Thursday, May 19, 2011

Data center thefts fuel cloud concerns

Thanks to @MarkDansie for drawing my attention to a further concern about storing our business data in the cloud:
  Should IT managers be concerned about DC security in the UK following theft at O2 yesterday 

I was already attuned to the need to protect against software intrusions: news of the recent loss of personal details of approaching 100m Sony Playstation Network users is a wake-up call to many businesses trusting their operational data to cloud computing.

But the article Mark referred to lists a catalogue of physical break-ins to data centres across the western world ... the resultant theft of hardware has brought major disruption to Vodafone and O2 cell phone networks; high profile and mundane web sites alike and more...

The bottom line is that we shouldn't trust all our eggs to any one basket. Just as I keep a spare PC in case my main one fails, and I have multiple copies of key files on various backup media, so we need a strategy for protection in case other parts of our infrastructure fail. Just because it's in the cloud, doesn't mean it can't fail!

We intentionally keep company blogs on platforms other than our main website: if the company website fails (which can happen for any number of reasons outside our control) then the blog will still operate so that we can communicate status updates to customers. That got put to the test last week when Blogger, host of our blog, itself failed! I never thought I'd see that day - but the company website was still up and running so our backup plan worked the other way around!

So, if you're using cloud computing for your customer relationship management data, great: but what's the backup plan in case your internet access fails (can staff work from coffee shops?); and what happens if your CRM hosting provider fails, perhaps because someone has stolen network equipment from one of their data centre hosting providers? Think through the scenarios before they happen and make appropriate plans!
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