Author: Nop Srinara
What nobody tells you about the cloud
Everything you’ve read about what Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based storage can do for your business is true -- to a point. It is often safer and cheaper to run cloud-based software applications than to use traditional, locally installed software. The cloud is safer, but not infallible. No software is fool-proof, not even software in the cloud, and cloud vendors have no incentive to point out their vulnerabilities. That sounds obvious, but common sense is often left at ground level when companies start operating in the cloud. Smart companies back up on-premise data. They do so because they don’t want to have a single point of failure for their irreplaceable information. That doesn’t stop being a good idea just because you move to the cloud.
The single biggest reason companies lost data before the era of cloud computing was hardware failure. A power supply overloaded, a motherboard shorted out or a hard drive crashed. Cloud vendors have legitimately solved this problem with massive, industrial-scale hardware redundancy. By copying your data onto several backup hard drives in several places, cloud vendors have made it nearly impossible for hardware failures to permanently destroy your information.
Cloud cannot save you from yourself!
The most common issue today therefore is user error, this, put simply, is when you tell Google or Microsoft to permanently purge a bunch of emails you don’t think you’ll ever need again, only to find out later you just erased valuable, legally required customer correspondence. It’s when you accidentally write over parts of this year’s sales spreadsheet with last year’s data -- and you can’t tell which fields are valid and which are completely wrong. Unfortunately, no software program can tell the difference between intentional and unintentional commands -- and not every action you take in the cloud has a quick undo command. The cloud can save your business from unreliable hard drives. It can’t save you from yourself. And neither can your cloud vendor.
In fact, user error is a huge cost centre for cloud vendors like Google or Microsoft, which have gone to huge lengths to ensure that their cloud software is reliable and that they will never lose your data. That means any data you lose was probably lost by you. Each vendor positions itself to encourage customers to solve their own data-loss problems, while avoiding undue responsibility if your data goes missing.
Why two clouds are better than one
Cloud-to-cloud backup is a service that replicates data in one cloud and stores the duplicate data in another cloud system. It’s different from cloud backup in that it does not involve any data stored on your local hard drive. Cloud-to-cloud backup systems are also optimised to restore data from backup directly back into the primary web application with sufficient speed and fidelity to minimise downtime and lost productivity. That second part is very important. All the reasons you moved your primary applications into the cloud are the same reasons you should move your backups to the cloud.
But why should the C Suite care? Here’s why:
As the Chief Information Officer of your organization, you are responsible -- literally, it’s there in the job title -- for not losing any of your business’s vital information. That job entails deploying security and disaster recovery solutions and policies, which in the case of cloud services depend greatly on cloud-to-cloud backup, as the risk posed by employees accessing the network from various devices, including their own virus ridden personal ones, is a very real risk.
Considering the consequences -- both fiduciary and regulatory -- of losing financial data, it’s easy to see why if anyone needs their data backed up and secure, it’s the Chief Financial Officer. Lost data equals lost dollars; the question is the exchange rate. Financial data is also often the most shared and the least safe, making it even more crucial to have your ducks in a row when it comes to back-up.
As the Chief Legal Officer, you understand why your organization is legally obligated to retain cloud data. As a cloud CLO, you must also understand the need for third-party cloud-to-cloud backup, which can ensure that lost data is back in place before you default on your own Terms of Service, SLA or contractual obligations. As CLO, your job is to ensure your organisation can live up to the “commercially reasonable efforts” that a contract promises to make in meeting deadlines and standards.
As the Chief Operating Officer, you’re charged with making sure that every process within, and every product of, your organization works smoothly. In this day and age, operations depend on data. A savvy COO can tell anyone on the spot the likely financial impact of any momentary slowdown or stoppage of work. If your cloud applications lose data, work is slowed or stopped unless and until that data is recovered -- and as COO you are largely responsible for the productivity figures affected by such data loss.
In one sense, you as Chief Executive Officer care about cloud-to-cloud backup for all the reasons the rest of C-Suite cares about cloud-to-cloud backup: because as CEO you’re ultimately responsible for everything. Experience proves that there are occasionally insurmountable regulatory, operational or security challenges around your company’s use of cloud-based applications. Cloud-to-cloud backup provides a contingency that allows your organization to re-adopt on-premise systems with speed and ease. That’s a backup plan every CEO can appreciate.
Ultimately, the only way for the cloud to live up to its promises is with cloud-to-cloud backup. Every member of the C-Suite should repeat that sentence as a mantra. Your cloud applications cannot and will never protect you from user error, but a cloud-to-cloud backup offers you a “get out of user error free” card to be played whenever your own employees corrupt, misplace or destroy vital business data. Smart executives understand the pros and cons of migrating to the cloud, but the smartest members of the C-Suite demand cloud-to-cloud backup.