Whew! I’m safe! I’m in the cloud, I don’t need a disaster plan!

Please don’t agree with me. I had chills just writing that. Look, it is very exciting to be out of the datacenter business. No more worries about cabinets, cables, or cooling. No more pesky power issues, counting rack units, or server procurement. 100% software defined datacenter, baby! It’s a dream and the conclusion of a many-year strategy for many. Or perhaps you’re one of the new, hip kids living the dream with containers and continuous integration.

Sure, many clouds can offer uptime SLAs, security, and features that many individual businesses could not duplicate, and we can assume, if you are now all-in-cloud, that your business uptime requirements are met when the cloud meets their SLA. However, the most important questions to ask is: “Is the business uptime requirement met if my provider doesn’t meet their SLA?” And, if they broke the uptime SLA, you’re out of guarantees. Is the business willing to risk uptime based on that SLA?

A product director of a cloud native application once shared with me her perspective, “The biggest concern is not if you are down during a cloud outage, it’s if your competitor is up.” In other words, if there’s a power outage at your restaurant and the whole city is dark, people don’t blame you, but if the party moves next door because they have lights and cold drinks, you’ve lost customers.

Okay, enough F.U.D. I’m not proposing a belt and suspenders, I’m just proposing an honest assessment of how your business can be resilient even in the cloud. There are generally four methods that businesses choose between for their cloud resiliency strategy:

  • Application Native Resiliency
    This model puts the job of resiliency on the developers and cloud architect. A self-healing, chaos-monkey-resistant application is everyone’s dream, but frankly finding and funding cloud architects and developers up to this task is still challenging in 2017.
  • Inherent Cloud Infrastructure Resiliency
    This leverages built in resiliency capabilities in your cloud provider such as replicating storage across cloud zones as a simple way to add some protection. This is a good start, but the effort of standing up the ecosystem of workloads and services at the target zone should be considered well in advance of any outage.
  • Cross Cloud Resiliency
    Replicate your workloads and services across clouds. There are technologies such as containers and Kubernetes that may make this far more achievable for those using them. However, even without them this type of recovery can be architected and maintained using existing tools and strategies. It does require resources from your IT team to setup and maintain.
  • Utility Model
    This is the “power’s out, let’s eat ice cream until the lights come back on” approach. Okay there are legitimate times to just admit that the cloud is your utility grid and business can wait, because let’s face it, you’re not the only one that’s down and the competition is likely sitting in the dark too.

The purpose of this exploration of cloud resiliency strategies was to get people thinking about their business resiliency even for workloads in the cloud. There are likely many variants on the models I described, but these are the approaches we’ve seen most often.

I’ll close with my new cloud-era toast:

“May all your clouds exceed their SLAs and may your application be resilient when they don’t”.

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