The Cloud has been touted as the answer to all of your business problems. From file backup, to hosted software and everything in between, the Cloud has a tool for every business need.
But what most IT companies fail to tell their customers is that Cloud systems are not invulnerable – outages can, and do, occur occasionally. And the reality is that these outages do have an impact on your business.
Nothing is infallible
The problem is that Cloud systems are actually so reliable that when something does go wrong, the effects are always more keenly felt. A good analogy would be the UK mobile phone network – in general everything works brilliantly, but occasionally you move into an area of patchy coverage and suddenly calls drop, texts fail to send and you're stuck.
We all know that patchy mobile coverage is still a problem in some corners of the UK, but it is always a shock to actually encounter one. And so it is with Cloud computing systems – even the biggest players like Amazon, Google and Microsoft have occasional issues that result in slight disruption.
Should the Cloud be avoided?
In fact, there is a very, very good chance that Cloud outages are far less common than those experienced by small businesses using an in-house server. Between 2007 and 2013, Google Apps experienced a total of 59.31 hours downtime. Initially that sounds like quite a lot, but when you break the figures down, it actually equates to:
- 9.88 hours per year – just over one working day.
- 0.8 hours per month.
- 0.19 hours per week.
- 0.02 hours per day – 1.2 minutes – a total service uptime of 99.661%.
The average daily downtime would be less than it takes to reboot your desktop PC. One study found that Dutch employees were losing 4.5 minutes every hour to IT issues – far more than they would to “the Cloud”.
The ultimate IT team
For small businesses it makes no financial sense to employ a dedicated team to manage an in-house server. But when a server problem does occur, it invariably takes longer to resolve as a third party support provider must arrange a site visit to troubleshoot and fix errors.
With Cloud services, a dedicated team of engineers proactively monitors systems to identify and resolve problems before they result in a full system outage. Coupled with enterprise-class systems that are beyond the requirements and budget of small businesses, and it becomes clear why Google et al experience less downtime than the average small business managing their own systems in-house.
So yes, the Cloud experiences outages just like every other IT system ever invented. But the reality is that these outages are less severe, long-lived or costly than those caused by failure of local servers.