As companies and individuals come to rely on the public cloud for an increasing range of services, from infrastructure to applications, they often assume that no additional backups are necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth, argues Michael Davies, CEO of ContinuitySA, Africa’s pre-eminent provider of business continuity and resilience services.

“Last year, Microsoft Azure customers could not access their data for more than five hours when the cooling systems at a data centre malfunctioned. Many of those would have been businesses relying on their cloud provider to support their ability to conduct business 24/7 in a global business environment. There are many other such examples,” he says. “In order to be able to recover quickly, a separate backup solution is absolutely essential to avoid reputational damage and even possible data loss.”

Mr Davies argues that given the imperative to recover quickly from any disaster, and to build resilience into their operational DNA, companies need to ensure that backup is seen not as an isolated function but as part of an integrated business continuity plan. In this case, if a cloud outage occurs, not only is a backup necessary but the procedure for switching over to it must be well understood and, most important of all, regularly tested.

“Even if you have paid extra for a backup service from your cloud provider, it is seldom if ever possible to test the efficacy of the offering. Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Azure, for example, are simply too big to be able to run tests for individual clients, which means that you are still gravely at risk,” he says. “In addition, their service-level agreements typically are standard, and might not align with the client’s needs.

“It makes much more sense to entrust a specialist business continuity provider to undertake your backups, so the best technology can be used and the solution regularly tested so there are no unwelcome surprises, and the appropriate speed and extent of recovery can be specified upfront.”

Technology and connectivity advances now mean that specialist providers like ContinuitySA can offer backup as a service on a bespoke basis. That means that no capital costs are incurred, and there are none of the management, equipment, security, power, cooling and other costs associated with in-house solutions—it’s just one monthly account to pay.

“Backups that work and that are as close as possible to the point of outage are vital in any recovery. It makes the best business sense to work with a specialist provider using the as-a-service model,” Mr Davies concludes. “The cloud is a wonderful resource, but it’s not a substitute for professional, reliable backup.”

Additional information about ContinuitySA can be found at