“Capacity planning is crucial for cloud providers to have a good understanding of capacity and be able to predict it and deal with huge fluctuations in demand. Poorly planned capacity can lead to service disruptions and outages,” says Pramod Sharda, CEO – IceWarp India and Middle East.
Whether it is the recent outage of Microsoft’s cloud-based software application services like Microsoft 365, Outlook and Teams or Meta’s Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram or Gmail service going down in the past for hours or days. Instances of cloud-based software outages have become increasingly common over the years and now customers see it as one of the traits of SaaS (software-as-a-service) offerings.
While the issue of outages is purely from the SaaS providers’ side but the cascading impact it has is beyond just their customers as it leads to financial losses and business disruptions.
In this interview, Pramod Sharda, CEO of IceWarp India and Middle East, spoke to TechHerald on the technical causes of software service outages and how SaaS providers can deal with service outages. He also explained how IceWarp deals with outages and minimises as well as how businesses can prepare against unpredictable outages and reduce their impacts.
Q1. As more software providers take the SaaS route, which are the key 2-3 tech issues that often cause service outages or disruptions?
Pramod Sharda: Cloud computing has revolutionised the way businesses operate, but there are certain risks and challenges associated with it. Two of the main issues that can cause service outages or disruptions are — a lack of capacity planning and inadequate security measures. Capacity planning is crucial for cloud providers to have a good understanding of capacity and be able to predict it and deal with huge fluctuations in demand. Poorly planned capacity can lead to service disruptions and outages.
Inadequate security measures are also a major concern as cloud services are always vulnerable to cyberattacks. To protect the data and applications stored in the cloud, providers must have strong security protocols in place, such as encryption, authentication, authorization, and access control. Additionally, cloud providers should carry out regular backups and use the latest security patches and updates to ensure their systems are secure.
Q2. How do you ensure that IceWarp customers won’t face outages?
Pramod Sharda: IceWarp understands that outages can have a significant impact on its customers, which is why the company has put measures in place to try and prevent and manage outages. IceWarp’s robust infrastructure and enterprise-grade data centres help to keep outages at bay. All of the data centres are monitored 24/7, and in the event of an outage, the company’s engineers can rapidly analyse the cause and take measures to restore service as quickly as possible.
Additionally, IceWarp also makes use of a wide array of tools to help with preventing and managing outages. These include firewalls, load balancers, and various advanced technologies that help to identify any issues that may occur and quickly resolve them. Finally, IceWarp’s customer service team is available around the clock to help with any issues their customers may have.
Q3. From the SaaS providers’ perspective, what is your advice to software companies offering SaaS that can help to minimise or manage outages?
Pramod Sharda: As a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, it is important to ensure that your customers are provided with a reliable service. To minimise or manage outages for customers, IceWarp recommends that SaaS providers:
- Utilize a robust hosting provider: Select a hosting provider that offers reliable uptime and has a good track record when it comes to speed and stability.
- Monitor the system and performance: Monitor systems regularly and be proactive in identifying and addressing issues before they become a problem.
- Stay up to date with software and hardware updates: Regularly update the software, such as the operating system, to ensure that all security updates have been applied and that the system is functioning as expected.
- Have a backup plan in place: Make sure to have a backup plan in place with multiple redundancies to ensure that data is not lost in the event of an outage.
- Implement proper load balancing: If the SaaS solution is distributed across multiple servers, make sure that the load is balanced properly to avoid overloading one server and having an outage.
- Have a disaster recovery plan: Have a plan in place to recover from a disaster situation, such as a natural disaster or cyber-attack.
By taking these steps, SaaS providers can make sure that their customers are provided with a reliable service and minimize outages.
Q4. Lastly, can you brief us on how should businesses deal with outages and avoid disruptions in their organisations?
Pramod Sharda: Absolutely! Outages and disruptions can be incredibly costly for businesses, so taking the necessary steps to prevent them is essential. The first and most important step is to create and implement a comprehensive Incident Response Plan that details how to respond to outages and other incidents.
This plan should include identifying possible sources of disruption and outages, defining clear roles and responsibilities for responding to and mitigating outages and setting up procedures for identifying and communicating issues. Besides, establishing procedures for responding to, remediating, and escalating issues and setting up policies for preventing outages and minimizing damage when they do occur.
In addition to having an Incident Response Plan, businesses should also ensure that they have a reliable, secure, and up-to-date IT infrastructure. This includes keeping operating systems and software up to date, implementing strong authentication methods, and regularly testing and monitoring security measures.
Finally, it is also important to establish a culture of communication and collaboration between departments. This can help to ensure that when an outage does occur, departments can work together to quickly identify and resolve the issue. By taking all of these steps, businesses can reduce the risk of outages and ensure that they are prepared to respond quickly and effectively when the unexpected does occur.