Fortunately most large enterprisesare doing very little mission-critical CRM work in a SaaS / Cloud application setup. Those that are have thought through disaster recovery. And those that have not certainly are now.
Do a thought experiment: what do you think would happen if every SaaS/Cloud application now in use went down for 48 hours? Would world commerce stop? Would US commerce stop? Would productivity dip? Would there be much turmoil beyond a lot of business-to-business sales people wasting a bit more time than usual over a latte and updating their LinkedIn? Beyond a few hi-tech US Stocks getting a shellacking? Would much happen, really?
Unless you are a software vendor selling subscriptions to SaaS-based CRM apps, you’ll probably have decided at the end of your thought experiment that life would go on for your business with little more than some inconvenience. Why? Because not much serious is happening with multi-tenanted SaaS apps. They aren’t driving reservation systems or inventory systems or credit card clearance or order management or payment systems.
In the Customer Service Contact Center space, most complex environments with high call volumes, high transaction volumes and real-time integration with legacy systems are still run in-house or at an outsourcer in protected environments with sophisticated backup and redundancy and other disaster recovery capabilities. Risk considerations and product immaturity have resulted in a situation where we are still in early days for complex environments.
Last week’s uncomfortable brush with the complexity of Cloud Computing is not fatal. It is likely a very good wake up call to IT that they need to intervene when a SaaS initiative goes beyond tactical and becomes mission-critical. It affects product selection in a way that the salesforce might not have thought of, or the marketing team, or the customer service manager.
The other good news is that, with little exception, the CRM-focused vendors have a good track record with uptime for both salesforce automation and customer service applications.
The bottom line for me is that Cloud Apps are no different than on-premise applications in the sense that for both you are responsible for understanding the complete story for uptime and disaster recovery. There may have been too much complacency on the part of the line of business decision maker, but that is not to say (for the most part!) that they have been ‘lucky.’ The vendors have a lot to lose if their systems experience unusual downtime or collapse. But don’t take my word for it: if you are considering using one of these applications for a mission-critical activity, have someone dig into the vital issue of continuity of service and disaster recovery for that solution. We have done a ton of research on this topic for the vendors we cover and are happy to help.
Diligence could save you your job.