As retailers add more web applications to their operations and store tons of web data, “cloud” services become more popular. Using cloud-based computing makes sense because it can store as much data as a retailer has, but it can come with its own risks, particularly if the host’s servers go down, like Amazon Web Services did in late June 2012 due to strong storms in the eastern United States.

As a safety precaution, Amazon has data transmission switching equipment, which can transfer power to back-up power generators. During the storm, not all of the switches in the data center worked properly, causing serves to go down. That meant retailers did not have access to their information.

One solution is the keep the most important applications with a site operator who has a backed-up data center. This way, if the cloud service provider has technical issues, it won’t impact the retailer’s ability to do business. A second solution is to ask for special back-up from the cloud provider.

As you move to cloud computing, speak with your service provider on how to avoid glitches and problems that could affect your reputation with consumers.

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