« Business Continuity

Businesses that rely on the cloud may need to rethink strategies

Netflix, and other companies that rely on Amazon's cloud computing service, experienced technical difficulties after a lightning strike interrupted the system last week.
Netflix, and other companies that rely on Amazon's cloud computing service, experienced technical difficulties after a lightning strike interrupted the system last week.

With one lightning strike in Virginia last Friday night, well-known sites such as Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram were on temporary hiatus as Amazon's cloud computing service was inaccessible for several hours, with customers unsure what had happened or if their data was even safe.

As technology has increased, and consumers and businesses can now access information from smartphones and tablets and have Internet-connected cars and appliances, there is also a greater risk of being exposed to new dangers and unforeseen risks.

While Amazon released a statement on Saturday that said service had been restored to most of its customers, it was still unsure what caused the data center's backup generator to also fail. This is the second technology glitch Amazon has experienced in a little over a year. In April 2011, an issue with Amazon's networking at a nearby data center caused a number of applications and popular websites – including Reddit and Quora – to go down for more than a day.

This most recent disruption, though, seemingly did not affect Amazon's cloud computing customers, such as Intercontinental Hotels, Fox Entertainment and Unilever. Even so, analysts believe that the disruption will cause extra scrutiny of offered cloud services.

"The way companies view it is in terms of reliability generally," said Michael Chui, a senior fellow at McKinsey and Company. Big customers of Amazon, he said in a New York Times article that they "have the opportunity to shape the marketplace and make demands that make products better. They will push for improvements." 

As previously reported on in this blog, more technology can mean more ways of data exposure, either through accidental means or when employees purposely post company information on social media sites. While businesses and organizations cannot fully predict the extent of damages that may occur, it would be beneficial to pair with a business continuity consultant, to try and prepare for as many situations as possible and what the best possible forms of recovery would be.