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What Happens To Data When a Cloud Provider Dies?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the up-in-smoke dept.

Cloud 262

Lucas123 writes "When cloud storage providers shut down, as four have done in the past year, users are left wondering how they'll get their data back and whether they'll be able to migrate it directly to a new service provider. More importantly, analysts say, what guarantees do they have that the data stored offsite will be deleted after the shutdown. Currently, there is no direct way to migrate data to another provider, and there are no government rules or regulations specific to data managed by cloud storage providers."

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HAL (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941898)

Does it dream?

Re:HAL (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941982)

I'm sorry dave, I can't do that.

Re:HAL (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942398)

Daisy..daisy....

Re:HAL (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942604)

It has a save feature that saves last two minutes of its existence, so it can relive its death countless times!

Capt. Obvious reports. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35941922)

As if people weren't losing any data when "the cloud" was called "shared hosting".

MOD PARENT UP (1)

russlar (1122455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942186)

really. the cloud is just a new name on an old concept, that's become viable because bandwidth is cheaper than in the past.

Migration (3, Informative)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942364)

On shared hosting you can migrate from one service provider to the other without major pain, because there are a lot of providers offering LAMP/J2EE/ASP.net etc.
In the case of the cloud, you depend on the cloud APIs which aren't standardized and because cloud servers aren't a commodity. You can't migrate from Amazon cloud to Microsoft cloud without writing your own abstraction layer on top of proprietary cloud APIs.

Re:Migration (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942464)

If you're not writing your own abstraction layer on top of the proprietary cloud APIs you're doing it wrong. Also some of the cloud solutions (like Google's) use JPA as the interface which should translate nicely for many users to an alternative data store.

Re:Migration (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942564)

Meh apis blah blah. When the shared hosting was at its peak during the second dot-com boom, you had at least several flavors of unix, several versions of apache with minor api differences, various databases with various options compiled or not compiled in, gd with or without gif support, and don't even start me on the php or perl module availability. Migration was as much a nightmare then, as it is now.

And the "big issue" was the same then as now -- in the end, the data is the responsibility of the entity that needs it most. It is a safe assumption that no one else will care about your data but yourself. It is also a given that the SLA will have a liability limitation that will top at what you have actually paid.

The rest is just bullshit and sensationalism.

Re:Capt. Obvious reports. (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942730)

What kind of idiot doesn't have a on-site backup of their off-site storage?

Well... (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941926)

You take your chances if your hosting your data somewhere outside of your control. Unfortunately, when any company goes broke, customer concerns tend to go out the window as the major creditors swoop in to grab what value they can.

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941978)

Right on spot. If you give your data away, you give your data away. It is not yours anymore. What the providers guarantees while online dies with the company as people are busy updating their resumes. Whatever means you may have to get to them (legal for example) is usually moot as well since the company is no more.

What you have on YOUR hard drive, on YOUR dvds, YOUR tapes is in YOUR control. Note that it is not necessarily better.

Re:Well... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942194)

What you have on YOUR hard drive, on YOUR dvds, YOUR tapes is in YOUR control. Note that it is not necessarily better.

Not if the RIAA, MPAA and others have their way./p.

Re:Well... (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942254)

I didn't say you own it, I said it's in your control. And it is. Strings may be attached, but if your DVDs are stored in proper conditions you will most certainly be able to read them in 30 years. Assuming there will be a licensed player still in store then.

Re:Well... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942040)

Anybody who didn't think of these things before signing up was Doing It Wrong.

Re:Well... (5, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942866)

Don't forget that all SLAs, privacy agreements, and other items are not worth the paper they are printed in come a liquidation. We all heard the adage that possession is 9/10s of the law. It applies here too.

After a bankruptcy, the new holders of the servers can do anything they please with the data on the boxes. PII data about bank accounts and HR records? It can be put as a torrent for all to download, sold to a firm offshore for ID theft, sold to advertisers. There is not one single thing anyone can do about it, provided there is no confidential or classified data present. Trade secret? By law, it isn't a trade secret anymore.

