Understanding The Risks Associated With Cloud Services

These days, businesses, irrespective of their type or size, are using cloud services to simplify their resource management and reduce operational expenses. Cloud is not the replacement for hosting but offers broad collection of services under three categories IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). While some businesses use cloud for hosting purpose, others deploy website applications in cloud for their end users need. Depending on the requirement and budget businesses choose whether to go for multiple cloud services or stay with one option. In general, cloud service providers manage and monitor most of the key aspects of hardware and software systems. Unfortunately when outages happen, businesses will have less control on the situations. They have no other choice but to wait for the service providers to resolve these issues. While moving to cloud is beneficial in many aspects, there are also certain drawbacks associated with it.

Cloud Is Not Immune To Downtime Issues

Just like with other services, cloud can have unplanned downtime issues and affect business bottom line when things go wrong for any reason. Even the biggest cloud players including Amazon Web Services, Azure, IBM SoftLayer and Google Cloud etc do not guarantee 100% uptime to their customers as they also suffer with unexpected outages. Private cloud services which are meant to offer better reliability than public clouds also experience service interruptions when they have sudden downtime issues. 

When downtime was required for maintenance, most of the cloud service providers plan during off peak hours and inform ahead to make sure there will be less impact on businesses. However, when unexpected downtime happens business continuity will get affected and the business processes will be  temporarily suspended until downtime issues are resolved. The impact of outage on businesses will be devastating especially when they depend on cloud for multiple services. For instance, if a business relies on cloud service for website application, data storage and hosting needs, then a single downtime instance can impact negatively in multiple aspects. Handling such outages becomes even more challenging for e-commerce online retailers because their sales depend on website availability.

Service Lock-in Issues

When frequent outage and performance issues happen, many think about changing their providers to a better service. This flexibility is low in cloud when compared to traditional hosting practices because businesses often get tied into long-term contracts with service providers. In addition to that some of them sign-up for multiple services with one cloud provider and build their systems based on this architecture. In such cases, it is not easy to switch providers as it would affect their entire business functionality. While cloud is flexible in many aspects, service lock-in is a major concern while dealing with cloud service providers.

Uptime In Cloud

Uptime is an important metric that decides the quality and reliability of a cloud provider. Some cloud services commit higher uptime rates but in real they may not reach those numbers consistently throughout the year. No matter how reputed the cloud provider might be, if uptime numbers are not reached then it raises a concern whether to retain the service. Some cloud services can resolve the downtime issues in couple of hours, whereas others may take much longer due to technical complexity. 

For online businesses even a small interruption in the website availability or delay in page load times can make customers leave the site costing potential sales. Having multi cloud services may resolve downtime issues to some extent but this approach could go wrong if the alternative service is also of low-quality. All in all, a consistent check on the uptime statistics is very important if the businesses want to provide a good online experience to the users. Tracking uptime is not easy as some cloud providers keep their customers blindfolded without revealing the correct numbers. One of the viable options to get the correct data on uptime statistics is having a constant check by a quality website monitoring service. By knowing real uptime percentages via monitoring service, businesses can easily measure service downtimes in cloud.