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If Facebook Can Go Down, What About Your Cloud Provider?

If Facebook Can Go Down, What About Your Cloud Provider?

Too big to fail used to apply exclusively to banks and financial services institutions, but now regulators around the world are concerned about a different type of organisation creating systemic risks to the global financial system. As more and more banks move critical processes to the cloud, reliance upon a very small number of dominant cloud service providers are creating risks to operational resilience. Regulators are likely to act fast to ensure that these risks are mitigated and that banks can manage stressed exits from cloud providers should the need arise. To prepare for inevitable tests of ability to manage these stressed exits, and for potential actual cloud failures, banks need to move to connected hybrid, multi-cloud platforms.

Not if, but when

Cloud service providers pride themselves on their very high levels of availability, and mercifully widespread outages are rare. But they can, and do, happen. Recently a configuration error at Facebook saw 3.5 billion internet users affected and shut out of any services that depended on Facebook for over 5 hours. Irritating for those wanting to share kitten videos – potentially devastating for the thousands of businesses that rely on Facebook for their digital presence. The outage, in the middle of a bad week for Facebook, saw over $6 billion wiped off the firm’s value. Earlier in the year similar failures at CloudFlare and Fastly knocked out significant proportions of the internet. These outages were annoying but imagine the impact if one or more banks lost all core systems for an hour, a few hours, or even an entire day!

Risk concentration

Only a handful of cloud providers are big enough, and sophisticated enough, to handle the critical data processing and compute needs of today’s banks. But dependency on single cloud providers, or worse, systemic risk as the majority of banks rely on one or two global-scale cloud providers, is keeping regulators awake at night. A failure, even temporary, of even one of these industry goliaths, could bring large numbers of banks to a standstill, instantly. In response, regulators are working on ways to model and test how quickly banks can migrate data and processing from one cloud to another in a ‘forced exit scenario.’ In other words, they want to know what banks will do if their primary cloud provider suddenly becomes inaccessible as Facebook did.

Resilient clouds

What would you do if this happened at your bank? Could you switch to alternative platforms, and if so, how long would it take? Can you guarantee continuity of service if you have a technical or commercial failure with your cloud service provider?

Multi-cloud presents a partial solution. Any move to the cloud should certainly not be a move to a single cloud – but multi-cloud strategies on their own do not solve the operational resilience issue. Running individual systems in different clouds does not provide redundancy. Business continuity plans must include capability to move data quickly and securely from one vendor’s cloud to another.

Maintaining an on-prem, or private cloud capability as part of a hybrid-cloud solution also provide some risk mitigation, but only if vendor-cloud based work can be quickly repatriated. And what happens if hybrid platforms are provided by a single cloud vendor? They could also be impacted by an outage. In Facebook’s case its own servers were also taken offline by the fault (engineers could not even get into the building as authentication servers controlling physical access also went down).

No Single Point of Failure

Banks need to invest in both approaches simultaneously. Hybrid, Connected Multi-Cloud data platforms are the only way to maintain operational resilience to potential failures at cloud service providers. To pass the inevitable stressed exit tests, and to prepare for actual outages, banks must demonstrate that they have no single point of failure for their cloud infrastructure.

Teradata is unique in that it can connect multiple clouds from the market leaders Microsoft, AWS and Google as well offering a dedicated private cloud and on-premise solution. Other vendors can offer multi-cloud, or hybrid, but no one else can create hybrid, connected multi-cloud solutions the deliver real operational resilience to banks.

Connecting multiple clouds and offering a hybrid solution is just the first step. To successfully manage a forced exit from a cloud requires fast and secure movement of petabytes of data and the ability to stand-up operations on new infrastructure as quickly as possible. The speed and scalability of Teradata is uniquely adept at providing this capability. Get in touch to talk about our Hybrid Connected Multi-Cloud data platform and get ahead of the game in preparing for stress exits from cloud service providers. After all, as Facebook demonstrates, even today’s biggest clouds are not too big to fail.
Portrait of Simon Axon

Simon Axon

Simon Axon leads the Financial Services Industry Consulting practice in EMEA. His role is to help our customers drive more commercial value from their data by understanding the impact of integrated data and advanced analytics. Prior to taking up his current role, Simon led the Data Science, Business Analysis & Industry Consultancy practices in the UK & Ireland,  utilising his diverse experience across multiple industries to understand our customer’s business and identify opportunities to leverage data and analytics to achieve high-impact business outcomes. Before joining Teradata in 2015, Simon worked for the Sainsbury's Group and CACI Limited.

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