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The concept of outsourcing your company’s data backup to a cloud service probably sounds simple. Just find a provider, make sure you’re comfortable with the costs and that they can store large amounts of data to the cloud — and then sign the contract. But when you are trusting a third party with something as important as your business’s data, the details of such an arrangement are critical — and not all cloud backup providers will serve you equally.
So, what are the details you should investigate with any company that wants to be your cloud backup partner?
Five things you should demand from a cloud backup provider — before you ever sign the contract
Because you are storing your company’s data outside your network, it is critical that the data is encrypted at all times — starting immediately, with its transmission from your onsite hardware to the cloud backup provider’s offsite servers. For this transmission, you should expect the highest standard available today, which is AES256-bit encryption. Also, only your company should have access to the encryption keys.
No matter what type of business you operate, you are likely bound by some sort of compliance requirement governing data security. Financial-services firms, for example, are typically regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Healthcare providers are governed by HIPAA. Make sure your provider can assist you with all aspects of the compliance rules governing your industry.
Any business can back up your data — but can they also restore that data if you lose it or experience some sort on onsite disaster? Can they restore it quickly and completely — even if the amount of data lost or corrupted is large? I have heard many stories over the years of businesses trying but failing to do a restore with their backup provider after a disaster. Ask your provider what they do to ensure your data is restorable, and how you can regularly do test restores.
Another important item to investigate is the type of retention the backup provider offers. Ask questions. Do they keep your data for a certain period of time, or indefinitely? How many versions of each file can you keep? If you delete a file from your server, does it get deleted from the backup? If your CEO calls you and wants a file back that he deleted two years ago, you’re going to want to make sure your backup provider can restore it for you.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to demand the highest levels of customer service from your cloud backup provider. That means a highly trained team of support engineers monitoring your data backups at all times. It means knowledgeable people available by phone, day or night, to help you if something goes wrong with your data. In fact, ideally it means a team of support engineers so knowledgeable and proactive that they can spot an issue with your data even before you do — and get to work addressing it.
Remember, a disaster can happen anytime, 24/7 — so your cloud backup provider should be available during those hours too!
Following these suggestions will help you make sure you choose the right provider for your needs.
Daniel Jacobson – Network Operations Manager for KeepItSafe
“Disaster Recovery Planning: Getting from Good to Great”