A few years ago, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle had an interesting take on all the hoopla involving the Cloud. In his words, it was nothing more than a “computer attached to a network.” As we know, Ellison has changed his views quite a bit since then and Oracle is at the forefront of this cloud wave gripping the industry. The fact remains, Ellison was quite right in his initial views. In theory, the concept of cloud computing has been around forever. It took the creative geniuses on a marketing team combined with some pretty smart technology to productize it, and hey – you have the Cloud. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a basher and am in fact a big fan of cloud computing. Although like Ellison, I believe the technology has existed for quite some time and only now is getting the traction that it truly deserves.
It’s clear that cloud computing is quickly gaining ground among organizations looking to streamline their technology infrastructure and cut information technology (IT) costs. That’s all well and good until you start investigating how these same organizations are planning for disaster/data recovery. In fact, a survey that Kroll Ontrack conducted last year indicated that while 62% of survey respondents are leveraging the Cloud and/or virtualization, only 33% of these organizations test data recovery plans regularly to ensure proper protocols are in place to protect this data. Now you might ask, “Why is this important if you have someone managing your data?” Well, here are a few reasons…
1. Data that you host in the Cloud is not owned by your cloud provider, it’s owned by you
2. SLA (Service Level Agreements) are strategically authored to refute any responsibility or liability in the event of data loss
3. Your data center isn’t in your backyard anymore, it’s quite possibly somewhere on the other side of the country or world
4. The Cloud is a service aimed at preserving your data, not necessarily protecting it
5. Cloud computing doesn’t mean the underlying engine is exempt from failure
Kroll Ontrack has in fact seen multiple examples of customers that come to us because their cloud providers have turned them away in data loss situations. True story! In the same survey, when asked about their cloud provider’s ability to properly handle data loss incidents, 29% revealed a lack of confidence, though this was significantly lower compared to 55% of respondents in 2011. By my count, 29% is still a very high number. Only 17% of respondents revealed that they test their data recovery plan regularly to validate technical and personnel readiness against cloud or virtual data loss technical recovery capabilities and 13% responded that they do not have a data recovery plan.
The key to minimizing a data loss risk and successfully recovering from a loss is asking the right questions prior to adopting a new storage medium such as cloud computing and amending your policies and procedures accordingly. Ask yourself the following questions…
- Are my backup systems and protocols in place? Do these systems and protocols meet your own in-house backup standards?
- Does my cloud provider have a data recovery specialist identified in its business continuity/disaster recovery plan?
- What are the service level agreements with regard to data recovery, liability for loss, remediation and business outcomes?
- Can I share data between cloud services? If you terminate a cloud provider can you get your data back? If so, what format will it be in? How can you be sure all other copies are destroyed?
How frequently does your business ask these questions? How confident are you in your cloud provider’s ability to rescue your data in a downtime event?
Survey: Conducted at VMware Forums globally, 367 IT professionals participated in this in-person survey. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed represented enterprises, while 32 percent were service providers.