Recovering data after leaving your Cloud service provider

05 March 2013 by Sam Wiltshire

Data storage in the cloudWhat is the most complicated issue regarding data recovery when leaving a Cloud service provider? Virtual infrastructures, which, on the face of it, can seem the most complex? Does SaaS (Software as a Service) seem so simple? They are, in fact, not the issues.

Choosing to leave a Cloud service provider can come about for various reasons. It depends, in part, on the services offered, and also on the service provider itself.

With regards to SaaS, two issues can arise:

  • Firstly, the software used by SaaS is either unique or so complex that it is impossible to extract without having to invest heavily in data recovery in order to migrate the software
  • Secondly, you are no longer satisfied with the provider responsible for the administration of your account and you want to change

The first issue can be resolved by analysing the situation before taking action. The second can be dealt with easily, as the more advanced Cloud platforms (and perhaps the most universal) are able to offer a ‘service change’ plan, allowing you to change to the agreed partner.

Recovering and making use of data: not as simple as it seems…

With virtual infrastructure, things are even more complicated. The first pitfall in changing service provider lies in the virtualisation technology employed by your platform (PaaS; Platform as a Service) or infrastructure (IaaS; Infrastructure as a Service).

Moreover, whilst data centres tend to want to expand their business by offering a range of virtual infrastructure hosting technologies (e.g. Xen , VMWare , Microsoft Hyper-V , etc.), changing technology when changing service provider can be complicated as well as costly. Hence, the simplest option is to recover the entire virtual infrastructure in its ‘native’ format, and transfer it ‘as-is’ to another service provider with the same technology.

Though even this last option isn’t all that simple. As well as the reallocation of server addresses, we have to take into account whether the version of the technology is the same? What does the contract state regarding data recovery costs? Could a back-up of the infrastructure suffice? When is the deadline? What happens in the case of a trade dispute? Is the data held with the former provider permanently erased once the contract is finalised?

Overall, data recovery is not the main problem. It is rather a question of the structure of the data once it is recovered and what is to be done with it after leaving a service provider, when this provider is more than just a simple SaaS service administrator.

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