Here’s why it’s a good idea for your business to at least stay partially grounded.

Your data is completely safe in the Cloud or with a 3rd party data center, right? Definitely NOT!

So, you have decided that the most administratively cost-effective way to run your business is to push it all to the Cloud and relieve yourself of a headache and capital costs associated with hardware. Good choice. If it makes sense for your budget, you should do it. However, you should do it intelligently. Having your head in the clouds is not always a bad thing as long as you are protected and grounded. Consider these scenarios before you stick your business out in the Cloud without a way to parachute back down from it.

What if you want to switch data centers or cloud provider services?
Many times cloud providers do not offer a simple method for transferring your data. Cloud-to-Cloud transfers are many times riddled with inconsistencies and many providers will charge stiff fees for the internet bandwidth needed to move your data to the new data center or cloud provider. In many cases, you must pull down the data locally to a piece of portable hardware before it can be sent to the new hosting company.

Getting this local copy of your data can prove difficult. Many data centers have strict rules that will not allow you to put your portable equipment in their facility in order to get your data off of their platform. There is often a fee associated with this. Additionally, even if getting the local copy is not the issue, you need to take into account the time needed to ship and load the data from the portable hard drive or Network Attached Storage (NAS) device onto the new data center’s equipment. While this transfer is taking place, your production files are changing because your employees continue to work and your business continues to operate. A synchronization of live data must take place after your data is moved so that everyone is working on the production data on the new system.

Having your own local copy can save you lots of trouble and free you from being trapped or having your data held hostage by a deteriorating relationship with your vendor.

What if your online data gets corrupted or deleted?
Data online can be corrupted in a couple of different ways. A virus, like Crypto, will encrypt all of your data making it useless. Data centers’ host servers can also have hard drive issues that cause file corruption.

Lots of data centers and cloud providers have a backup and you should be very aware of what that retention policy is for your data. The more data and servers you have, the more you will pay. If you only have a single backup of your cloud data and that data becomes corrupted it is very likely that you have a backup of your corrupted data, meaning your backup is simply a backup of the corruption! If you are going to rely on a single data center or a backup solution from a single provider make sure you have multiple weeks or months worth of that data.

We have also seen cases in which someone with access to the data center or the cloud providers console deleted data from production and then from the backup. This may happen accidentally or intentionally, so always consider who has access to your console. There is simply no recovery once you delete the data from a cloud provider’s backup. For example, Office 365 does not come standard with a backup. If you delete an email, it is gone! However, there are products that can handle this for you.

Is the integrity of your online data backups being verified?
You are paying for backup. It is part of your monthly agreement. The sales person sold it to you and it is a line item on your invoice every month. The day you need your backup and you contact your provider you will learn that the billing portion of your backup agreement worked like a charm. However, the actual setup of your backups was never delivered to engineering and you have been running without a backup for months since you signed the contract. How would you know?

Another situation we have seen is the following: Backups have been working great and communications are great. You get an email from your data center saying they are doing some “scheduled maintenance”. You think “No big deal, thanks for letting me know.”

A month later you learn that the scheduled maintenance was a massive server upgrade and guess whose data accidentally was skipped for backups on the new system? You got it…yours!

Make sure that your provider has some kind of test restore policy as part of their service offering. If they will not provide a repeatable scheduled test restore for you then, make sure you schedule a restore yourself with them at whatever interval you feel comfortable with.

How can you be completely sure that you are in control of your own data destiny?
The absolute best way to ensure that you have control of your own data destiny is to have a backup of your company data on your company premise. Ideally, you have a way to operate locally.

Even if that data is not a local working copy of your production environment, in terms of recovering your business operations, you can get things functioning a lot faster if you have the information you need. Time is money and the timing of your business is not as important to anyone else as it is to you.

Having a copy of your data in your building gives you the confidence to make the decisions you need to make. Being held captive by a data center’s “policies” or being the victim of their operational inefficiencies should never be the reason you do not succeed. So, in a technologically cloud-buzzed industry, where everyone is saying “just put it in the Cloud”, stay smart, consider these scenarios, and stay grounded. When you consider cloud backup, consider backing up the Cloud.