Preparing for Cloud Outages: Why You Should Have an Offline CRM Client

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Weather channels nationwide have reported that the last 12 months ending in June 2012 were the hottest ever recorded. But it’s not just the weather that has been hot. Cloud outages have been heating up recently.

(Note: If you’re not using a cloud service for your business applications, outages mean that the online system goes down for hours, or possibly days at time. Lack of accessibility can create tremendous challenges for business people trying to complete their work.)

These outages are making news because the providers are not small startups or unknown companies that don’t have their acts together. If you keep up with IT news, you have seen articles about cloud outages for many of the major cloud providers out there (including Amazon, Salesforce and Microsoft). Cloud skeptics try to use these outages as proof that moving things to the cloud is unsafe and unreliable. I don’t advocate for all business solutions and processes to run in the cloud, but I do see its place as an option if it makes sense for the needs of a particular business.

The cloud and reported outages are news because these datacenters are massive.  When your network server goes down, you don’t normally issue a press release announcing anything. Additionally, the number of people impacted is likely small when compared to a datacenter for any of the large cloud providers who can have millions of frustrated customers. 

Cloud providers say that service disruptions will happen, so a business needs to be prepared just as it would be if its local network went down for a day. Most reported outages tend to be for hours or days, and the timing of that might mean little or a lot to your business. What makes these recent cloud outages different and newsworthy is that it’s not one company with a small number of users, but potentially hundreds or thousands of companies and their users all at once.

As far as it pertains to cloud CRM products, one thing to consider is whether or not your CRM solution supports a truly offline client (as with Microsoft Dynamics CRM), so that when the service goes down for minutes, hours, or days, you have a way to access your data, run reports, make updates, and continue working, albeit offline.

Bottom line: Being in the cloud is a great option if it makes sense to your business, but realize that the service will go down at some point. When it relates to your CRM solution, having a fully functional offline client makes it possible to keep working until things cool down.

By Ray Beste of Sikich, a national CRM and ERP Gold Competency partner and full-suite provider of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV  and Microsoft Dynamics SL

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