IT professionals are well aware of the need to retain documents based on everything from regulatory compliance to corporate policies. What many don’t consider is that data migrated to the cloud still may require a backup plan.
A recent article in CIO Magazine makes this point:
He [Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research] says IT leaders should pay attention to the fine print in agreements with cloud providers, which often don’t provide timely or complete data backup.
If you consider what “the cloud” really is under the abstracted interfaces presented to you, the end user, you’ll see that it’s not all that different from a normal data center. There’s storage and compute and networking, just like a typical data center, and ultimately it’s all deployed on some kind of hardware – commoditized or commercial. Regardless, every piece of hardware comes with an MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) which, of course, means that at some point, it’s going to fail.
When it does, you’re probably still going to want your data. But what if it’s lost? Storage systems aren’t perfect, bits and bytes get lost or corrupted. In the data center, we attempt to mitigate this potential loss through rigid backup plans. We backup critical data offsite and do so regularly. An entire industry has grown up around this need – from tape storage to database replication to backup systems.
Moving to the cloud does not mean you can abdicate that responsibility. The same failures might occur, the same losses. You’ll want to consider how to mitigate that possibility just as you would if the data remained in the data center.
If you’re just starting on your quest to migrate data to the cloud, consider both the cloud provider’s ability to provide (and follow through on) backups, as well as the availability of external services that can back up that cloud provider’s data. There are no standards around any inter-cloud services, so you’ll have to do some research. Third-party backups are likely offered by partners of the cloud provider who’ve integrated with them through the same APIs you use.
If the cloud provider has limited support, note it and consider that you may need to find one that fits all your requirements – including being able to appropriately back up data.
Losing critical data is almost assuredly a negative for the business and, in some cases, can be a legal nightmare. Before migrating data to the cloud, take steps to ensure that your business’ data is able to be backed up.