One of the downsides of cloud computing is that all data, be it E-mails on a cloud system, offsite storage, or applications in house can easily be made public to sell to all comers should a cloud provider go bankrupt or change hands. No amount of paperwork can ever go to assure against that.

Only real protection? Encryption, with keys stored with the client, and ONLY with the client. Even then, it still isn't good for cyphertext data to be made public for all and sundry to try to figure out the contents.

Re:Well... (1)

rpdillon (715137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942872)

And, you take your chances if you're hosting it somewhere within your control. I mean, I get the whole "my data, my drives" concept, but I have seen exactly zero evidence that clouds have less downtime than internal solutions. And, if the cloud is the only place you have your data, well, that's just as bad as storing it in any other single place.

Risk Reward... (4, Insightful)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941940)

A cloud based form of backup or duplicates can only be one leg of a system to protect data. Gotta have at least 3 legs to stand on.

The reminder that 4 services closed in one year is fair warning.

Re:Risk Reward... (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942046)

Gotta have at least 3 legs to stand on.

I do pretty well with two. Or are you talking about... nevermind.

Re:Risk Reward... (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942318)

Penis! I get it!

Re:Risk Reward... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942408)

Penis! I get it!

You must be an Apple fan.

Re:Risk Reward... (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942534)

No, stool actually. Stool!

Re:Risk Reward... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942436)

If the provider of "cloud services" dies, then the cloud should do what comes naturally, evaporate.

Hmm... (2)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941950)

there are no government rules or regulations specific to data managed by cloud storage providers.

While there is most likely a solution to this problem, it does not lie in government regulation.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942034)

Absolutely it does. The simple fact is time and again it is seen that private entities are completely irresponsible and require government oversight and the threat of law to keep them in check.

This idea of deregulation needs to stop. Conservative thinking is a failure. The only time regulation doesnt work is when it is purposely sabotaged to not work which is time and again what conservatives do because its too costly to follow the law and do the right things. If corporations (even do no wrong Google) where not inherently evil, this wouldn't be a issue, But capitalism is just as evil as communism, just in its own ways.

Re:Hmm... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942168)

But we already have the required government regulation, in the form of contract laws and the court system to oversee them.

There's no monopoly issue here, such as there is with say cable TV or EM spectrum.

There's no personal safety issue here, such as there is with food and drugs.

There's no necessity for living here, such as there is with electric/gas and water.

If you want some guarantee that they destroy your data when you are no longer a customer then use one that proivdes that guarantee. At my place of work we have language in out contract with our dedicated server provider about what they must do with hard drives that we have used and so on - and yes that means we negotiated with them for a price and likely paid more than if we didn't want that requirement placed on them.

Re:Hmm... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942374)

If you want some guarantee that they destroy your data when you are no longer a customer then use one that proivdes that guarantee. At my place of work we have language in out contract with our dedicated server provider about what they must do with hard drives that we have used and so on - and yes that means we negotiated with them for a price and likely paid more than if we didn't want that requirement placed on them.

And when said server provider goes belly up, how do you ensure that guarantee is enforced, rather than the servers sold off to the highest bidder, complete with all contained customer data?

Re:Hmm... (1)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942502)

And if the government regulates this sort of thing, how do they guarantee that you get your data? I can easily see the government requiring complete access to said data to even be able to provide this guarantee.

Re:Hmm... (0, Flamebait)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942214)

you are half right.

assume both entities are equally powerful and hostile to you (ie, the gov and big business).

the only way to balance that is to have the old concept of checks/balances.

sadly, the republican dominated USA we live in for the last 10 or so years has turned the balance of power on its side and given both entities power but without ANY checks to keep them honest. the worst of both worlds, actually.

you can't trust the gov and you can't trust business. you can only trust them if they are at odds with each other. when they are friends, LOOK OUT FOR YOUR WALLET (and privacy).

Re:Hmm... (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942348)

Republican dominated USA? What the fuck is wrong with you?! Did you forget about the democrat congress and the democrat president in the last 10 years? My Lord how you blamed republicans for this is beyond my imagination as both parties are at fault and both parties had opportunities to change the course.

