Amazon has always advised its customers to engineer for failure and to expect that individual servers or services will fail from time to time. Migrating to the public cloud does not remove the requirement for data backups, failover partners, or disaster recovery to another region. Failures can happen, and AWS customers suffered a five hour disruption to Amazon’s S3 storage service in a US region on February 28th.
Resiliency Tools in the Public Cloud
The elasticity of the cloud does however mitigate the costs of these backup solutions by allowing you to scale up and down, paying by usage, rather than actual hardware. The cloud platforms also provide tools and features in order to avoid these types of failures, such as built-in resiliency, or cross region replication. These tools which are available in the public cloud are often either not available with a private cloud or prohibitive to build in-house.
NetFlix employs a well-known example of resiliency testing with their legendary Simian Army tools (Chaos Monkey, Chaos Gorilla). They will routinely and deliberately destroy parts of their infrastructure to ensure systems automatically fail over, reroute and self-heal. This type of testing ensures that applications are designed in an agile and resilient way with disaster recovery built directly into the overall architecture.
Although NetFlix is an extreme example of resiliency testing, nonetheless the tooling is included in the public cloud feature set and available for any other customer to use. Even a small startup could deploy the disaster recovery infrastructure on public cloud to rival the biggest of corporations.
Know Your Third Party in the Cloud
It should also be noted that even if you do not use Amazon directly, your suppliers or customers might, so it is important to understand where your critical applications are hosted and where the dependencies might be. Ensure you do the due diligence on your suppliers and ask the right questions.
Your business continuity plans have to account for not just your cloud usage, but also the third parties you rely upon, and their cloud usage.
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