Can You Retrieve Your Data After Terminating Your Contract?

Balaji Viswanathan

Can You Retrieve Your Data After Terminating Your Contract?

Consider the following scenarios.

Scenario 1: You have a great cloud service provider and have moved all your business data there. One fine morning, you get a notice stating that your provider is going bankrupt and will soon be terminating all contracts. Now, will you get back all your data that is stored on the provider’s servers?

Scenario 2: You have been using Basecamp for your project management needs, but after two years of usage you find Zoho better suits your needs. Can you easily export all your Basecamp data to Zoho?

Put simply, can you easily retrieve your data stored in the cloud to enable you to move from one service to another? This is a question that is worrying CIOs around the world. Unlike typical outsourcing services, retrieving your data from the cloud is not a straightforward thing. CIO.com recently posted an excellent article on this which raises some important questions. In this post, I will try to offer some insight into the topic.

Common causes of cloud service termination

While most businesses are paying a lot of attention to cloud migration, few enterprises think about the end game that comes with termination of the service. The termination of a service can occur due to a number of reasons:

  • The cloud service provider goes bankrupt or is unable to continue their cloud operations due to operational issues.
  • Excessive increases in ongoing charges or non-adherence to service-level guarantees is forcing you to consider moving to an alternative provider.
  • The provider is accusing you of violating of their terms (related to data collection, fair usage or the disputed legality of content), which could lead to suspension/termination. For Instance, if your business is sued for copyright infringement, the provider may not want to take the risk of keeping your data on their servers.
  • The performance needs of your business require a better service provider.
  • Your business needs have changed, and you could go with a lower level/different service.

You can see that there are a number of reasons why a service could be terminated, and termination is not at all uncommon. Thus, you need to plan for this occurrence proactively.

How to ensure a business can operate without interruption

  • Does the service agreement have a clause to enable you to retrieve your data at any point in time?
  • How will you retrieve the data? If they provide only a Web interface for you to download all the data, it might be very costly for large databases. Imagine downloading the data from your email server, with an average mailbox size of 5 GB, for 10,000 employees. Check if the provider gives you the option to ship physical discs at reasonable cost.
  • How soon can you retrieve the data, and how long will the data be kept after the service expires?
  • In what formats will you get the data? Are those formats proprietary? Are there tools to easily convert the format to commonly used data formats?
  • How hard is it to clean the data to make it usable with another provider?

Data is one of the crucial elements of business operation, and it is essential that you consider how easily you can retrieve your data outside of the interface provided by your current provider.

By Balaji Viswanathan

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