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You moved to the cloud ... the Internet's down. Now what?

John Brandon | Nov. 5, 2015
Major connectivity issues are bound to happen sooner or later. Will your employees be able to keep working, or is an Internet outage a prelude to sending everyone home for the day?

Slow binary snail.

You’d think the whole world had come to a standstill. 

A few weeks ago, when both Google Drive and Google Docs suddenly went AWOL for an afternoon, knowledge workers had no idea what to do. Since all of their data was stored online and the app they use for normal word processing was not available, they had little recourse but to switch to WordPad and, in some cases, try to remember where they left off in a business document. When it comes to mission-critical enterprise apps, not being able to connect makes it harder to complete projects, communicate with coworkers and stay productive. 

And, it’s costly. One IDC estimate said the average cost of mission critical application failure can run as high as $500,000 to $1M per hour for Fortune 1000 companies. 

Several experts have weighed in on how IT can handle this situation, other than just telling employees to move to a better Wi-Fi connection. In speaking to CIO.com, they relayed some best practices that, surprisingly, many organizations tend to ignore. 

Note: None of these strategies are an indictment of cloud computing. The advantages of scaling an infrastructure, working anywhere, and managed/hosted services outweigh some of the inconvenience described below. The main point, according to the experts, is that you need a plan for how to deal with those occasional access snafus. 

1. Develop a contingency plan 

One of the keys to keeping employees productive is to develop a contingency plan. IT consultant Chris Gerhardt says that every application in your Software-as-a-Service portfolio should have an alternate option. For example, if workers depend on Google Drive for their sales presentation, they should have an on-premises file storage option that still allows them to access mission critical files. This should include apps like Microsoft Office 365, Google for Work, GitHub, Azure and even Amazon Web Services. It should be treated like a disaster recovery plan. 

Part of this is a business process, he says. The sales person who relies on Google Drive should keep a backup copy of the same presentation on a corporate network storage location. 

“If you are running SaaS it is rather complicated,” he says. “You are very dependent on provider and an outage of the network or service makes it almost impossible to failover, thus you need to align with the provider's disaster recovery plans or have some contingency plans in place.” 

Kalpesh Rathod, the CEO and founder of the cloud content-storage app Cubes, says part of a contingency plan might involve finding a different connection, going back to the office where there is a promise of uptime over Wi-Fi, or having a workflow that always has some element of local storage in mind, even if it is syncing your files to Dropbox. 

 

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