9 things you need to know before you store data in the cloud

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

"Often there are additional charges for activities such as 'put and get' (sending your data to the cloud and getting it data back), DR testing associated with your service and boosting bandwidth beyond a specified limit," Burns says. "It's best to do some costing models comparing your existing solution and the full costs of a cloud service before jumping into the cloud pool with everything you have."

7. Don't overbuy storage. "Determine the appropriate amount of storage for your organization's current and future needs," says Jeff Erramouspe, CEO of backup provider Spanning Cloud Apps. An IDC study showed that most businesses experience between 40 to 60 percent growth in data volume annually. So, you can keep buying more storage terabyte by terabyte, unless you have a per-user pricing plan," he says. Moreover, "in choosing a per-user plan that doesn't limit your storage consumption, your annual pricing is much more predictable. You always know how many users you're going to have, you rarely know how much storage you're going to use."

"Avoid buying more storage than you need," says Hubert Yoshida, CTO, Hitachi Data Systems. "Data centers decline in price by about 24 percent per year and thus buying with a pay-as-you-go model will drive cost effectiveness and efficiency," he adds.

8. Make sure you can recover/restore your data. "When you're looking for a backup provider, don't forget to think about the other part of the equation -- recovery," says Pete Lamson, senior vice president at storage provider Carbonite.

"Before you commit your data to a vendor, find out how quickly you'll be able to get it back in the event of data loss or disruption, what the restore process looks like and what kind of support you can expect to receive if you run into any issues," Lamson says. "This will help you set expectations for the business and can help you minimize downtime."

"Many services make backing up easy but restoring data quickly and efficiently can be difficult and costly," says Aaron Saposnik, infrastructure solutions consultant, SWC Technology Partners. "Check if a vendor will send you a hard drive with your data or allow easy data restore (and if they charge extra for these services) before signing up."

9. Finally, have a backup plan. "Should you decide to leave the cloud or the cloud provider decides to leave you [goes out of business], have a business plan ready to go to move to a new cloud with minimal disruption," says Brian D. Kelley, the CIO of Portage County, Ohio.

5 Questions to Ask Your Cloud Provider Before Signing On

Before you store any data in the cloud, "check up on the company," says David Willson, an attorney specializing in cyber security who is a partner at ONLINEintell, a corporate intelligence firm. Ask for references -- as well as the following five questions:

  1. How long has the company been in business?
  2. Where are their servers located? ("Storing your data in multiple data centers or regions around the world can help you survive local and regional outages," says Casey Rosenthal, director of professional services at Basho, a distributed database provider. "This improves the uptime of your data as well as your ability to recover from data loss.")
  3. What is their security like? (Is it badge-protected facility with cameras everywhere?) Will they provide a copy of their policies?
  4. Have they had a security audit in the last year and will they share the results?
  5. What assurances are they willing to make, in writing, that they will a) notify you as soon as a breach is detected; b) take swift action to work with you to correct the situation; and, c) insure you for loss or theft (if they go bankrupt, say, or law enforcement seizes a server)?

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