Public cloud companies, especially the largest and most well-resourced ones, have a lot of built-in features for making servers highly available for their customers. But even global tech giants suffer from incidents and outages.
Smaller and independent datacenters are even more susceptible, as they’re made up of the same mix of high temperatures, electricity and flammable materials as on any other server farm, but often without the extensive resources of their larger counterparts.
Even barring disaster, companies sometimes make decisions that affect the experience of their cloud customers. As workforces switched en masse to remote meetings during the initial moments of the pandemic, Microsoft was forced to reroute some resources from Azure to support an increase in Teams traffic.
Whatever the reason for a disruption in cloud services, there are plenty of good reasons for not putting all your data eggs in one cloud basket. Here are just a few.
Hedge against outages
Perhaps the most obvious reason for hosting data in multiple clouds is a widespread or ongoing outage. While most large public cloud companies have contingencies in place to ensure a high level of uptime, service disruptions do still occur. In March of 2021, for instance, Microsoft reported worldwide outages of some key Azure services, which the company blamed on changes to its authentication systems. Microsoft reported another similar outage, though stemming from a different cause, only one month later.
While outages from industry giants like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud are rare and usually remedied quickly, small and regional datacenters are also at risk. An incident causing an outage could result from inclement weather, as happened in Texas this winter, or a fire like the one that broke out in a Strasbourg datacenter this March.
Whether outages result from untested procedures, natural disasters, fire, or some other freak event, no single cloud storage provider is immune to accident.
Global data compliance requirements
Data is subject to varying regulations all over the world and its likely to become more dependent on regional legislation rather than less. A significant recent example involves the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. Almost overnight (but more like after a tortuously long and convoluted process), compliance regulations for UK companies doing business with customers on the mainland changed, and vice versa.
To better prepare for shifts in the geopolitical winds, it can be helpful for companies to rely on cloud services from datacenters based around the globe. While it won’t be a luxury every company can afford, for midsize and larger companies it can certainly cut off headaches – or worse, GDPR fines – before they happen.
Lower latency for global businesses
Speaking of global businesses, small and mid-market organizations looking to expand their operations have another solid reason for diversifying cloud service providers. Distance between users and servers is one of the main sources of latency, which can negatively affect users’ experiences. By strategically enlisting datacenters close to core customer bases, growing businesses can head off these issues before they cause noticeable issues for users.
A world of cloud service combinations
High-availability data replication and data migrate capabilities, fortunately, provide a range of options for addressing the issues discussed above. These allow IT admins to be nimble with their organization’s data while backing it up and ensuring options for avoiding downtime in case of an incident.
Say an organization is running an SQL server at its offices in London when its power is cut by construction crews working just outside the building. With a high-availability plan in place, the company can failover to a secondary site in Birmingham. Because data was being replicated, byte-by-byte, to a datacenter in a satellite office, these servers can be kicked on with only seconds, or at most minutes, of data loss happening as a result.
Or consider another scenario. Another European nation decides to leave the EU, and suddenly datacenters in that nation no longer comply with the EU’s mandate that customer data be stored within the bloc. With the right high availability or data migration capabilities, an organization could quickly migrate its data to a remaining nation, or even failover to such a datacenter as soon as new laws go into effect.
The next wrench that’s thrown into your cloud services capabilities may look nothing like any of the options described above. Pandemic, natural disaster, political realignment – these are all real possibilities, but so are an infinite amount of other unknown and unforeseen hiccups to your service. The good thing is, with a little planning and a little redundancy, you can make sure your business is well-positioned to weather any storm, literal or not.