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What happens when your cloud provider pulls out of the market?

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The cloud's escaping

At the start of the year, the news that Symantec's Backup offering had been removed from the market left customers just one year to migrate to an alternative solution.

This generous window of opportunity is not indicative of the cloud industry in general, with companies typically leaving a much smaller migration window. So what do you do if your backup provider pulls its product from the market?

Started over 10 years ago, Databarracks, based in Clapham, South London, provides secure, Infrastructure as a Service, Backup as a Service and Disaster Recovery as a Service from UK-based, ex-military data centres.

Oscar Arean, Technical Operations Manager at Databarracks, discusses what you should do if your cloud provider is forced pull out of the market, what it means for your data and how you can retrieve your data.

TechRadar Pro: What is the difference between retrieving my backups from a cloud service provider compared to regular data storage?

Oscar Arean: Retrieving backup data is a far more complex process than when working with normal production data. Unfortunately it's not as simple as collecting your disks from the data centre and extracting the data straight from them.

Due to the nature of backups, they are usually encrypted, compressed and stored in a way very specific to your provider's software. The process of extracting this data, in a readable state, is far more time consuming in comparison to application or file data.

TRP: How can I keep all the different generations of my backups?

OA: Good providers will do this for you, and export the data in a way that allows your next provider to set up your new backup service without losing any historical data. Not all providers do this as standard, however, and can charge a premium when it is required.

While not always possible, it's useful to have this conversation with your CSP before committing, to ensure you both understand the expectations and restrictions on the relationship.

Ideally your new provider will use the same technology as your previous one, making the transition as smooth as possible. You can transfer historical data to a different system if necessary but you need to bear in mind the extra time, storage and essentially money that this requires because you will be the one doing the work to convert it.

Check for additional charges from either provider that may be incurred. It may also be possible to export configuration settings which can reduce setup times, although at this stage it is recommended to review backup settings to ensure that they meet your requirements and are actually protecting all of your essential servers.

TRP: How fast can I get my data back from my CSP's environment?

OA: This is dependent on the amount of data you have and the speed of transfer. It is important to note that although you may have a very fast internet connection, some service providers to impose restrictions on the speed of transfer.

Unless you are only storing a very small volume of data and have a large internet connection, the most sensible method to retrieve your data is to have it physically sent to you.

To ensure fast delivery, negotiate an SLA into your contract that guarantees the couriered delivery of your data. For added security, the delivery can be tracked in transit from the data centre to your site.

TRP: Can I transfer directly to another provider?

OA: Sometimes, but there are four main things to take into account:

Are you happy for a complete refresh with no historical data? How will you get your historical data to another service provider? Have you considered the costs in exporting and importing historical data?
Does the historical data get de-duplicated or does it add to the overall storage which increases the cost of the solution?

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology in a career spanning four decades. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.