Finding Opportunity After a Public Cloud Outage

Failure paves the road to success. The best way to learn is to make mistakes and build off them to ensure they’re not repeated. While this is true, not enough is said about lessons learned from others’ mistakes. Case in point, there is much partners can take away from Amazon’s public cloud outage last month.

DRaaSFor those that need a refresher, an AWS blackout incapacitated about 150,000 websites on February 28th. This was caused by an error made by an employee while debugging an issue with the billing system. According to Cyence, S&P 500 companies lost $150 million from downtime. This is because many
didn’t have the redundancy in their cloud strategies to get through the outage unscathed.

So, what does this mean for partners? Simply put, they can learn from the mistakes of these companies to better serve their customers. The big takeaway here is that no CSP is immune to outages. Although AWS is the market leader, and for good reason, businesses that don’t have the resources to effectively manage downtime are prone to losing a ton of money when it goes down. Money that could have been saved with a disaster recovery plan.

Strategies to Avoid

Before diving into how to capitalize on the opportunity created by this event, let’s look at some strategies that you should steer SMB customers away from.

AWS Zone Spread:

  • Spreads data and apps across multiple AWS Zones (US East, US West, EU Ireland, etc.).
  • Could be a good strategy for disasters like the S3 outage because only one region was affected.
  • However, it is a huge data management lift and can be very costly.
  • Live cross-region replication of DynamoDB table is expensive and difficult to execute.

Multi-Cloud Provider Spread:

  • Spreads data and apps across multiple cloud providers so other environments kick in to keep you productive when AWS goes down.
  • For some applications, pricing gets costly and complicated due to continuous use of multiple cloud providers.
  • Management burden for IT in maintaining all cloud environments simultaneously.

Positioning DRaaS as the Solution

DRaaS is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide failover of data and applications during an outage. If your customer’s primary environment goes down, DRaaS kicks in to limit data loss and maintain productivity. The main benefit of this technology is that it prevents massive financial losses caused by downtime. In fact, Windstream states that DRaaS saves companies an amortized average of over $63,450 per year in comparison to “do-it-yourself” DR. 

There is an immense opportunity to sell best-of-breed DRaaS to SMBs that were affected by the S3 outage, or those wise enough to understand that downtime is a matter of when, not if. According to Gartner, only 35 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses have DR plans in place, leaving a large portion of the market unprotected from the productivity, financial, and reputational losses an outage can cause.

Many of these smaller businesses don’t have the personnel or capital to successfully manage an AWS spread or multi-cloud strategy, so their best option for redundancy is leveraging DRaaS. This way they don’t have to give up the benefits of AWS, and they get greater peace of mind knowing that their critical apps and data will be monitored and available in the event of downtime.

Be that as it may, many SMBs are unaware of the cost effectiveness of DRaaS, so it’s up to you as a trusted consultant to educate them. Ponenmon’s 2016 Data Center Outage Report states the cost per minute of an unplanned outage went up from $943 in 2013 to $8,851 in 2016. That alone should be enough to convince them to pay for DRaaS because the capital spent on it pales in comparison to the financial damages caused by extensive downtime.

Also, if you use the right provider, DRaaS can be an extremely secure method of backup and recovery. A quality vendor will have measures in place to ensure its physical data centers are secure, and encrypt data in flight and at rest to satisfy compliancy requirements like HIPAA. DRaaS providers will regularly perform test restores to ensure your data is replicated and accessible in the event of an outage in your primary environment. Unfortunately, finding a provider that offers all of this can be challenging.

Enter Evolve IP

Evolve IP features one of the most robust and efficient suite of DRaaS solutions. Not only does it offer a flexible and cost-effective cloud backup and recovery technology, it also lends its expertise to help with planning and failover orchestration. A critical differentiator, Evolve’s DRaaS ensures customer systems can be activated and fully functional following an outage by running daily sandbox failover tests.

Most impressively, Evolve IP stores all data and applications in major Tier 4 data centers, which is a big reason why it maintained 100 percent uptime in 2016. It also leverages best-of-breed suppliers like Veeam, EMC, Intronis, and Zerto to provide the best DRaaS environment possible based on the unique needs of individual clients. As a bonus, it satisfies high compliancy needs for PCI and HIPAA, and will sign a BAA for healthcare clients.

To further set itself apart from its competitors that only provide backup, Evolve IP informs customers where their data and apps are, and how and when they will be restored per the unique needs of their recovery timeframes. This gives a business a huge advantage during an outage, providing immediate insight into which of its resources are available or unavailable or at other locations. Customers also have full visibility and management over image replication and failovers in case they need to make any customizations to meet specific challenges.

To get the conversation started, lead with the following discovery questions:

  • Do you have a DR plan? If so, what is it?
  • How often do you need to back up your data?
  • How much have you lost in outages?
  • What is most important to you to survive an outage?
  • What needs to always be on?
  • What needs to come back first, second and third as you switch to the failover site and get back online?
  • What is the impact to the company finances or reputation if critical resources are down for an extended time?

For more information on Evolve IP and its impressive suite of cloud services, check out our provider highlight.


About the Author
Adam Dawson is TBI’s Marketing Communications Manager. As the organization’s wordsmith, he is responsible for creating engaging content and carrying out internal and external communications programs. This includes circulating information to TBI’s agent partners, educating them on hot topics in the industry, and guiding them to the best provider products and solutions for their portfolios. You can reach Adam at or connect with him on LinkedIn.