Is your cloud services provider prepared for disaster?

The extreme weather events of recent weeks made many of us stop and think about how prepared we are when it comes to facing a disaster. Being prepared doesn’t just involve preparing your own business. Your suppliers need to be prepared too, especially key suppliers whose ability to provide their services can impact on your business continuity.

For this reason, it’s time to ask your cloud services provider, how prepared are they to face disaster?

A recent storm-related outage left Amazon Web Services, which hosts websites including Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram, inaccessible. According to International Working Group, over the last couple of years, 13 major cloud services providers have experienced a total of 568 hours of downtime. This has had an economic impact of US$71.7 million.

Ask these questions of your cloud services provider to help you determine how prepared they are.

What is your baseline uptime?

If you are expecting 99.999 per cent uptime, and your cloud provider doesn’t deliver that as standard, you might need to re-negotiate. Be aware, asking for a higher rate of uptime can add to your monthly service costs.

Remember 99.95 per cent uptime is still 30 hours downtime a year.

How is downtime defined?

You might define ‘downtime’ as something that impacts five per cent of end users. However, your cloud services provider might define ‘downtime’ as affecting 25 per cent or 50 per cent of users. Ask the question to ensure you are both on the same page. It’s important in managing expectations.

Does your contract exclude force majeure events?

Force majeure events are sometimes called ‘acts of God’. They are events that are outside the reasonable control of your cloud services provider – extreme weather that results in natural disaster is one example. Check what your provider defines as a force majeure event and aim to keep the definition narrow.

What is the risk of a major outage?

Investigate the stability of your provider’s cloud environment. Do your own due diligence, don’t just rely on what your provider tells you.

How do you plan to recover in the event of a disaster?

Your provider might tell you they have a disaster recovery plan in place, but you should dig deeper. Visit their site and use audit data to estimate their real recovery time.

It is one thing to have a plan but it’s another to have staff know how to use it in response to a disaster. Make sure your cloud services provider runs regular tests on their disaster recovery plan.

How do you deal with deployment?

With some cloud services providers it’s possible to deploy different cloud components (processing, storage, databases) in different availability zones with load balancers to route traffic. This aims to eliminate the single point of failure.

How can I receive preferential treatment?

When disaster strikes, it strikes many companies, not just yours. Does your cloud services provider offer a system that allows you to jump to the front of the queue, even if it comes at an extra cost?

What if I'm not satisfied?

Ask for the right to terminate your agreement in the event that your provider cannot restore your service after a predetermined period of downtime. Don’t find yourself caught paying for a service that isn’t being delivered.

If you need any assistance with your cloud services or technology planning or any advice around technology please call us on 1300 478 738 or email us at


About the Author

Geoff Stewart is a highly experienced and skilled Technology Director at Surety IT. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience having created customised, stable, well performing systems both for multi-national companies in the UK and Australia and Surety IT customers.

Surety IT can help you create the right system to enhance your business, ensuring you know how it is right for you and how to use it. We will tailor a solution to suit your needs with leading systems, local support and more, building your vision for a more flexible and capable business.

Call us today on 1300 478 738 or email to discuss your requirements.