Big Website Outages: What It Means to You

What’s up with being down?

If you’re a Google, Microsoft and Amazon user, you may recently have had a feeling that the sky was falling, or at least that there was a black cloud over your head. Why?

On Friday, Google services went down.

On Saturday, Microsoft’s Outlook.com service went down.

On Monday, Amazon.com went down.

That’s a lot of high-profile website outages. But the impact of the downtime was not evenly felt.

Google’s outage was amazingly brief: somewhere between 2 – 5 minutes. But the impact was huge. It was not just Google search that was down. Not just Gmail. But all Google services. So many people use these Google services that it was estimated that overall Internet traffic dropped 40% during those few minutes of downtime.

Microsoft’s outage was confined to a few services – Outlook.com, SkyDrive and Contacts – so it affected a fraction of the people impacted by the Google outage. But it lasted for days, not minutes. So if you used Outlook.com for your email, it was a seriously bad outage.

Amazon’s outage was for their main Amazon.com website for U.S. and Canadian customers (not related sites like Zappos.com or other country-specific versions of the Amazon site). Reports about the length of the downtime vary from about 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Not too long, but they may have lost some business as frustrated shoppers turned to other online retailers. And because Amazon.com averages $117,882 in sales every minute, a 40 minute outage could mean $4.72 million in lost sales (of course customers may simply have come back and purchased later).

Google’s brief outage also had real costs. The company is said to make about $108,000 per minute. So their 5-minutes of downtime would mean $545,000 in lost revenue.

So, what does all this mean? High-profile outages often lead to speculation about cyberattacks by individual hackers, hacker groups or even Chinese government hackers. But it doesn’t appear that hackers were behind either of this past week’s outages.

In all likelihood it’s just a high-profile coincidence. But it can be a meaningful coincidence and an important reminder.

To businesses large and small, it should be a reminder that their systems are vulnerable – and not just to headline-grabbing natural disasters. The reality is that it’s not whether your servers will go down (due to natural disasters, human error, equipment failure or other causes) but when. And when it happens, how fast and how well can you recover, and what will the impact to your business be?  A prolonged outage or one that causes data loss can be catastrophic for many businesses.

cloud disaster recovery (DR) for business continuitySo having a business continuity plan and services such as Cloud Server Backup and Cloud Disaster Recovery are essential to mitigate these very real and very big risks to your business.

And for all our high-speed and dial-up Internet access customers, these outages can be a reminder not to assume your Internet connection is down just because you can’t get to Google.com or Amazon.com.

If you can’t get to the one site you’re trying to visit, it’s always best to test your connection by trying to go to several different, unrelated sites like www.earthlink.net, www.npr.org, www.whitehouse.gov, etc. You may find there’s no problem with your connection. Just a website outage.

Disaster Recovery in the Cloud…

disaster recovery in the cloudYou are already backing up your data so you can rebuild it when your server crashes and be up and running in a few hours. But what happens when you lose two servers?…three servers?…four, the network, power, and more? More importantly, are you prepared to continuing running if you lose everything all at once? Disasters happen, more often than you think. Are you prepared? Many organizations have a backup strategy but not a true IT disaster recovery strategy. How long would it take you to get IT back up and running if you lose everything?

So you already have a disaster recovery plan. Have you tested it recently? When was it documented? Updated? If you answered “No” and “It’s been a while,” then your plan may be ineffective. Most organizations don’t have a disaster recovery plan…and those that do may not know how to use it correctly.

The good news is EarthLink Business can help with our new Cloud Disaster Recovery solution. Disaster recovery in the cloud offers companies quick data restoration and effective IT recovery faster than any traditional disaster recovery model. Using the cloud for offsite recovery means your business will have the ability to recover your servers in the cloud environment (as opposed to simply using the cloud for offsite storage). With no capital expenses and subscription pricing, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is low. Don’t build it yourself and incur an enormous amount of up front expenses when you could pay an affordable monthly fee and use cloud based servers?

Here are some additional key benefits for utilizing disaster recovery in the cloud:

Data protection: Recovery in the cloud assures your data is recoverable and protected from man-made accidents, power outages, natural disasters, and server crashes.

Scalability and Rapid Implementation: By replicating your primary server environment, the Cloud environment can be quickly scaled to fully replace your primary servers and get your business back up and running in hours, not days.

No hardware requirements. No need for large server rooms and hardware specialists, saving money on power, energy and personnel expenses.

Leverage existing IT: EarthLink’s Cloud-based data recovery solution inter-operates with your existing hardware, applications and operating systems protecting both physical and virtual servers.

Get some additional sleep at night knowing that your information is safe, secure, and can turned up in a moment’s notice should a disaster strike. Contact your EarthLink Business representative to learn more.

 

2012 Was the Hottest Year Ever: Is Your Business Prepared for More Extreme Weather and Disasters?

Yesterday the National Climatic Data Center (part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA) released U.S. weather data for 2012.

It was really hot. And it was extreme.

The year was, in fact, a full degree hotter than the next hottest year—ever. And 2012 had the second most extreme weather ever. There were 11 climate-related disasters that caused $1 billion or more in losses, including Sandy and Isaac.

While there is still some political debate about climate change, the scientific consensus is that the planet is warming and that this warming will trigger more and more extreme weather.

For that reason, more and more businesses are taking extreme weather into their business continuity and data recovery planning—because catastrophic weather can very easily lead to catastrophic business losses.

Disaster recovery & business continuity - make sure your business is prepared for disasterCloud hosting and other virtualization services are inherently safer than having all your IT in-house and vulnerable to local weather and other extreme conditions. After superstorm Sandy, we were very happy to hear from customers like New Jersey-based Ciao Bella who reported that their EarthLink Cloud hosting services helped them remain fully operational and productive during and after the storm.

Our EarthLink Business and EarthLink Cloud divisions report that businesses contacting us about IT services are much more likely to require disaster recovery, business continuity, and data recovery services such as Cloud Server Backup  as part of their product requirements.

In times of crisis, a company’s data is the asset most at risk and hardest to replace. So it’s time to prepare now, before your business becomes a victim of the extreme weather that is becoming more frequent.

Let our disaster recovery and business continuity consultants provide you with a customized disaster and data recovery solution.