If you’re running a small business, one of the biggest benefits of using the cloud is that it saves you on the pain of looking after your own infrastructure. And, if you’re delivering an online service like an ecommerce website or a SaaS solution, that’s a serious selling point – after all, your business depends on factors like performance and uptime, which can be resource-intensive to optimise in-house.
But that’s not to say cloud hosting can’t let you down. Much as you might prefer to ignore the problem, and no matter how big your provider or how many nines in your SLA, no cloud is fully immune to downtime.
Consider the 2017 AWS outage, for example, which knocked offline the likes of NetFlix, Salesforce and Adobe – all companies that depend on Amazon’s cloud to deliver their core services. And this isn’t a fly-by-night outfit we’re talking about – AWS is the biggest cloud provider on the planet.
So how can you ensure your cloud hosting service delivers the right level of protection for your business? Outside of brand reputation and SLAs, here are a few of the factors you may want to think about.
1. Where will your cloud live?
It can be tempting to think “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to cloud hosting. In reality, there are a number of reasons to care about where your cloud lives. They include security and compliance, latency, and – yes – resilience.
While the industry is gradually improving, many bigger cloud providers – and some smaller ones as well – tend to be opaque about where their data centres are. Knowing the locations of your provider’s primary and secondary sites, as well as the connectivity between them, will help you assess any environmental risk factors for downtime, as well as the level of performance you can expect from their service.
2. What protection will your data centre offer?
You should also consider the technical specifications of your cloud providers’ data centre, and whether the facility offers ample protection against disruption and downtime. For starters, look at UPS redundancy (N+1 is good, N+N is better and 2(N+N) is better still), power and cooling, and environmental monitoring, as well as quality control and maintenance.
And, if your provider owns the data centre, so much the better – all of these attributes will be directly under its influence, limiting your exposure to potentially unknown third parties and suppliers.
3. Can your cloud hosting service scale?
For a digital business, poor performance can be just as bad as downtime. Think about how apps and websites can sometimes slow to a halt when traffic spikes (ecommerce during flash sales is a common offender). As such, it’s important to ensure your cloud hosting service offers the right level of scalability for your business, and that your provider can advise on whether a pay-as-you-go or reservation pricing model is most suitable.
4. What level of support can you expect?
Finally, it’s important to feel out your cloud provider for an idea of the support they offer, both in terms of ease of access and quality. Ideally, you’ll want a support team who are technically competent, but also understand your commercial needs when it comes to performance and uptime. That way, if there’s ever a problem, they’ll be able to advise on the best course of action to keep your business ticking over and your customers happy.