The purveyors of cloud solutions helped to keep their customers' businesses up and running during and after Hurricane Sandy – even now, actually, as parts of the east coast still wait patiently to get their lights back on. Even if the customer wasn't physically within the affected areas, their cloud services may have been hosted in the worst hit regions, but still, business continued.

It's a lesson to be learned about business continuity and disaster recovery. Although some data centers were affected, bringing down various popular websites, cloud data centers with the right redundancy in place or a good amount of forethought to transfer customer data and apps to a secondary data center remained up and running. Even as fuel reserves started to fall short, cloud providers proved that a good plan will keep services, and therefore businesses, running even as more traditional IT fails.

Cloud providers were also key in helping the east coast get back online in general. And now in the wake of Sandy, businesses are casting a more curious eye towards business continuity and disaster recovery solutions. Although there are still skeptics, some business owners and IT decision-makers are coming around more fully to the way of the cloud and looking to cloud services to keep their business-critical applications up and their data accessible even in the worst situations.

A key lesson learned is to build redundancy right into a cloud data center, as well as put in automatic failover, according to 8x8, a cloud communications services provider. Whether the channel is looking for data centers in which to house their cloud services or acting as a cloud broker for others' cloud services, it's now even more important to do due diligence on the redundancy, failover and general business continuity offerings.

Having redundancy spread out over different regions so they can't all be affected by the same disaster (one hopes, anyway) is also key to a proper business continuity plan. After facing significant downtime because of Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters over the last few years, customers are bound to start demanding more from their providers and asking more poignant questions. Be prepared to answer them.

Take a look at Triada Networks' recent post, which noted one of the cloud casualties in downtown New York City. The cloud may be the right solution for a business, “[b]ut at least for one colleague, their cloud phone system was run out of a datacenter in downtown NYC which was completely out,” according to the company. Redundancy and failover elsewhere in the nation might have made that a non-issue.

A business with no access to apps and data is a business that isn't making money. Businesses can't do much, if anything, about cell service downtime, power failures and Internet connectivity issues, but they can take learn about and take the proper steps to give them the best chance of staying in business should another disaster strike. Cloud will be the answer for many.

There are more and more services on the market to make it easier to keep businesses up and running, particularly if a business is geographically diverse. Take the Kii Cloud mobile-backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) offering as a good example. The service was developed to make it easy for mobile apps developers to embed cloud services in their apps. Developers can use it to take existing apps and make them cloud- and mobile-ready, making them even more accessible.

The point is there are lessons to be learned about business continuity and disaster recovery – and the cloud can help provide options for your customers.