It’s easy to be snide from my blogging armchair – it’s one of the many questionable things that the internet has made possible. It also enabled the existence of two of the largest companies in the world, Amazon and Google, which makes it all the more ironic, amusing and somewhat disheartening that these same companies are at the capricious mercy of the very thing on which they are founded. While Google doesn’t often suffer from outages, when they do, as they did today for about an hour, it’s hard not to notice. And when internet retail giant Amazon has severe, widespread outages the prior day during the first hour of their much vaunted “Prime Day”, it makes you wonder if there is any hope for everyone else, especially seeing as Amazon owns the world’s largest cloud computing network that is designed explicitly to stave off outages like the one they experienced.
What this means for you
Neither company has shared any technical details on the outages or their cause. Even if they did, it’s unlikely that anyone but a select, geeky few would truly understand and be able to apply any technical lessons learned. However, as most of you who have worked with technology in your business have grown innately to expect, technology will fail you at the least opportune, most damaging time possible, and the only way to counter this certainty is to plan for that failure. How would one go about reasonably planning for technology failure given how utterly pervasive and unpredictable it is? Start by evaluating what elements of your business or operations are critical – not for success – but for continued operation.
- What technology things (data, devices, platforms, services, etc.), if you did not have, would cause serious problems for your business?
- Of the items identified in #1, which of them are truly irreplaceable? eg. Customer sales data, email conversations, custom-built software. Keep in mind that some data can be recreated, but it may not be valued the same as the original.
- How long could you operate without them before their absence becomes permanently damaging?
Most everything you’ve identified in the above can probably be hardened, copied, backed-up, cloned or retired/replaced by something less vulnerable, and the most valuable things, like data, are often the easiest and least expensive to secure against disaster, but only if you actually take the step to back it up. Other things, like lack of internet, can also be worked around, but only if you have a plan and know how and when to execute it when your less-than-Prime Day arrives.