We have all come to depend on technology. Beyond computing, it has permeated our day-to day lives, with most of us using our personal tech to do essential things like pay bills, shop, do our banking, read the news, and so on. For businesses of all sizes, the cloud has made it easier to operate leaner and smarter, enabling a mobile workforce and buoying what is likely the most significant disruption in the way the world gets things done. However, even the slightest bit of downtime is more than just an inconvenience when it translates to lost revenue and productivity.
Recently, we have seen minor interruptions in important infrastructure and cloud services like AWS (Amazon Web Server), Adobe Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Office 365, interruptions that for some companies meant that their business continuity was at stake. In those moments, every single company whose servers and data resided on these systems were forced to cease operations, as these seemingly all-powerful and redundant services simply stopped delivering. While these incidents are few and far between, they do happen. On average, if a site does suddenly become unavailable for some unexpected reason, the downtime is generally less than 30 seconds. While that doesn’t seem like much, it can mean a whole lot of lost revenue, and feed the frustration of customers who will undoubtedly turn tail and go elsewhere. In order to maintain a promise of high availability, we need to understand the reasons why these services may fail, even if only for a moment. These reasons include:
Probably the most common source of downtime, hardware malfunctions can happen when there is a power outage, causing the entire system to fail. In a cloud environment, however, hardware is continually monitored, and risk can generally be mitigated quite efficiently.
Software or application failure is generally attributable to user error or mishandling of system resources.
Malware, DDoS, or other forms of malicious attacks can compromise a system in short order. Servers must make use of the latest security measures to ensure data is protected, and continually update servers to protect them from the latest threats.
There are plenty of providers who promise 99.9%, 99.999%, or even better, 100% uptime guarantees. 100% is the best-in-class solution, and is limited to dedicated cloud and virtual server plans, which often carry a marked difference in pricing. This is largely due to the fact that to be able to guarantee 100% uptime, they must have the resources, including strategic data centre locations, to back up their claims. Even with a 100% uptime guarantee, this may not take into account scheduled downtime for maintenance, for example. Along with relentless efforts to deliver, the 100% uptime provider will have incredibly robust security, best-in-class hardware and support, and 24/7/365 monitoring to back it up.
A 99.999% uptime guarantee is often sufficient for many businesses. Also known as “5-nines or better”, it significantly decreases the downtime of its closest challenger, 99.99%. To better illustrate the differences one 9 makes, consider these downtime stats per 30-day period:99% = 7hrs 12 minutes99.9% = 43 minutes 12 seconds99.99% = 4 minutes 19 seconds99.999% = 26 seconds99.9999% = about 3 seconds
If your hosting provider guarantees a certain level of uptime and is unable to deliver, you may be entitled to credits or refunds. It’s important to check this yourself, as you may be paying for a service guarantee that you are not receiving, and the more ambitious the guarantee, it is likely the more you will pay. Choose a hosting provider that delivers the kind of uptime guarantee you require is important, but before you commit, find out exactly what they mean by their uptime promise and what, if any, caveats there are – such as scheduled maintenance, for example. Anything less than 100% usually refers to a specific time span, similar to those stated above. If what they promise doesn’t live up to your expectations in terms of both service and price, you’re well within your rights to keep shopping. It’s your money, after all.
If you are concerned about your cloud server and hosting uptime, call Greenlight today. One of our technicians would be happy to speak to you about how you can get the best service and value from your hosting provider.