The business world is quickly embracing the concept of cloud computing. A recent study forecasts that “spending on cloud computing infrastructure and platforms is expected to grow at a 30 percent compound annual growth rate from 2013 through 2018, compared with 5 percent growth for the overall enterprise IT.” This is, in part, because of the significant cost savings cloud computing can bring. Why shell out big bucks for an in-house IT department when you can rely on technicians at a remote server location for half the cost?

But cloud computing can have a dark side as well. Let’s examine what happened in the British Parliament mishap as a use case.

Parliament at a Standstill

A failure in Microsoft Office 365’s cloud service led to email and Skype disruption in Parliament for a whopping three days. For three days and nights, all work was partially suspended because of crashing web servers and slow and vanishing emails. News outlets reported that over 2,000 people were affected, including members of Parliament and peers. Needless to say, stopping Parliament affected all of Great Britain. The Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) team and Microsoft’s support team have not been able to identify any bugs as of yet, and they fear that problems may recur down the line.

The incident with Parliament is a solid reminder of the importance of visibility into the performance of cloud services. Continuous and proactive cloud monitoring is one step in defending against outages and downtime that can end up costing you time, money and business.

“The fact is that, by working in the cloud, you are no longer 100 percent in control of your IT products or services. When you have your systems in-house, you can have your IT personnel look after your system’s functioning health on a regular basis, preventing anomalies and ensuring your business’ smooth operation. That is simply not possible with remote servers, nor is it possible to rest assured that your provider is keeping its eye on the ball,” explains Jean-François Piot, Vice President Product Management at GSX, a provider of remote monitoring solutions.

“You need to do what the British Parliament overlooked all of this time. You need to go for a good cloud monitoring service, be it for in-the-cloud, on-premises or a hybrid of the two,” Piot says. And while we should take this advice with a grain of salt considering the source, it's worth noting the cost of network downtime. Gartner estimates the average cost as $5600 per minute or over $300,000 per hour.

Finding the Flaws

Cloud monitoring is the remote supervision of both physical and virtual servers, and includes figuring out shared resources and external running applications via the Internet. These services work constantly, identifying flaws in the infrastructure and discovering hidden patterns which may be overlooked, even by an in-house IT person. Whether your website is loading properly or has been defaced, cloud monitoring services will determine its status and report it to you. A good cloud monitoring solution will continuously analyze, test and verify your business' email server, network and website from multiple virtual locations.

How do you know if you need a cloud monitoring service? Answer this question: does your business uses the Internet for communications and operations? It’s no secret that email problems or website loading delays can cause serious damage to a business. As Harry Shum, executive vice president of technology and research at Microsoft, recently stated: “Consumers will visit a business website less frequently if it is slower than a competitor's page by a mere 250 milliseconds.” 

So if your business has transitioned to the cloud, consider how cloud monitoring might aid your efforts to ensure quality of service and business continuity. With frequent testing for uptime, latency and instant notification alerts on any possible chances of email, server or site failures, you can effectively keep users happy and satisfied with your service. Because let’s face it: as a business owner, you can’t let your business be the next disaster at Parliament.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  wwarby