Re:Hmm... (1, Redundant)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942710)

sadly, the dumbass dominated USA we live in for the last 10 or so years has turned the balance of power on its side and given both entities power but without ANY checks to keep them honest.

FTFY.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942216)

So adjust the law about what corporations are about. Right now they have a duty to their shareholders. Most companies incorporate in the state with the most favorable corporate laws, a Federal corporate law could help that. (You would have to incorporate in you own state, or incorporate Federally.)

Corporations should be beholden primarily to the taxpayers, the shareholders get a cut and say after that. Corporate officers should answer to the taxpayers. Attorney-client privilege for corporate lawyers should extend to the taxpayers, not the officers or shareholders.

Remember: Incorporation is a legal fiction given by the Government. The power of the government derives from the will of the people. Corporations should always act in the best interest of the people, and like the Secret Service, they should be willing to take a bullet for us. If a group of people don't want to take this responsibility, no one is forcing them to incorporate.

Re:Hmm... (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942330)

Corporations should be beholden primarily to the taxpayers, the shareholders get a cut and say after that. Corporate officers should answer to the taxpayers. Attorney-client privilege for corporate lawyers should extend to the taxpayers, not the officers or shareholders.
Remember: Incorporation is a legal fiction given by the Government. The power of the government derives from the will of the people. Corporations should always act in the best interest of the people, and like the Secret Service, they should be willing to take a bullet for us. If a group of people don't want to take this responsibility, no one is forcing them to incorporate.

I'd hate to live in your dystopian future, friend. Government's powers derive from the people, but buisnesses don't. Incorporation is a recognition that people acting in a group with each other don't give up their individual rights.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942670)

Talk to a lawyer for your own state, but for a good overview of what incorporation is today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_(business) [wikipedia.org]
"...a corporation being a legal entity that is effectively recognized as a person under the law). The corporation may be a business, a non-profit organization, sports club, or a government of a new city or town."...

A corporation has extra rights that the "people acting in a group" don't have. If a person or persons dump oil into the gulf of Mexico, they can be taken to jail. If a corporation dumps millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, there will be a fine. Even if people died in the accident, no one will go to jail, and the courts are loathe to implement a "Corporate Death Sentence" where the fines are enough to bankrupt the company. (Enron was a exception, not the rule)

Re:Hmm... (2)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942574)

Conservative thinking is a failure. The only time regulation doesnt work is when it is purposely sabotaged to not work which is time and again what conservatives do because its too costly to follow the law and do the right things.

Wow. Even if you do accept the fallacy that modern republicans and democrats are different in any way, the perception is that the dems are the progressives who get things done, and reps are the ones who take the "high moral ground". There are areas where government regulation is a necessary evil, but not when it comes to my personal data.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942752)

Absolutely it does. The simple fact is time and again it is seen that private entities are completely irresponsible and require government oversight and the threat of law to keep them in check.

This idea of deregulation needs to stop. Conservative thinking is a failure. The only time regulation doesnt work is when it is purposely sabotaged to not work which is time and again what conservatives do because its too costly to follow the law and do the right things. If corporations (even do no wrong Google) where not inherently evil, this wouldn't be a issue, But capitalism is just as evil as communism, just in its own ways.

Translation: It would have worked much better if we had only busted more heads!

Re:Hmm... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942236)

Actually, I'd say when a company collapses, government regulation is the only way customers (and investors and creditors) are going to have any hope of protection. That's why we have bankruptcy laws in the first place. The free market can't regulate a company that has collapsed, it has nothing to lose. What's going to happen? Another company is going to out compete it at collapsing?

Re:Hmm... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942268)

That information is my personal property.

It is the government that usually sorts out property issues (and contract issues). There is a VERY long history of this.

Sorry to rain on your psuedo-libertarianism parade but the government is exactly the right entity to help sort this out. This is a simple property issue.

Re:Hmm... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942530)

Most opinions on Slashdot tend to skew towards information not being "property" at all. It's a bunch of bits. A cloud storage provider is simply a storage device, and like all storage devices it CAN fail. You need to plan for that possibility and have a contingency plan in place. If you are so naive as to place your data solely onto one of these services then if it fails you're SOL.

