Can You Get Your Data Back From The Cloud When You Need It?

Restoring data is a critical component of any disaster recovery planning initiative. You need to ensure that in case of a disaster or any unforeseen occurrence that requires you to recover your data; you can bring it back on line in a time frame that meets your business needs.


A few weeks ago, Amazon suffered several days of outage in its EC2 and RDS service, bringing down dozens, if not hundreds of services along with it—including such high profile sites such as Reddit, Heroku, Foursquare, Quora and many others. Although the cause of that outage has been analyzed extensively in many other places, the discussion is interesting and relevant because it brings attention to the lesson that wherever or whomever you entrust your data to—be it in the “cloud” or to a big company like Amazon—it still pays to be smart about how you manage your data—especially if it’s critical to your business.
Understand your options. When someone else is managing your data, it’s easy to leave the details to them. However, making sure that you at least have some understanding of what your different options are as far as what different service providers can offer you—so you can make an informed decision about your backup options, can pay dividends later on when something does go wrong. Things you should look at include who is the service provider? What is their history? Who is behind them? What is their track record? Where do they store your data? Do they own the servers where your data is stored or do they rely on someone else? Is it stored within the local area (ie a drive away) or is it distributed all over the map? Do they provide a mirror of your data within your own server or is everything in their data centers? What measures do they employ to make sure your data is safe? What methods do they employ to ensure you can get to your data when you need it? Do they provide service level assurances or guarantees to back up their claims? These are just some of the basic questions you should be asking and understanding from your service provider.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Some service providers provide users with the option of storing data in multiple sites—to ensure that your data is safe even if one site goes down. But why rely on just one service provider when you can also get the services of multiple providers instead?
List all of your functional applications

Where Stored
(Local or Cloud)
How long can you function without it.
Contact Database (CRM)
Electronic Files & Folders
Document Management
Portfolio Management
Client Vault
Performance Reporting

Create a plan and write it down. Unforeseen occurrences can and will happen—not only at your side but that of the service provider as well. When it does, have a contingency plan ready. Make sure to write it down and to communicate it to everyone so they will know what to do in case disaster strikes.
Do a test drive. Often you will not know how exactly a service works until the rubber hits the road so to speak. Ask your service provider for a demo or a trial period. Test how fast it is to back up your data but more importantly how fast you can bring it back when you need it. This is especially important if you are talking about gigabytes of data. Understand that doing backups in the cloud can be hampered by your bandwidth, among many others.
Because cloud computing and storing your data in the cloud is the topic du jour nowadays—with its promise of unprecedented efficiency, reliability, scalability and cost savings—its sometimes easy to overlook some of the basic due diligence one must do regardless of how or where your data is stored. Ultimately it is your business on the line—and being prudent and proactive about how your data is stored, managed but more importantly how you can recover it in times of need, can perhaps save you much grief later on when you actually need it.

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