Cloud Storage: Because A Smoke Detector in the Server Room Is Not A Good Contingency Plan
Let me preface this by saying there are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m an avid auto enthusiast.
2. I love learning how things are made.
3. I generate “what-if” scenarios in my brain to a concerning extent.
Technology is not the only change your company encounters. The actual business model, processes, operational structure and market conditions can also change. This means an ERP system which was implemented in 1998 is not operating in the same environment in 2018. Even organizations that are diligent about staying up-to-date on the latest software releases may find themselves experiencing pain with the current configuration of their system. At this point, it may be worth archiving the current system and considering a clean slate.
Those three aspects all came together when I found out that the Ford plants that make the F-150 had to shut down because one of their suppliers experienced a catastrophic fire. After I was able to confirm that no one was seriously injured, I laughed and planted my face firmly into my hands. It was becoming quickly apparent that Ford didn’t have a backup plan. The company had no way to resume production of their most popular and profitable vehicle because Meridian Magnesium was, I can only assume, their sole supplier. I have to imagine there was a GoToMeeting at Ford which mostly consisted of this:
Jack: “Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god”
Janet: “No no no no no no no no no”
Frank: “Hey guys! Did anyone watch Westworld last night? So what’s going on? Mondays, am I right??”
To be fair, Frank was still in the dark on the situation.
To resolve this production hiccup, “Ford said it moved 19 dies — used to shape magnesium parts — out of the Eaton Rapids plant in 30 hours…The automaker also flew one die weighing 87,000 pounds to a Meridian plant in Nottingham, England, after commissioning a giant Russian-built Antonov cargo plane, one of only 21 in the world.”
Now, I don’t have all the details of the debacle. Nor, do I have intimate knowledge of Ford’s production process or supplier procedures. I’m also not what you would traditionally call a journalist. However, based on what I’m able to gather, there was no contingency plan if the supplier went down. If you have to procure a giant plane to fly parts to England, well, to quote Richard Hammond “That’s not gone well.” While it’s easy to laugh and then express sympathy for those adversely affected by this situation, have you considered what would happen if something similar happened to your business? For the purposes of this article, I’m referring to data loss.
Data is the back bone of a business. Whether it’s stored on a server, in a file cabinet or in someone’s head, data is the company’s past, present and future. Should that data become compromised or lost, I predict a lot more meetings like the one described above. Data backups are nothing new. I remember tapes being created and then sent home with a given employee each night. However, cloud storage offers something much more reliable and cost-effective.
Storing data remotely, especially in a public cloud environment means a catastrophic event to your building won’t wipe out your data. Even if something were to happen to the primary data center, there are usually backup servers in separate locations which can be brought online. Public cloud solutions also offer better security than most organizations can implement on their own. Additionally, cloud services offer an added benefit beyond secure storage: Flexibility. With data accessible from anywhere, a business can mobilize employees in new ways.
Ford didn’t have a backup plan. However, Ford has the resources to resolve those situations quickly. Small- to mid-sized businesses may not have those resources. Having a reliable data backup and a plan means that a literal and figurative fire won’t shut down your operations. Furthermore, having a partner like Ascent Innovations, who is experienced in private, public and hyper-converged cloud technologies is essential to ensuring that your cloud solution works when you need it. Unlike Frank.