Are the Salesforce and AWS outages dirty rain for the cloud?

Originally Published on June 7, 2016

Every year more and more companies throw caution to the wind and jump onto the cloud bandwagon. Why not, cloud SaaS services are usually simple and easy to implement, the IT Directors do not have to buy and maintain their own hardware and it’s all provided at a scalable cost that fits the budget of almost every business size. However lurking under every hosted cloud service lies a dormant storm waiting to unleash.

Salesforce and Amazon

Such a storm hit Salesforce and Amazon in recent weeks. On May 9th Salesforce suffered an outage which affected millions of users and resulted in a loss of more than 4 hours of data. On June 5th AWS in Australia was hit by an outage caused by a real storm in Sydney. The affected customers included Dominos Pizza, Foxtel, Westpac Bank and Bank of Queensland.

Ultimately, the “cloud” is simply someone else’s computer. In the case of Salesforce it was their business continuity strategy that fell down and for the Australian companies it was Amazon’s disaster recovery strategy that failed. The inherent risk of cloud services is the handing over control of all your systems and customer data to a 3rd party that may have a very different approach to DR and BCP as to your company.

For any SaaS application, the most frightening dormant storm trembling in the background is if the SaaS vendor fails financially or technically to the extent that all services are terminated overnight. In an immediate instance, the relied on systems together with the data is gone.

The point of this article is to get you thinking. Often when people outsource their IT processes they simply forget to take into full account the bigger picture of how solid and robust their vendors’ platform is.

“only  31 percent in the U.K are currently using or plan to use a cloud to cloud backup solution for their SaaS applications within the next 12 months.”

A December 2015 IT Pro survey analysed the attitudes of IT directors in the UK and the USA to the backup and protection of their SaaS applications. The research survey found that organizations mostly rely on their SaaS vendor for backup and recovery of their SaaS applications and only  31 percent in the U.K are currently using or plan to use a cloud to cloud backup solution for their SaaS applications within the next 12 months.

Salesforce and Amazon are huge organisations and unlikely to suffer terminal failure. However their recent outages highlight that with all the benefits of the cloud across the IT landscape especially from smaller vendors, it doesn’t always rain sterile water, and sometimes that water can be quite dirty.

One of the tools available to companies to mitigate against this “dirty water” is to have a SaaS Escrow arrangement in place. SaaS Escrow is a simple agreement between the customer, the vendor and a trusted 3rd party escrow agent. Under a SaaS Escrow  arrangement, the software escrow agent holds an up to date copy of the runtime environment and recent backup of the actual data. This becomes available to the customer only in the event that the SaaS vendor ceases operations.

SaaS escrow has become a very popular solution among companies today that rely on cloud services.

Contact Escrow London today : +44 (0) 20 3862 0380