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ANZ organisations grappling with cloud outages

A majority of organisations from Australia and New Zealand admitted in a survey that they had not fully evaluated the impact of cloud outages which were longer than they had expected

Nearly two-thirds of Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) businesses are unsure how a cloud outage might affect their business, a survey has found.

The Truth in cloud survey of 1,200 global organisations revealed that 99% plan to move some systems to the cloud in the next two years. In ANZ, 24% of respondents expect to outsource all infrastructure to the cloud.

But analysis of the survey, conducted in 2017 by Vanson Bourne and sponsored by Veritas Technologies, revealed either alarming naivety or immense confidence among cloud computing users.

Some 62% of ANZ respondents admitted that they had not fully evaluated the impact of a cloud outage, which Veritas said was broadly in line with worldwide trends.

But cloud services have been plagued by outages. The most recent cloud monitoring statistics for Oceania and Asia from CloudSquare revealed significant outages over the past fortnight.

A Fujitsu service was down for 56 minutes, a Microsoft Azure instance for 38 minutes, two of Zettagrid’s Australian datacentres for 39 minutes and 21 minutes, respectively, and Amazon for two minutes.

For mission-critical applications, even two minutes can be challenging, though according to Mike Palmer, executive vice-president and chief product officer at Veritas, even well-managed internal computer operations experience downtime.

The bigger challenge was an apparent belief that the cloud was a “panacea for all infrastructure problems”. Instead, he said companies still needed to take responsibility for the availability of applications, along with the resilience and governance of data even if things were in the cloud.

“Companies need to make sure that the same practices occur as in a private datacentre, such as back up data, copy data and restore operations,” said Palmer. “The number one guideline is that you need a balance between developer agility and corporate governance.”

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The survey also found that 35% of respondents expect less than 15 minutes of downtime a month, but the reality was that 47% had experienced 31 minutes of downtime a month.

Palmer said the challenge of ensuring systems resilience was particularly acute in organisations with “fragmented environments” constructed from multiple clouds and on-premise systems.

“Depending on the complexity of application inter-dependencies during restart and the amount of data lost during the outage, the actual time of application recovery may be far longer than the time of infrastructure recovery,” Veritas warned.

“An organisation may alternately decide to be more proactive and failover applications back to their on-premise datacentre or to another cloud. This would be the primary responsibility of the organisation, not the cloud service provider,” it added.

Palmer said organisations lacked understanding about the anatomy of a cloud outage and that recovery needed to be a responsibility shared by the enterprise and the cloud supplier.

“Getting this right means less downtime, financial impact, loss of customers’ trust and damage to brand reputation,” he said.

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