This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, ISG Partner Bernie Hoecker explains why you shouldn’t let the fear of a cloud outage keep you up at night.
A cloud outage can devastate a business and cause significant damage to its bottom line. It can also harm customer relationships, which take time and resources to repair.
Recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) outages wreaked havoc across its sprawling ecosystem and took service offline for many popular third-party websites in the busy weeks leading up to the holidays. Not only was it many consumers’ first introduction to the impact the cloud has on their daily lives, but it also was a stark reminder that cloud computing is still in its infancy and businesses need strategies to minimize risk and to rebound when a failure occurs.
As daunting as outages may be, the benefits of the cloud far outweigh the risks. Cloud computing provides a platform for leveraging advanced technologies (such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G and augmented reality). Cloud strategies also enable new business models to drive innovation, speed and positive financial results.
As the role of technology morphs from cost savings to revenue generation, technology adoption will only increase over time, more than offsetting current market challenges. The ISG Index forecasts the global market for cloud-based XaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service and Software-as-a-Service) will grow 20 percent in 2022.
Cloud deployments are complex and involve many different technologies and suppliers, and companies are often wary of the expense and effort involved in a migration. Following these six principles, with expert help as needed, can allay that fear.
Architecting for Failure
Outages and disruptions are unavoidable. Minimizing the risk starts by having a mindset and a strategy that allows you to architect your environment in a way that protects you from failure and accounts for the following architecture facets:
- Software: Implementing open vs. proprietary practices will foster interoperability and lower the risk of vendor lock-in. Implementing cloud-native practices will also build a robust environment that can adapt to multi/hybrid-cloud environments.
- Resilience: Cloud models must be designed so there is not one single point of failure within the deployed model. This is a critical element throughout the cloud design: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
- Disaster recovery (DR): Robust DR plans will meet enterprise objectives as well as regulatory and compliance standards for the relevant industry. Multizone, multi-geo models are readily available and should be a part of a cloud DR strategy.
In many respects, cloud deployments are only as good as the networks on which they are built. Next-generation networks are business enablers and catalysts for digital transformation. They must be designed to improve stability and flexibility and to:
- Increase visibility and control with standardized and harmonized services
- Accelerate deployment cycles and site connectivity
- Employ an overlay/underlay model to maximize control and efficiency
- Leverage the network as OpEx vs. CapEx
- Put customers at the center and improve the user experience
- Meet evolving threats and satisfy regulatory compliance with security controls, encryption and network segmentation
- Access regional and emerging providers and secure internet connectivity
- Stabilize the environment via automated tooling and leading best practices
Multi and Hybrid Cloud
In April 2021, an ISG study of 300 enterprises in the U.S. and Europe found all are leveraging the cloud and that most have multiple cloud instances. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of respondents use a total of two cloud infrastructure vendors and another 33 percent use three or more. Many enterprises deliberately choose multiple clouds to maintain vendor diversity, mitigate risk or access special functionality available only from a specific provider. A multi/hybrid-cloud strategy is imperative for today’s market demands.
The maturity of cloud security platforms has increased dramatically in the past 24 months. Cloud-native tools available from the major hyperscalers – including AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform – provide the basic protections you need, with readily available templates and easily understandable configurations to get started. Enhanced identity and access capabilities provided through third-party solutions – coupled with endpoint, container, DevOps, and OT capabilities – provide holistic protections for hybrid environments. Network Security-as-a-Service (NSaaS) solutions should also be integrated into security plans.
A robust management system with governance sponsored by the CEO and embedded in the C-suite management system will serve as a center point for implementing and maintaining a cloud estate that supports the goals of the entire enterprise.
The fear of cloud outages can be exacerbated by operating in an environment that is not grounded in a solid financial management system. Are you paying too much or too little for your cloud services? Do you have a financial operations (FinOps) model that incorporates all cloud expenses and holds departments accountable for their usage? Have you benchmarked your cloud providers and other companies in your ecosystem? Economics go beyond vendor management of the cloud and affect the overall enterprise. Sound financial practices are mandatory as you travel on the cloud journey.
Fear of cloud outages doesn’t need to cause insomnia. A strategy for building and scaling cloud technology is important, and so is a strategy for managing the cloud when it goes down. Keep these tips at the forefront during the design-and-build stage, and outages will lose their power to strike fear in executives’ hearts.
- Don’t Let the Fear of a Cloud Outage Keep You up at Night - March 1, 2022