Instead, use them as a supplement to your other backups. I use Dropbox pretty extensively myself, but if it goes under I'll just switch to another provider, as my data is still on my drives too and still gets copied to DVDs fairly regularly .

Re:Hmm... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942716)

Sorry to rain on your psuedo-libertarianism parade but the government is exactly the right entity to help sort this out. This is a simple property issue.

If you lend your car to Joe Bob Inc and then the company goes bust, what do you think will happen? Hint: they won't drive it back to your house and give you the keys.

I remember when a company I worked for years ago in London went bust with large debts, the bailiffs took away all kinds of hardware that was on loan from various companies and they then had to try to get their property back. Why do you expect data to be any different?

Re:Hmm... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942552)

there are no government rules or regulations specific to data managed by cloud storage providers.

While there is most likely a solution to this problem, it does not lie in government regulation.

That's what the airline industry said, same goes for the bankster industry, as well as the oil industry, oh, and don't forget the utility industry and commercialized penal system.
And last but not least, an unregulated government. The voters should demand a balanced budget, term limits, reasonable campaign funding, accountability of office-holders, the outlawing of corporate special interest groups, a re-affirmation of the separation of church and state and a separation of business and state.

Re:Hmm... (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942666)

Actually that's exactly what government should be there for. The government is not there to pour cash on some failing business model or rain missiles on another one uncooperative business partner - it should put regulation in place so that the business can be left to die. Proper regulation opens the market.

Of course, that would require a government that regulates for the good of its citizen rather than the corporations. Cloud market is still young, there is some hope that good regulation can be passed.

Welcome back to mainframes bitches (3, Insightful)

sheepofblue (1106227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35941972)

The cloud has immense uses but "trust me" is not something you ever want to here from the government or a company. Anyone that puts there assets out in the ether with no alternate location is asking for trouble.

Re:Welcome back to mainframes bitches (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942052)

Well, a mainframe is actually the exact opposite of a cloud. It is just that most services that call them self cloud-services, especially cloud-storage are the exact opposite of cloud.

Cloud: Share a your among many but unreliably providers, treating this abstract idea as a single provider, a cloud.
Mainframe: Put you data in the hands of single central provider. The exact opposite of cloud service

Re:Welcome back to mainframes bitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942176)

Cloud: Share a your among many but unreliably providers, treating this abstract idea as a single provider, a cloud.

[[citation needed]]. Or are you confusing "Cloud" with "Torrent"?

Re:Welcome back to mainframes bitches (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942388)

Both are distributed.

Re:Welcome back to mainframes bitches (2)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942554)

Torrents are the classic cloud-storage that inspired the concept. Also personal details in social media is another source, in terms like "nothing is forgotten in the cloud".

The reason for the devolution of the name is of course that Google's search service internally is structured like a cloud, but of course their storage services are not, because unreliable indexes are acceptable, unreliable data storage is not.

Re:Welcome back to mainframes bitches (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942558)

This seems to be a case of you trying to redefine an accepted term from what it actually means to what you think it should mean. Unfortunately, language doesn't work that way.

Too Big To Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35941984)

Don't use the smaller cloud providers, rely on those that are too big to fail.

Re:Too Big To Fail (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942112)

Don't use the smaller cloud providers, rely on those that are too big to fail.

There is no such thing as 'too big to fail'.

Re:Too Big To Fail (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942190)

woosh!!

Do it yourself (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35941990)

If it's not on your own system, encrypt it (maybe even on your own system, in certain cases), so that it will be useless if the cloud provider goes without deleting your stuff.
As for backups: do it yourself (as well).

Simple (1)

oztiks (921504) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942004)

Oh Slashdot, this is not news. IT lawyers have been addressing this for ages. If the SPA doesn't have clauses in place to protect customer data, simple, dont go with them.

The bigger concern is where the data is storred and who's viewing the data. Any buyer out there who is looking at Cloud must ask all these questions before signing up.

