of Microsoft Azure customers were affected around the globe without discrimination – large enterprises were impacted right along with smaller businesses. For example, the US Commerce Secretary and several US State Department officials were just some of the organisations affected.

Microsoft has experienced a number of outages this year alone, such as a massive cloud outage in January which affected 15 million corporate customers and over 500 million active users, leaving them with no access to Teams and Outlook.

All this to say that cloud outages do happen – and opting for a public cloud provider because of the brand familiarity might not provide the peace of mind organisations are seeking.

What’s more, the effects of an outage are not insignificant. The general estimate for costs associated with downtime amount to US$5,600 per minute and closer to US$9,000 per minute for larger businesses.

How to minimise the risk of a cloud outage

While these costs can be detrimental for a business, there are steps IT decision-makers can take to minimise the risk of downtime. These steps include recognising the challenges of the public cloud, understanding the alternative options available and finally, adopting a diversified cloud approach that suits your business and its individual goals. 

When choosing a cloud provider, it’s easy for a business to sign a contract with a hyperscaler and hope cloud workloads run effectively on their own from there. However, it’s important to recognise that relying on just one cloud provider increases companies’ vulnerability to outages and exacerbates their effects. If that one provider’s services go down, your entire business can grind to a halt.

What’s more, in the situation of an outage with a public cloud provider, rectifying the issue isn’t a quick fix. As a result of the size and structure of the public cloud hyperscalers, companies can often face significant wait times and must speak to multiple layers of customer service staff before gaining access to a software engineer who can aim to solve their problem. And as we know, every second counts in an outage. Outages can lead to prolonged downtime, disrupted business operations and compromised customer experiences, which can tarnish a company’s reputation, even if the blame lies with the cloud provider.  

For this reason, IT decision-makers need to think about exploring all the cloud options available to them and make sure they don’t blindly put all their eggs in one basket. This is the best way to ensure uptime of critical applications and cost savings, as well as maintaining excellent customer relationships.  

Diversifying your cloud approach 

In order to optimise their IT infrastructure and ensure control over and uptime of their cloud resources, companies should invest time in researching the most suitable cloud approach for their individual business needs.

For many – particularly those who want to use the cloud to save costs and help them remain agile without dedicating a large IT team to managing it – a Managed Service Provider (MSP) who understands how to tailor hybrid- and multi-cloud solutions to these business needs while guaranteeing uptime might be a good option.

A vendor-agnostic MSP can help define a cloud strategy that allows companies to select the right cloud environments for different workloads, enhancing their overall IT operations and mitigating the effects of downtime. This also mitigates the risk of vendor lock-in, which can occur when a business becomes overly reliant on a single cloud provider, specifically the public cloud, due to compatibility constraints and migration complexities, as well as offering the end-user total control over resources and much faster customer support times, should something happen.

The right cloud combination for you

Cloud adoption is only going to continue – but the different cloud environments that organisations are considering are becoming more varied. While public cloud outages are inevitable and can have a devastating impact, which is why businesses have to find ways to mitigate the effects, it might nevertheless be useful for certain organisations to host some non-critical applications in the public cloud.

Meanwhile, IT managers need to consider running critical applications in secure, private cloud environments, where resources are dedicated to a single organisation and, if managed by the right provider, accompanied by dedicated customer support that also helps to guarantee uptime.

Ultimately, businesses use the cloud because of the flexibility, scalability and agility is offers them. Diversifying their approach and finding the cloud combination that works best for them will allow organisations to unlock its true benefits.

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