The Internet was originally a Department of Defense project designed to withstand outages and service interruptions. Still, some days it’s hard to load a single cat GIF. This is because the internet is unreliable. Or rather, the ways it is most commonly used are not reliable enough. But with a multi-cloud and offline-first approach, you can be prepared.
Consider the major cloud providers: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Dozens of dedicated cloud centers around the world are created and managed by companies with considerable expertise and many resources, on which are built a large amount of websites and mobile applications in the world. Yet, even if they experience severe outages or service interruptions (Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Azure publicly list some of their major outages).
Consider cellular service providers: T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon. A hurricane (like the most recent, Ian) can disrupt cell service for days. Severe Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can impede or damage the service. Cellular service is wireless, but cell towers use cables that accidentally get cut from time to time.
Consider home Internet service providers: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox. Outages can be caused by storms, cut cables, wear or faulty equipment. Outage reports for Comcast, for example, occur daily.
And finally, consider that the real world has Internet dead zones – places where the cellular and WiFi signal is either very unreliable or completely unavailable: airports, airplanes, remote areas (rural areas, mountainous areas, on a ship in the middle of the ocean, etc.) ‘ocean). I still encounter dead zones in underground parking lots and, more recently, in the back of a store in a mall.
How a multicloud approach can help
As consumers, we live with these problems and work around temporary inconveniences. For large-scale operations, however, even a small failure can have huge consequences. For example, Walmart calculated that a 100 millisecond delay results in a 1% drop in revenue.
But what can we do about it? Assume it will happen and be prepared. For example, when my home internet is down, I can connect to cellular data service (and vice versa).
What can you do when an AWS service goes down? Switch to Azure (and vice versa).
That’s what multicloud is: preparation. Of course, all cloud providers offer a number of proprietary services, which cannot be changed so easily (provider lock). So, for a multicloud approach to work, you need to research the open standards offered by all cloud providers and build on them as much as possible.
Kubernetes is one such technology offered by all major cloud providers. For databases, look for technology that can efficiently sync data between cloud providers as close to real-time as possible (with as little effort as possible). These tools also allow you to manage your own data center (if necessary) which can serve as a workaround for disaster recovery.
You’ll also get other multicloud benefits: price negotiation leverage and more data region options, to name a few. Yes, there are tradeoffs: these proprietary cloud services will be more difficult or impossible to use without carefully designed layers of abstraction.
And mobile apps? What should a smartphone app do when its backend API goes down or is unreachable? Keep the experience as seamless as possible for the end user. This can be done by saving the data locally on the device and keeping the new saved data in a local database until the connection is restored.
This is the heart of an “offline first” approach. Store and process data locally and synchronize it with your data center when internet connectivity permits. Do this transparently to the user. If they’re in an internet dead zone in the back of a mall doing inventory, it won’t matter. They stay productive and business continues.
Internet will fail. Cloud services will go down. Cellular service will drop. But if your organization expects this and plans for it, then your organization will be the one customers go to when your competition is jostling.
Focus on reliability with Couchbase
The unreliability of the Internet is one of the guiding principles of the products and services provided by Couchbase. Couchbase offers XDCR: cross-datacenter replication that replicates changes to your data in real time between datacenters, whether it’s AWS, Google Cloud, a datacenter in your headquarters or all three. Couchbase also offers Couchbase Mobile, which provides an offline first built-in database with automatic synchronization. These are all available with Couchbase Capella, a cloud database as a service you can try now for free.
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