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Service Outages and the Dangers of Relying on the Cloud

The growth of cloud services has been heralded by many as being a major step forward. It increases the access to those services drastically, by allowing you to connect to them from any computer, anywhere. But recently there have been major outages of some of the biggest services on the web and these have illustrated the weaknesses of the cloud, and in part some of the risks of relying too heavily on the cloud for your services.

In the last few weeks there have been outages of some major services on the web. These include services from Microsoft and Google, with even Google Docs and Office 365 being unavailable for a short period of time. This meant that any documents that were created with or held by the Google Docs service or Office 365 could not be accessed. Though the outages in services did not last for particularly long, it could have had dire consequences for users who were relying upon it.

Both Google Documents and Office 365 provide incredibly valuable services. Both offer word processing, and both may be used by businesses or individuals. Office 365 is specifically targeted at businesses, with licenses being sold for multiple users in a small business and is intended to be a replacement for traditional office packages, allowing the user to work online on the service instead of working more traditionally on the local computer.

What would have happened if you had been relying on the cloud to deliver up an important presentation for a meeting that you were heading up? The inability to access the tools for a meeting could cause delays, or worse. It may cost your business a deal that they are hoping to secure, or may cost an individual his job for not being better prepared. 

Those people for whom having access to their documents at all times is essential may wish to consider a backup plan. Though cloud services are useful for providing the ability to collaborate, the weaknesses that they face may also mean that they are unsuitable for businesses and for those people for whom outages will be unacceptable.

Standard office packages such as Microsoft Office, combined with online tools such as email services and instant messengers can be used for collaboration. With the one off purchase of the office suite you are left with the tools that you need to create and edit documents and presentations, and documents can be shared via email or over a network for changes to be made.

Standard office software may even be combined with cloud services, using the cloud to share, collaborate and edit your documents. By simply making a local copy of your documents as well, you ensure the ability to continue working offline when the cloud is not available to you. 

At least until the cloud services on offer become a little more robust and a little more guaranteed to not suffer outages, sensible precautions should be taken to prevent you from losing your work.

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