Coping With Downtime

No one online is immune to downtime. Whether it’s a hurricane, flood, fire or you just forgot to pay your monthly hosting bill, downtime will affect us all.

With greater reliance on cloud computing, we suspect businesses will be affected by unforeseen downtime (or as was the case with the Windows Azure downtime this last Leap Day, which unluckily kept our services from working for a few hours, wish-we-coulda-foreseen) that can wreak havoc on planned launches, services, or, in the retail environment, be very costly around the holiday gift-giving season.

The team over at HubSpot already has a few great ones — especially the first; why doesn’t every website have a cool site down page with their address and phone number?

Have a back-up plan
Whenever we don’t have internet access (think crowded WiFi at conferences) or our server goes down (very, very rare when using Azure), our system has the ability to access and print from the database that was synced locally via the last refresh.

Backup/sync often
While cloud computing does save us the hassle of being forced to repeatedly sync each client computing station (we typically have 2-4 set up for event check-in), it’s important to keep everything up to date, and it couldn’t be simpler for us. In our earlier days, frequent syncs saved us from downtime caused by local crashes, now our habit often insulates us whenever there’s a server or WiFi hiccup.

Remember the people
Whenever we have service outages, it’s often because of WiFi connectivity issues while large groups of people check in. While we certainly can’t control the local network — be sure to get to know the resident IT person before your event — we can make the best of it by not ignoring the attendees waiting to check in. Talk to the people in line. Help them plan the rest of their day. Listen to their concerns.

Because our smartphone app relies on WiFi connectivity to talk with our server and check-in/printing stations, we’ve found that a dedicated MiFi works very well in preventing any issues. Highly recommend that for any time you don’t have direct access to the local network’s setup screen.

See you in the cloud.