When, not If: Having a plan B (and C!) when a cloud outage occurs

One of the biggest changes with so many services moving to the cloud is lack of control. Although it is much more stable and secure versus running your own servers, there is a distinct feeling of helplessness. While before, your IT team would be diligently heads down, working through the issue, now you submit a ticket to a large corporation, then hurry up and wait.

But that is not all you can do! A solid plan B in the event of an outage can get your functioning at least partially. We wanted to share some examples of how we were able to deal with two outages just last week.

Office 365 is far and away the largest provider of business class mail. On 7/31 an outage occurred that kept people from being able to login to Outlook. Conveniently, Microsoft provided a list of workarounds that we leveraged, which included using Outlook Web Access (OWA) via a web browser. This meant people were up and running again pretty quickly, even if they were stuck working a little slower than normal.

A much harder to workaround was required for an outage from a major security provider. While Sophos is one of the largest spam filtering companies in the world, even they are not immune to outages. On 7/31, they had an issue lasting all day which kept mail from coming in or out for their customers. On 8/4 they had another outage that resulted in outgoing messages arriving to people completely blank. While we could have sat back and waited for the outages to resolve, after a few hours we did an emergency move of our clients to a secondary filtering service we use, which resulted in them being able to send and receive emails again about halfway through the outage. We still left the old filter online so that messages stuck during that time slowly trickled in. One additional option is to temporarily remove any third party spam services and let emails flow directly to Office 365 (if in use). The built in filtering is not great, but is significantly better than nothing at all, or just waiting for the cloud to come back online!

Clear Guidance Partners excels when it comes to your tech strategy and planning. We cannot prevent outages 100%, but we can take steps to minimize the impact when they occur, thinking through the many scenarios that may impact your business. Our elite team of engineers are also great at coming up with a plan in the heat of the moment. Let’s chat and see how we can help!

Dustin Bolander