What would you expect residents of Sydney to be doing Sunday afternoon and evening, 5 June 2016? Watching the big fight? In a way, they were. Storms hit the city and real clouds slugged it out with virtual clouds.
Nature scored points and something of a knockout in the first round, taking out some of Amazon’s Sydney web services and data centre facilities.
Amazon virtual clouds staged a comeback and had services back up and running by the next morning. In the meantime, end-users went to social media to complain about the breakdown and lack of business continuity.
Worrying enough perhaps, but sometimes it takes far less than giant storm clouds to bring communities to their knees, as the following example shows.
Back in September 2015, 30,000 homes and businesses in Sydney’s north-west lost more than their web services. They lost all their electrical power. Was it caused by explosions in a major power plant? Freak flooding on a scale rarely seen anywhere? No – In fact, the outage was caused by one excavator striking one underground power cable.
There are lessons for the business continuity community from both these events.
- Firstly, if even giants like Amazon, king of the scalable, reliable, redundant cloud computing service, can be caught out, then most likely anybody can. Stay prepared! Today, running with two cloud providers may no longer be a luxury, but a wise and affordable precaution.
- Secondly, even small entities (relatively speaking) can trigger large disasters. The excavator ripping out cables and wreaking havoc is part of the lore of business continuity, almost so often cited that it has become something of a myth. Yet, as the incident above shows, it still happens.
So, check those backup power generators!
Put alternative service providers and options in place!
Make sure your alternative power and networking links run over a different physical network, preferably entering your premises from the opposite side to where the other links enter!
And in general, if you prepare for the worst, you probably won’t be disappointed.