You can’t outsource the risk of cloud storage

Now that could computing has become a mainstream option for secure storage, the few who still publicly question its security are having a harder time finding an audience.

Corporate accountants and executives love any idea that saves money, and their aversion to risk dwindles each time another big company jumps on the cloud bandwagon.

And there are plenty of IT managers who are happy to pass on the responsibility of maintaining servers for data backups if the executive team is open to a different solution.

The big drawback to cloud computing, at least in my opinion, is that you can only outsource responsibility to a certain level before the risk becomes intolerable.

And the question that very few corporate leaders are asking is: what happens when a failure occurs?

In this modern era where companies spend endless resources on consultants and lawyers to pinpoint blame, a case of “cloud collapse” would spark a witch hunt of epic proportions.

If you read through Amazon’s S3 Service Agreement you’ll find out that the responsibility for a cloud storage failure essentially evaporates into thin air.

Within this relatively simple one-page agreement Amazon has spelled out exactly what they will cover in the event of extended downtime.

If your corporate files and data backups are not accessible 99.9% of the time then your company will receive – hold your breath – a service credit. Try explaining that to your boss the next time your network crashes and you can’t access your backup data!

How much is the data you store on the cloud worth? You could also ask: what would you pay to recover these files if they suddenly disappeared?

The percentages are certainly in your favour that a company like Amazon will not lose your data. Just understand that if they did, you do not inherit any right to blame them.

They will be happy to honour their agreement and provide you with a credit towards your next month of service. And rest assured that a company the size of Amazon can issue service credits for as long as it takes for you to figure out your own solution.

Outsourcing IT work, which is essentially what cloud services offer, continues to be a popular strategy for increasing profit margins and diversifying risk.

It makes sense on a number of different of levels, but there is always a catch. The massive data centres that the top cloud providers utilise seem infallible from a redundancy standpoint, yet they are also prime targets for hackers and terrorists.

The bottom line is that nothing is ever too big to fail. Not to worry though, you are guaranteed a service credit if anything goes wrong.

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