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Software System Continuity in the Cloud – What if your cloud supplier failed?

January 28, 2013

The most obvious disaster that could befall a business in the cloud is that its provider ceases to exist, whether due to a catastrophic business failure, company liquidation or administration, a material breach of a contract or one of many M&A scenarios. If your cloud provider is a privately owned company or is located abroad, the risks associated with business longevity are even more difficult to gauge. On top of that the cloud market is far from stable with new entrants competing and vying for business on a daily basis. It is a safe bet that not all of them will survive.

If you are using cloud/SaaS systems for mission critical, core transactional applications then there are major technological hurdles to shifting your system to another provider in the  event of a failure of your current one.

Many suppliers provide disaster recovery solutions for the data that is held within your cloud/SaaS system but none of these supplier address the difficult questions if your system supplier fails.

  • How do i access my data if the system is unavailable?
  • How useful is my data without the system to access it?
  • How long and at what cost to transfer to a new system?

These are just 3 very important questions that must be addressed before any organization begins using cloud/SaaS systems.

The only way to address the failure of a critical system supplier is through the use of a specialist cloud escrow agreement. These escrow agreements hold the source code and operational components for a system in a secure repository and should a critical event like vendor failure occur they are released to the user.

In most situations, installing cloud/SaaS systems and environment from the source code can be a complex and time consuming exercise.

In order to provide a resilient final stage recovery solution for the hosted applications, it is essential to hold the operational software components required to build the application in a production environment. By using virtual machine technology we are able to replicate the system in a VM snapshot following the successful build of the deposited material (operational components or source code).

The escrow material is provided in quarterly deposits of source code by the software supplier and is required to allow any necessary changes to the application if it is redeployed to a new hosting environment.

While the cloud may simplify IT from your perspective by removing all the nasty complexity of enterprise IT, it increases the difficulty of implementing a comprehensive and robust disaster recovery and business continuity strategy.

Note.

“Operational components” is a generic term used to describe the compiled source code and can also refer to configuration files which may store paths to other object, storage or directions to access data. All these are required to get a whole system operational.

 

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written by David Clee

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