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Choosing a cloud backup service

The top five things to consider. By Greg Onoprijenko.

2012 was an amazing growth year for cloud computing services. Only a few short years ago analysts were struggling to predict cloud computing adoption trends. Actual growth percentages vary, but almost everyone agrees that cloud services are being embraced faster than anyone predicted. Leading the adoption of cloud computing services is cloud backup.

A cloud data backup service offers many benefits including:

a) Getting data offsite for disaster recovery purposes
b) Eliminating large capital expenditures for the purchase of the solution, and
c) Reducing the burden on your existing staff to implement and manage complex technology.

Most importantly, a proper cloud backup service can dramatically improve your organization’s ability to restore data during a severe outage.

Cloud backup services are not brand new, but the explosion of service providers in the last few years has made choosing the right service for your business a more difficult exercise. To assist you with your evaluation, I suggest using the following list of criteria when making your decision.

Here are my top five things to consider when choosing a cloud backup service:

Successful restore test: Does your service provider provide you with the ability to test their service before you commit?
Seeing the service work as advertised is a must. A lot of service providers backup the data just fine; just don’t ask them to restore it. You’ll be left woefully disappointed. Make sure that before you get locked into any payments, they prove to you that your data was backed up properly, and that it can be restored on demand. In this case, seeing is believing. Don’t wait until it’s too late to learn this lesson.

Customer references: Do they actually have happy customers?
Before you agree to let someone guard your critical data, ask to speak to someone who has experienced their service. If they can’t provide you with references, be very worried. Once you do speak to a customer, ask them about their service experience, about the last time they needed data to be restored, and about any hidden fees that may sneak up. It’s worth the 10 minute phone call. Trust me!

Proven data security: How will you know that your data will not get hacked?
Every week you hear another horror story about a company losing its customer data. Confidential information is compromised. You’re about to trust someone else with the protection of your critical data. You need to understand how they’re going to keep your data secure and equally as important, what happens in the event that the data does fall into the wrong hands. Find out ahead of time. Don’t wait until you hear about your information getting stolen while listening to the local news.

Proven technology: What are the products that power the service, and are they proven?
There are a lot of different backup software products out there. Some of them are reliable, and some of them are not. Just because a well-recognized product from a big brand vendor performs well as an on-premise data backup solution does NOT mean it performs well as a cloud service. Understand the software platform that powers the service, ask questions about the hardware infrastructure so ensure that it is fault tolerant, and ask questions about the data centre where the solution resides. Many service providers cut corners on technology and real estate to protect their profit margin, but you’ll end up paying the price in the end.

Communication: Does your service provider respond to you promptly and more importantly, do they communicate proactively with you?
Here’s a typical scenario: A customer signs up for a cloud backup service. For the first few weeks, both companies work together while the service gets installed. Once things are up and running, communication stops, the invoices keep arriving every month, but no one bothers to call to see how you’re doing. Ongoing communication is critical. Not only should the service provider respond promptly to support requests, they should be communicating regularly regarding backup reports, suggested retention policy changes, customer satisfaction surveys to ensure they are performing to your expectations, etc. Your business is constantly changing, so your service provider should be in tune with your ongoing requirements at all times. Make them earn their pay.

Put a little extra work up front in your evaluation to make sure the relationship is going to work long term. Your company deserves it.

Author: Greg Onoprijenko, e-ternity. Drawing on two decades of business experience, including senior management and executive positions at companies including Ricoh (then Lanier) and EMC Corporation, Greg’s focus within e-ternity includes managing day-to-day business operations, driving revenues from a sales perspective, and providing overall strategic direction for the organization.

•Date: 12th March 2013 • Canada/World •Type: Article • Topic: Cloud computing

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