Note: This article also appears on Talkin’ Cloud.
There are still plenty of people who aren’t ready to go all in on the cloud (for the purpose of this document, the cloud is a vendor’s Internet-delivered data center services). There are plenty that are moving workloads to the cloud—some have their entire production environment running in Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, or others. Why not go with the cloud when the costs are low, the hardware is often top-notch (not to mention elastic), and a lot of the maintenance headaches aren’t your concern?
The trouble is that going all-in in the cloud means that all of your or a client’s data is in one place and it’s not even a place you fully control. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t trust the cloud or cloud vendors to handle things on their end, but they’re prone to error as well. In fact, a partner of ours tells the story of his friend, who had a number of production machines running in a major cloud platform. The vendor’s cloud had some trouble and a large portion of data was deleted. The only thing the friend received was an email that essentially said “Sorry, but your data was deleted.” That’s it.
This tale isn’t meant to scare people away from the cloud. It’s meant to illustrate the importance of keeping any critical data in at least two places; one local, one in the cloud. This same partner said that because of situations like the one above, he won’t move a client into the cloud without backing up whatever it is they have there. Using StorageCraft Recover-Ability, this partner is able to backup VMs running in the cloud and save them at a client’s office. This satisfies various compliance requirements, and also ensures that if the cloud vendor is down or if data is deleted by mistake, a local backup is still saved onsite and can be spun up as a local VM so production doesn’t screech to a halt and data isn’t irrecoverably lost.
Since cloud vendors are sometimes reluctant to make guarantees about data integrity or your ability to recover data following accidental deletion or corruption, and since there’s no way to be certain your data is being backed up by Azure or AWS, it’s wise to keep backups in your own hands. If you can’t be certain they’ll take care of your or a client’s data, you can at least be certain that you will yourself. This covers you in the event that something happens to a client’s data. If you’re responsible for managing their systems, they’ll ask you why you the cloud went down—not necessarily the cloud vendor. Be completely sure their data is safe by storing it for them in a second location and making sure it can be recovered if needed. This will keep your client’s trust in your strong and your reputation solid.