Last month, Microsoft’s Azure Storage cloud offering suffered what Forbes called a “catastrophic outage” that affected customers worldwide. Reports after the fact revealed that the 11-hour service interruption was caused by a glitch in a performance update.
The exact cause, according to Microsoft CVP Jason Zander, was “an issue that resulted in storage blob front ends going into an infinite loop… [resulting in] an inability for the front ends to take on further traffic, which in turn caused other services built on top to experience issues.” Now, most of us couldn’t tell one storage blob front end from the next — if you’re an Azure user, all you cared about was the fact that your cloud storage service went down for an entire workday.
Such interruptions can be common in the brave new cloud-computing world. But that doesn’t mean they should be expected (or accepted) — especially if your business relies on the cloud to perform critical day-to-day duties.
As IT professionals serving the small to medium-sized business market, we recommend caution when it comes to diving into the cloud, especially in light of things like last week’s Microsoft Azure outage. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Hybrid solutions might make the most sense. Many businesses that have adopted the cloud still rely on a mix of remote and local infrastructure that makes access to the information you need seamless, whether you’re on a PC, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
- In some cases, the cloud can help you save money. In the software realm, cloud offerings, or Software as a Service (SaaS), can have the most immediate impact on a business. Need to run expensive packages like Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite? Instead of paying hefty up-front costs, being stuck with only a few licenses, and losing valuable time to the lengthy installation and update process, services like Office 365 and Creative Cloud can afford you increased levels of productivity by providing up to five licenses for separate devices. SaaS can also potentially lower your monthly or annual costs.
- Fully utilizing the cloud might require an increase in bandwidth, which could increase costs. In some areas, standard Internet connections might not be equipped to handle the bi-directional traffic required to take full advantage of cloud solutions. If a significant upgrade is in order, the economics of migrating to the cloud might not make sense for your company.
- Leave your day-to-day IT worries and security of data and systems to a professional. If you do decide to explore cloud options, make sure you work with a competent, trustworthy IT service provider that is committed to the security of your information and providing you with end-to-end support.
Cloud services deployed in a secure and integrated way by trusted IT professionals can deliver more mobility, faster scalability, heightened security, and a better return on investment to your company. We know the cloud inside and out, we test and vet the solutions we provide, and we strive to understand your specific needs. Let us take care of the details so that you can focus on growing your business and providing better service to your clients — not worrying about the ins and outs of IT.