Online marketing and social media tips for business from Shannon Belew, best-selling author of "Starting an Online Business For Dummies, All-in-One"
When it comes to the off-site hosting of your website and email, managing customer data, and storing files, images, music and more, there is the concern that someone else is essentially in control of handling your data. For many small businesses, that is exactly the reason that hosted web services and cloud-based solutions are appealing. These types of services make it easy and affordable to run your business online. You don’t need a team of in-house IT professionals to manage it. With this ease of doing business comes several potential problems – and the recent GoDaddy.com outage is a reminder of those business risks.
GoDaddy is arguably one of the largest hosted website providers and registrars of domain names. When its servers went offline, it caused a ripple effect for millions of small businesses who either hosted their websites with GoDaddy or used their nameservers or DNS records. Although a hacker initially claimed responsibility for the outage, GoDaddy has since “completed their investigation” and blamed an internal error for the problem.
According to a public statement from the company: “The service outage was not caused by external influences. It was not a “hack” and it was not a denial of service attack (DDoS). We have determined the service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables.”
To help ease fears, the company, which references a history of 99.999 percent uptime, went on to explain, “Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and GoDaddy.com. We have implemented measures to prevent this from occurring again.”
No matter the reason (or the eventual fix), the outcome was the same: Small businesses lost access to their websites and data, and lost many hours’ worth of real and potential sales and revenue. As a result of this wide-spread outage, many business owners took to social media to declare they would leave GoDaddy for good. Who can blame them for wanting to find a new solution? And, yet, leaving GoDaddy doesn’t ensure this will never ever happen to them, again.
It wasn’t that long ago that Amazon AWS (Amazon Web Services) suffered a substantial outage due to severe weather. That outage of the Amazon cloud took down some major players, including Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram. Even Google Gmail experienced downtime, affecting millions, worldwide. Each time an outage at this level occurs, it prompts concern over security in the public cloud.
That brings us to the problem with GoDaddy – and the problem for so many small businesses that depend on its services. Consider that GoDaddy’s primary (if not sole) purpose is to take care of data for businesses and make that data consistently accessible online. Regardless of the reason for this outage, it’s concerning that GoDaddy didn’t have a more reliable and immediate back-up plan in place. What about redundancy? What about security? It’s hard to understand what level of business continuity plan they may have had in place and why those plans failed, if GoDaddy chooses not to discuss it. But just the fact that millions of their customers, seemingly around the world, could be taken offline for nearly a full day is more than problematic for a web hosting company.
Where does that leave small businesses who depend on GoDaddy and others to deliver consistent, uninterrupted service? On one hand, it’s part of the risk that small businesses accept when using any type of off-site services or applications in the cloud. While some predict that outages and data comprise will only grow with the increased use of these service platforms, the overall risk still seems relatively low. However, it is a critical reminder for small businesses to have their own business continuity plan in place. That starts with something as simple as keeping your data backed-up (perhaps in multiple ways/places) and can be as extensive as creating a complete contingency plan that addresses a myriad of potential operational crises.
Are you a GoDaddy customer? If so, do you plan to stay or go, following the outage? More importantly, do you have your own business continuity plan in place to address these and other disasters? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Shannon Belew is an online marketing strategist & author of the best selling book, “Starting an Online Business For Dummies All-in-One” and founder of OnlineMarketingToGo.com