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1/25/2010
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George Crump
George Crump
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Get Data Out Of The Cloud

As the Cloud Compute and Cloud Storage markets continue to mature, some of those vendors are going to go out of business. It is the natural order of things. The strong (or well funded) survive. You either need to be very sure that the cloud vendor is not going to be one of those that does or you need to make sure you are getting your data out of the cloud on a regular basis.

As the Cloud Compute and Cloud Storage markets continue to mature, some of those vendors are going to go out of business. It is the natural order of things. The strong (or well funded) survive. You either need to be very sure that the cloud vendor is not going to be one of those that does or you need to make sure you are getting your data out of the cloud on a regular basis.Predicting those that are not going to fail could be a tall task. Impressive facilities and row after row of storage and servers are not really a great indicator. The only real gauge should be how long have they been in the business of storing or processing external customer information. With few exceptions anything more than a few years of experience is all you are going to find. That means you need to take further steps.

Failure of the organization is not the only reason to get your data out of the cloud. What if the cloud provider's data protection practices are weak and they loose data that can't be recovered? Sure you can take legal action but if your data is gone, its gone. What if your business relationship sours, or you suddenly can't afford to use the service. Your organization may also be purchased by an organization that is not using the same cloud services as you or may not use cloud services at all. You may very quickly need to roll out the service internally or move to another service.

If you are using cloud storage as a way to store backups, archives or to collaborate on data, having an extra copy within your control should be straight forward. There are ramifications however. If you are using the cloud to store long term backups, make sure you have enough local data to cover any retention needs you may have. In archive it is a little bit more complex if the cloud is your archive, you want that to be your only copy of data on purpose. Here nailing who that company is is critical.

The cloud compute or software as a service side has a different need. Getting data out of the cloud on a frequent basis to protect you from any of the earlier mentioned scenarios is critical. Most cloud compute or software as a service will have an option to export data or burn DVDs for you. Take advantage of that. Some companies will charge you extra for that so make sure you know what the ramifications are.

Finally there are a few companies that are beginning to offer cloud assurance services. These companies will replicate your entire environment to their facility, sort of a cloud escrow. What's more important is that it is a copy of the entire environment, not just the data. In the event of something going wrong with your cloud service provider you simply point your browser to a new location and your back in business.

In either situation, don't assume that just because your data is in the cloud that it is safe. Understand the company you are trusting with that data and what their policies are in protecting that data.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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