The thought of downtime can bring a chill to the bones of any IT team. Depending on the online demand you have for your products or services, even an hour or two of downtime can result in significant financial losses or catastrophic consequences of various other kinds.

As such, avoiding downtime should be a high priority item for any IT or Operations Manager. So, is the AWS cloud completely immune to downtime? We’ll discuss the various aspects of this question below.

The true cost of downtime

The true cost of downtime will vary from business to business, but whether you’re an SMB or an enterprise, all businesses that have critical services on the cloud should design their services from the ground up for high availability.

Gartner has reported the average cost of downtime to be $5,600 per minute. This varies between businesses, as no single business is run the exact same way or has the exact same setup, so at the low end this average could be more like $140,000 per hour, and $300,000 per hour on the high end.

To further break down their findings, Gartner’s research showed that 98% of organisations experience costs over $100,000 from a single hour of downtime. 81% of respondents said that 60 minutes of downtime costs their business in excess of $300,000. And 33% of enterprises found that that one hour of downtime cost them anywhere between $1-5 million.

Some of the causes for such a huge loss during and after a business experiences downtime can include some of the following:

  • Loss of sales
  • Certain business-critical data can become corrupted, depending on the outage
  • Costs of reviewing and resolving systems issues and processes
  • Detrimental reputational effect with stakeholders and customers
  • A drop in employee morale
  • A reduction in employee productivity

The always-online cloud services fallacy

Many businesses have migrated to the cloud and assumed that high availability is all a part of the cloud package, and doesn’t require any further expertise, investigation or implementation – however, this is not the case. To ensure high availability and uptime of internal systems and tools, a business must plan for this during its initial implementation. Properly setting up a business AWS environment for high availability requires an in-depth understanding of all that AWS has to offer, which is where a business can benefit greatly from outsourcing to an MSP that specialises in AWS cloud services.

Your business could experience more downtime with AWS than you would with a traditional hosting service.

Many people are surprised to learn that simply migrating to the cloud doesn’t automatically mean that their services will effectively become bullet-proof. In fact, the opposite can often be true.

AWS cloud services are complex and require extensive experience and in-depth knowledge to properly manage. This means there is a far greater chance for error when AWS services are being configured by an inexperienced user, leaving the services more vulnerable to security threats or performance issues that could ultimately result in downtime.

However, on the other hand, when AWS cloud services have been properly planned and configured from the ground up by certified professionals, the cloud can offer significantly greater availability and protection from downtime than traditional hosting services.

High Availability, Redundancy and Backups

‘High Availability’ is a term often attributed to cloud services, and refers to having multiple geographical regions where your website or application can be accessed from (as opposed to end-users always relaying requests back to a single server in one location). Because of the dynamic and data replicating nature of the cloud, some businesses mistake high availability for being inclusive of redundancy and backups.

                    

High availability can refer to redundancy in the sense that should one geographical access point suffer an outage, and another can automatically step in to cater to an end-user’s request. However, it does not mean that your website or application does not still also require an effective backup and disaster recovery plan.

                    

Should something go wrong with your cloud services, or certain parts of your environment become unavailable, you will need to rely on your own plan for replication or recovery. AWS offers a range of options to cater to this, and these should always be carefully considered and implemented during the planning and building phases.

How can you best protect your business from downtime?

So, to answer the question “Are AWS cloud services immune to downtime?”, the answer is no, as it would be for any form of technology. At this time, there is no technology that can truly claim to be entirely failsafe. However, AWS cloud services can get your business as close to failsafe as it is possible to get – if it’s done right.

For businesses that are serious about ensuring their online operations are available as much as possible, such as those involved in providing critical care, high demand eCommerce environments, or enterprise-level tools and systems, it’s essential to have your cloud services designed by a team of certified AWS professionals who have the correct credentials and expertise. If you’re interested in discussing this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team for a free consultation.