But... before you all rush off and start backing up all your information over the internet a few words of warning. Well, its more like things you should ask the service providers BEFORE you trust your most precious asset, your information, to them.
1) Who can see my information? We live in an age where data loss is a fact of life and unfortunately 43% of all incidents are by third party providers. So, you need to know whether the service provider, who is the administrator of the system can see your data. In regular IT, the administrator is all powerful and so is able to read data from backups, or through applications is this something you can live with when your information is with the third party?
2) What would happen if the service provider lost some of your information? Perhaps they lost a backup tape, or maybe their systems have been compromised and your customer information has been leaked. You need to ask the service provider what their information protection policy is and furthermore, you should audit them on it. Do they encrypt their backup tapes? Do they have polices and applications to prevent information being copied to laptops, CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, iPods etc? What do they do to delete or destroy data when it is no longer needed?
3) Are you ok with co-location what does the third party do to separate information and systems? Could a competitor, who is also using the service, possibly get their hands on your data? In the cloud, where virtualisation rules supreme, you dont know if your data is on the same storage device, or your application is on the same server!
4) What happens in the event of data corruption? How many copies of the data does the third party have can you go back through the backups for the last week, month, quarter to find an uncorrupted copy or do they just have a single copy?
5) How easy is it to move from one provider to another? This is probably the most important question currently there are loads of service providers, and the prices are falling all the time, so you might think this is the equivalent of open systems and in some ways it is, lots of openness but actually, once you are committed to one provider you are locked in. So, the question you need to ask is how do I get ALL my data out and copied over to a new provider? Some providers are more flexible than others and help you in the process others will make you pay by the gigabyte and have to download it back to your servers before uploading it to the new service provider! Sometimes, cheap can come back to bite you.
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