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Risk

10/14/2009
08:52 AM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Sidekick Failure Highlights Security Demands Cloud Customers Must Make

Whether or not Sidekick recovers from the data debacle that may have cost hundreds of thousands of customers their cloud-stored material, the disaster shows into sharp relief a couple of great and greatly unasked questions about doing business in and with the cloud: How confident can you be of your cloud service providers? How confident should you insist on being?

Whether or not Sidekick recovers from the data debacle that may have cost hundreds of thousands of customers their cloud-stored material, the disaster shows into sharp relief a couple of great and greatly unasked questions about doing business in and with the cloud: How confident can you be of your cloud service providers? How confident should you insist on being?The Microsoft/T-Mobile Sidekick data meltdown that may have wiped out contact and other information for a million or so customers raises some questions that I suspect we'll be hearing frequently in the weeks and months ahead.

How confident can you be that your cloud service provider is fully attentive to the protection of your data and its restoration -- not just to the provision of the service you signed up for?

Now, clearly, things happen -- there's no such as 100% foolproof.

Just as clearly, though, neither Microsoft nor T-Mobile are exactly small companies. Surely as they worked out the deal to provide Sidekick sync-storage via Microsoft's, in retrospect well-named, Danger servers, someone raised issues of backup frequency, restore points in the event of server crashes, something.

Sure they did.

And something went horribly wrong -- although at the moment nobody seems to know (or be willing to admit) exactly what the problem was. Explanations -- and buzz -- range from internal sabotage to massively coincidental bad luck.

Whatever.

The point is that evidently the main data and backup systems failed at the same time and there went the customers' data.

And therein lies one of the challenges as we move more and more of our resources -- and the lifeblood of our businesses -- to the cloud.

Disasters do happen -- and while we may not (please!) see one on the order of the Sidekick fiasco again, we will experience service outages, data issues, business failures, any one of which can be an inconvenience at best, a business catastrophe at worst.

My feeling is that the solution isn't to start blaming or, worse, fleeing, the cloud.

Rather, it's for cloud service customers to insist on and invest in local backup of critical data.

Counter-intuitive, I guess -- and certainly counter-cloud, but I have made the suspenders and belt argument before. Online backup and restore is a valuable and convenient service, for instance -- but if something goes wrong (and odds are, for some cloud services, it will), your local data will get you through the crisis.

That's a step toward real confidence in the your business's ability to thrive in the cloud -- and survive any cloud disasters, minor or major.

And that's worth a lot more than the measly hundred bucks Sidekick customers are getting offered for their "inconvenience."

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