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Cloud Insurance?

Cloud compute and cloud storage providers all have some form of SLA. We all hope they are buying quality back-end storage platforms to store their data on and that they are taking appropriate measures to protect that data, but how do we know? What's needed is a third party service that can make those assurances in a digital fashion.

The problem is especially concerning when you are using software as a service provider. For example, if you are using a provider to host your CRM or accounting application, what are you going to do if they go away one day or they suddenly raise their rates? Contrary to popular opinion, you can't simply turn off the service and go to the next guy --  they have all your data and more importantly, your history.

Some of these services, at an extra cost, will provide you with a backup, which is false comfort. Just like any DR situation, what good is the data without the application? I suppose you could run out and hire an Oracle programmer and dissect your information out of the database, but that is going to take some time and money.

The same holds true for storage service providers; how do you know for a fact that they are protecting that data? I speak with many cloud storage providers whose recovery strategies are just barely OK and certainly not perfect. These are companies that are holding your backups or archives, and if they lose your data when you need it most, you may be able to take legal action, but as I said in my last entry, that's not going to bring your data back.

What is needed is a cost-effective, third-party service that can hold a snapshot of the entire environment, data and the application. The service could interface with the cloud provider so that they could be one replication hop that is updated daily. You could log in to make sure your data is there but the secondary service would not be designed for real time access unless you declare the need to use it because the primary service is down or the relationship is ending.

While this would not allow you to recreate the service elsewhere it would provide you with historical access until you have the time to find a new service or bring the application back in-house.