Jun 07, 2011

What happens if my cloud provider goes out of business?

The cloud is a crowded marketplace with new vendors popping up every day. There are many good providers out there, but what happens to my cloud apps and data should I choose wrong, and pick a provider that later goes out of business?

Most software escrow providers have a SaaS Protect Service now. Just contact the top vendors... Iron Mountain, NCC...etc. to determine if there service meets your needs.
Hi beaker,

Others have mostly answered this question, but it occurred to me that it might be a good idea for you to talk to your chosen vendors about this very scenario. Ask them what kind of plans they have in effect to give your data back to you if they should go out of business. And, of course, ask about redundancies in terms of backups and service outages.

It's probably best to be direct with potential vendors about these questions. Don't wait until it actually happens. If you confront these issues up front, right away then you might just save yourself huge headaches later on.

This is a problem that cloud service providers should be dealing with for the long term. Incidents like this have already happened with sites like geocities and live.com, e.g. One option for providers would be to charge a fee for movable storage. Though, I think the best answer is for providers to use open source coding. If the cloud vendors apps are open source, then it's possible for any individual client to take over their own apps, or transfer them to another provider, by copying the code. That's one of the great advantages to open source, but it means a change in mindset on the part of providers and users. Users would have to respect proprietary ownership, and not simply steal a company's framework to make it their own, as in the Skype debacle. And, providers would have to be able to think of open source as an advantage (flexibility, cost-effectiveness, the potential for continuous development) as opposed to a proprietary threat. Linux is doing some good work in this way. Read more here: http://software.intel.com/sites/oss/linuxkernel.php?cid=cim:ggl|oss_us_linux|ks13136|s


You’ll want to choose your cloud provider carefully before making it the primary recipient of your company’s data. First, check out potential vendors thoroughly. They need to be a big enough company with enough money in the bank so as to appear safe from takeover or management changes, or relatively safe from shifting their core business away from cloud services if the competition gets tougher (because it will). Also they should have non-restrictive policies allowing you to easily access your hosted data, while providing encryption and tested security methods to keep your data as safe as possible from hackers; little things like enforcing a password policy _do_ make some vendors safer than others from outside threats. Third, you’ll want to make regular on-site backups of your off-site hosted content. There’s nothing more frustrating than a vendor outage that lasts several days, when your business needs to deal with your customers TODAY. Recent outages at Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, Vmware Cloud Foundry, and Amazon EC2 should be a lesson that decision-makers at those companies need to provide adequate redundancy in their networks, and your company should have contingency plans prepared for situations when their services are unavailable.

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