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Cloud Data Storage Hardware

What Happens To Data When a Cloud Provider Dies? 262

Lucas123 writes "When cloud storage providers shut down, as four have done in the past year, users are left wondering how they'll get their data back and whether they'll be able to migrate it directly to a new service provider. More importantly, analysts say, what guarantees do they have that the data stored offsite will be deleted after the shutdown. Currently, there is no direct way to migrate data to another provider, and there are no government rules or regulations specific to data managed by cloud storage providers."
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What Happens To Data When a Cloud Provider Dies?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:33AM (#35941922)

    As if people weren't losing any data when "the cloud" was called "shared hosting".

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:33AM (#35941926) Journal

    You take your chances if your hosting your data somewhere outside of your control. Unfortunately, when any company goes broke, customer concerns tend to go out the window as the major creditors swoop in to grab what value they can.

  • Risk Reward... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:34AM (#35941940)

    A cloud based form of backup or duplicates can only be one leg of a system to protect data. Gotta have at least 3 legs to stand on.

    The reminder that 4 services closed in one year is fair warning.

  • by sheepofblue ( 1106227 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:36AM (#35941972)

    The cloud has immense uses but "trust me" is not something you ever want to here from the government or a company. Anyone that puts there assets out in the ether with no alternate location is asking for trouble.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:37AM (#35941978) Homepage

    Right on spot. If you give your data away, you give your data away. It is not yours anymore. What the providers guarantees while online dies with the company as people are busy updating their resumes. Whatever means you may have to get to them (legal for example) is usually moot as well since the company is no more.

    What you have on YOUR hard drive, on YOUR dvds, YOUR tapes is in YOUR control. Note that it is not necessarily better.

  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:42AM (#35942054)

    I'd think these issues are general so far as storing your data "anywhere but here" is concerned.

  • by MagikSlinger ( 259969 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:43AM (#35942072) Homepage Journal

    Dear Cloud entrepreneurs and VC's:

    If you are wondering why businesses aren't trampling themselves to go to a public cloud, here is half your answer. The other half was the Amazon outage. A CIO does not like depending on an outside company for his uptime metric. He wants total control. If there is an outage, he wants HIS people on it reporting to HIM. He doesn't want to go back to the CEO, "the cloud provider is working on it and there is nothing I can do to make it go faster."

    If clouds happen, it will mostly be private clouds under the company's control. Sure it may not have as high uptime or be more expensive, but at least it's under their control. You surrender control going to an external cloud.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:57AM (#35942268) Homepage

    That information is my personal property.

    It is the government that usually sorts out property issues (and contract issues). There is a VERY long history of this.

    Sorry to rain on your psuedo-libertarianism parade but the government is exactly the right entity to help sort this out. This is a simple property issue.

  • Re:Migration (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @11:19AM (#35942564)

    Meh apis blah blah. When the shared hosting was at its peak during the second dot-com boom, you had at least several flavors of unix, several versions of apache with minor api differences, various databases with various options compiled or not compiled in, gd with or without gif support, and don't even start me on the php or perl module availability. Migration was as much a nightmare then, as it is now.

    And the "big issue" was the same then as now -- in the end, the data is the responsibility of the entity that needs it most. It is a safe assumption that no one else will care about your data but yourself. It is also a given that the SLA will have a liability limitation that will top at what you have actually paid.

    The rest is just bullshit and sensationalism.

  • Answer: TBD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @11:21AM (#35942586)

    In my experience, non-IT companies are falling all over themselves to move to (at the very least) hosted IT services. The true answer to this question will come out when the first major provider flames out. Think about this with a cynical eye towards the situation. CIOs and other decision makers are under immense pressure to cut costs, especially in companies where IT is not seen as a strategic investment. For every software company or non-IT company that uses IT to its advantage, there are 10x as many who use IT for file/print/email only, and see it as a cost like paying the janitor and building staff to keep the place running. Cloud providers win business by doing a shiny PowerPoint with animated graphics showing all those power-eating servers and local IT staff fading into "the cloud." At the same time, they promise the ability to get rid of your IT staff and replace the current IT spend with a monthly charge that can be completely written off as an operational expense. MBAs are seemingly taught on Day 1 that human resources are a necessary evil to be minimized, and that operational expenses are preferable to fixed asset spending. Therefore, this PowerPoint resonates with them and the decision is made.

    The problems come behind the PowerPoint. Every IT problem the business had before now becomes the provider's problem, including data storage/retention, bandwidth issues, server provisioning and all that stuff. How well does it work out? Everything depends on the competence of your provider. Even with ironclad SLAs in place, (a) Really Bad Stuff can still happen that makes them null and void, and (b) SLAs are only a piece of paper guaranteeing you free service or a payment in the event of an outage.

    Any business considering The Cloud needs to think of the following:

    • Do I trust my provider to handle my data? Is there anything so proprietary that I wouldn't mind having exposed on the Internet by a disgruntled cloud provider employee?
    • How much does it actually cost me to be down for X minutes? Am I willing to pay to have the provider properly architect the solution to work around this or am I willing to eat that much money? Is any SLA they can provide me going to compensate me for the full losses that downtime generates?
    • The Cloud can also be achieved locally through server consolidation, investing in more flexible network infrastructure and increasing internal operations efficiency. Would I be more comfortable doing that?

    (If this sounds like the list of questions to ask when considering an outsourcing agreement, it is. Cloud is just IT outsourcing without a directly accountable staff at the provider.) Businesses who want data integrity and decent service need to realize that they have to pay for it, just like they do in a traditional outsourcing/hosting scenario. If a CIO chooses to go with the equivalent of GMail for their internal messaging, just 'cause it was cheaper than the fully-hosted, DR'd, off-site backed up, SOX-compliant managed email service, then they deserve what they get.

  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcavic ( 2007672 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @11:54AM (#35942990)

    the cloud is just a new name on an old concept

    Pretty much. And the increased visibility means it's now being used by people who don't understand the need for a backup.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton