Power Outages at Public Cloud Data Centers: How to Mitigate Risks

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Click to learn more about author Ashok Sharma.

A public cloud is a computing facility that makes resources accessible by service providers for the community through the internet. Resources include storage capabilities, applications, or virtual machines. Public cloud allows for scalability and sharing of resources that would be impossible for a single organization.

Public cloud services allow businesses to utilize IT facilities without operating the underlying setup on-site. Instead, the service provider’s responsibility is to smoothly deliver an undisrupted operating environment following the agreed Service Level Agreement (SLA).

To continue undisrupted services of the public cloud, it is essential to have a strong power backup in case things don’t go well. Power outages at public data centers are the last thing anyone would want. There are many unforeseen reasons that power outages could lead to failure in delivering services. 

Many organizations are dependent on some cloud service to smoothly execute their business processes, which means cloud service providers are expected to deliver services around the clock uninterruptedly. With such demanding tasks – where information is available in the blink of an eye – there is no room for a cloud outage.

Any cloud service provider or enterprise can fall prey to an outage: In 2017, for example, even major cloud service providers including IBM, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and Apple all experienced cloud outages.  

Let us find out how many potential risks could be avoided with proper planning and management. Below are a few key steps to mitigate risks associated with power outages and help you keep IT systems up, running, and secure.

A Well-Planned Power Management Strategy

Both your administration at the data center and IT support teams must safeguard good battery and generator backup resources. In addition, staff handling emergency situations should be fully aware of their roles and responsibilities.

A good option would be to keep an alternate site for the data center to cope with disaster recovery. This way, if the primary site experiences failure, the alternate site should take charge and operate to keep the process running.

A good power backup plan requires the latest IT equipment that needs an undisrupted clean supply. Unfortunately, this is not the case with commercial sources since they require prior conditioning and filtering. 

Therefore, data centers must be equipped with infrastructure that minimizes irregularities in power supply like fluctuations in voltage and frequency fluctuations, surges, and blackouts. 

  • Risks associated with data center power outages can be mitigated through commercial power supplies drawn from different paths 
  • This could bear high costs, causing many companies to contact third-party data centers that can fulfill the demand

Precedence to Security and Compliance 

Cloud services offer a variety of benefits if used appropriately. If misused, they can prove to be a gateway for adversaries to exploit vulnerabilities in the system, resulting in security breaches. Every business must have a provision offering security measures and automation tools that save you time. 

  • Choose a cloud service provider that incorporates a comprehensive data security and compliance mechanism
  • You can double-check with certifications and accreditation to save yourself from false claimants
  • The best way to do this is by doing extensive research on vendors that go for a manifold approach to physical and cybersecurity
  • An excellent example of a multi-layered security system would be monitoring systems

Protection from Natural and Man-Made Disasters

Natural calamities can harm your data; therefore, it is important to have a secure place to store it. Similarly, with man-made disasters, the risk is low, but you need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Classify SLA (Service Level Agreements) Requirements 

SLA is an agreement between a cloud service provider and the client ensuring service maintenance at minimum levels. It guarantees levels of the following:

  • Dependability
  • Accessibility
  • Responsiveness to systems and applications
  • Assigns administrator during times of service interruption
  • Defines penalties when falling short of meeting service levels 

 SLAs described at different levels are mentioned below:

  • Customer-based SLA
  • Service-based SLA
  • Multilevel SLA

Businesses need a proper evaluation of SLA requirements depending on the cost associated with service downtime and workloads. A public cloud perhaps might not be a good alternative for security and mission-critical IT workloads. This is because there may be SLA requirements specifically to meet supervisory compliance standards. Therefore, SLAs should be meaningful in terms of the following:

  • Effect on business operations
  • Objectives, income, and returns
  • Opportunities and other relevant business indicators

If a SLA is formulated to maintain performance standards, then crucial metrics like downtime will have a negligible effect on customers and end-users.

Introduce Strategies for Redundancy and Multi-Cloud Policy

One way cloud computing lets organizations mitigate the risks of power outages and downtime is by introducing redundancy to their approaches dealing with IT setup. Redundancy works on the principle that if one instance of a server fails to execute due power outage, the job can be moved to another server instance. If the entire data center suffers a setback, data is replicated on data centers positioned at different geographical locations.

The power of redundancy is further supplemented through a multivendor cloud strategy. The strategy involves the coupling of services from multiple cloud providers. For example, during a power outage affecting the primary cloud provider, the cloud service from a secondary vendor can serve as a remedial measure to ensure business workflow continues.

Moreover, a multi-cloud policy reduces the risk of vendor lock-in and creates scope for businesses to optimize their public cloud investments. The optimization is used by harnessing features such as:

  • Backing
  • Consistency
  • Price 
  • Other significant factors affecting business choices

Testing for Cloud Outages

Try testing as much as you can. This is one measure that will never fail you and will prepare you for an emergency. The reason for cloud outages can be external (malicious attacks), or internal (insider threats, or a harmless system update). It is always better to conducts trials and tests for defining a plan for any situation, since an outage can be prevented most of the time.

Benefits of testing for failure:

  • You can test the viability of a response plan or storage migration process
  • Swift reaction or response to an incident goes a long way
  • The cloud is the best ground for testing for failures since it is a pre-determined setting
  • Organizations can do system replication in a proposed layout to test production and study its performance in different situations

Regular System Maintenance 

Consistent testing of data center infrastructure is critical to ensure high accessibility, which includes:

  • Regular inspections
  • Planned testing of primary backup power resources operating with full electrical loads
  • Following the guidelines laid by the equipment manufacturer
  • Benchmarking performance over time

Testing your infrastructure at specific times, such as quarterly or annually, allows you to identify and address potential problems. This way, you will be prepared to sustain business workflow in a better manner.

Update Maintenance Processes

Dynamic systems like data centers have the latest infrastructure components and setups being updated all the time. Therefore, having detailed maintenance documentation is necessary for carrying out data center operations.

Evaluate Your Communication Strategy

Apart from testing mechanisms, a communication plan should also be put to trial. This plan should ensure whether the communication strategy fits your disaster recovery and business workflow efforts well. 

  • In case of an outage there should be an internal communication strategy laid out for employees
  • An external communication plan for clients or investors
  • The plan should be re-evaluated annually or quarterly
  • Communicating information during an incident and tracking the progress with relevant parties is crucial in preventing a cloud outage
  • It is vital to consider backup communication methods
  • If a cloud platform is your primary portal of communications, then keep a secondary method of communication if that portal suffers an outage
  • Internal alerts can be conveyed through email, overhead building paging systems, and voice or text messages

 Following these steps could protect your business and customers from long-term overheads.


Power outages in public cloud data centers happen without any prior intimation or notice. As a result, it is vital to understand the risks involved and to ensure the necessary measures are taken to limit damage. 

Organizations should follow a well-planned approach for mitigating risks associated with public cloud outages. Solutions that prepare you for unannounced threats and unpredictable service downtime are the best options.

IT outages can have long-term impacts, which are evident from numerous companies not fully recovering from extended outages. This further makes planning and preparation all the more significant. 

With the right strategy, measures, and systems in place, businesses can alleviate downtime risks and ensure that they stay linked with their consumers, business partners, and employees.

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