Yesterday we woke up to another instance of an user locked out of Google’s cloud
has covered this story and offered some valuable suggestions to
survive such scary scenarios. I thought I will go a little bit further and offer
some tips to tweak the cloud strategy for small businesses. I also recommend you
to check out my previous post titled Questions to Ask Before Trusting a Cloud Vendor.
The two important aspects of any cloud strategy for small businesses are
Every business might have their own cloud strategies but all of them should
have the above two factors baked in them. Let me first define the two terms and
also offer some tips on how they can be incorporated into the cloud
When small businesses move their data and
applications to the web, it is very important to spread it among different
providers. If all the applications from mail to calendar to word processing to
web analytics are with a single vendor, any lockout like the one Zoli mentioned
in his post will result in cutting off all the apps used by the small businesses.
It is important to select different vendors for different apps so that any
lockout will not bring down the entire business to its knees.
For example, a
small business can pick Google Apps for email and calendaring needs, Zoho or
Thinkfree for productivity apps, Pbwiki for Wiki needs and Freshbooks for
accounting needs. Such a diversification of vendors ensures that the entire
operation of a business is not brought down by such lockouts or outages. I do
agree that it is a big hassle to manage so many different vendors but it is
nothing compared to the loss a business will incur if the whole operation is
brought down by lockouts or outages.
Redundancy can be achieved by having a good
backup strategy in place. Zoli has already spoken about the need for a backup
strategy. It is very important to build redundancy from ground up for small
businesses. Every small business needs a domain name for branding. The DNS of
the domain is forwarded to the nameservers of the hosting provider, thereby
tying the fate of a business to the stability of the hosting provider.
strategy will have an intermediate DNS provider between the domain registrar and
the hosting provider. One can use a service like DNS Made Easy to manage the
DNS and also to have a proper DNS failover strategy in place. Such an
arrangement will give you the complete control of the DNS of your business
domain. You can either implement a DNS failover strategy or change the DNS
server manually whenever your hosting provider or email provider goes down or
you get locked out.
In the case of the lockout mentioned above, the business
owner could have easily changed the MX records to a new provider and continued
receiving mails. By having a smaller TTL value for the A record of the main
website and MX records, it is easy to ensure the propagation of DNS records
within a short period of time.There are ways to have redundant backup strategy
for all the other SaaS apps and storage apps including the ones mentioned by
Zoli in his post yesterday. I will also be writing more about such strategies in
my Living in the Clouds series.
I am writing this post because I wanted to emphasize the importance of baking
in the diversification and redundancy plans into any cloud strategy implemented
by a small business. Such outages should not scare you from adapting cloud
computing into your business. Any small business will have a backup option for
the electricity they use. Even though power failures in the developed nations
are a rare event, it is very important to have a backup strategy for power. It
is a same case with cloud computing too. Lockouts and outages are very rare but
we have to be prepared for it.