If you pay peanuts you get monkies, I think that sums this up!

This is why... (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942016)

And, this is why I will not be using cloud services for anything of value (meaning "anything ever"). It is bad enough that I have to rely on email from someone else.

Re:This is why... (2)

oztiks (921504) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942102)

And this is why I wont be using harddisks for anything of value. I've printed off the contents of all my storage devices on A4 sheets of paper in raw binary format, recently I've had to renovate the garage to cater.

Re:This is why... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942292)

...nice strawman there but it kind of loses some of the essential elements of the original.

A hard drive remains in my control just like a piece of paper does.

Re:This is why... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942606)

But a hard drive can fail at any time, and there may not be any warning. If you're looking for one magic bullet where you can store your data without any care as to setting up backups, then sorry, it doesn't exist. If you have data that you don't want to lose, it HAS to exist in multiple places. Otherwise it's just a matter of time before it's gone.

Re:This is why... (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942138)

And, this is why I will not be using cloud services for anything of value (meaning "anything ever"). It is bad enough that I have to rely on email from someone else.

Why do you have to reply on email from anyone else? It's not too hard to setup a mail server for yourself.

Is this a cloud specific problem? (3, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942054)

I'd think these issues are general so far as storing your data "anywhere but here" is concerned.

Re:Is this a cloud specific problem? (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942492)

Except that "here" can also suffer a catastrophy. It's a problem of storing your data in only one place.

The Cloud is a ripoff (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942056)

The Cloud is a great deal for the provider, and a terrible deal for the customer. No data security, and no guarantees in case of a catastrophic provider failure.

What? Never heard of SCP? (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942068)

Storage is cheap. Just get something like a dRobo, throw some barracuda HDs in it and you have a multi-terabyte raid array.
Just SCP your files down the net into the black box and you're all set. Question is, why aren't you doing this already?
Just leaving your files up on your host and NOT backing up to local storage is classic dumbfuckery.

For databases, most cloud users use MySQL anyway, so just use the admin tool to back up and replicate to a local server. Don't have a suitable machine for a local server? Get a mac-mini, they are rather inexpensive and come with MySQL5 pre-installed and configurable through Apple's server admin interface.

Re:What? Never heard of SCP? (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942400)

I think many people look to the cloud for scaling bandwidth more than storage. Storage is cheap, but adding lots of servers and/or network bandwidth in a short amount of time isn't feasible if you're working with a physical plant.

Cloud computing and storage is most useful as an incubator, allowing companies to gauge their required resources before they invest in hardware. In an ideal world you use the cloud to launch, then replace your cloud with the correct physical parameters when you know what to expect.

Re:What? Never heard of SCP? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942520)

General idea seems good, but I dont really understand the fascination with drobos for anyone who does any kind of serious IT work. A freenas box with a proper hardware RAID card can be had (sans drives) for about half the price of an equivalent (sans drives) drobo, is faster, supports ZFS, and has built in Unison | Rsync | ftp.... etc. It also doesnt use some poorly documented "kind-of RAID".

Why would I want a drobo?

Re:What? Never heard of SCP? (1)

RR (64484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942780)

General idea seems good, but I dont really understand the fascination with drobos for anyone who does any kind of serious IT work. A freenas box with a proper hardware RAID card can be had (sans drives) for about half the price of an equivalent (sans drives) drobo, is faster, supports ZFS, and has built in Unison | Rsync | ftp.... etc. It also doesnt use some poorly documented "kind-of RAID".

Why would I want a drobo?

Some people want to get into cloud-type services because they don't want the hassle of configuring it all themselves. The Drobo is designed to be really easy to use.

Re:What? Never heard of SCP? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942784)

Did freenas fix the ZFS performance issues? And why would you want a hardware raid? If you controller dies you will have to get a compatable replacement to rebuild the array. Also might I suggest Openfiler as also worth looking at.
Oh and this would IMHO make a nice NAS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182234 [newegg.com]

You get 6 sata ports 2 x 1000Mbit network ports plus it uses VGA and PS/2 so KVMs are cheap and easy with this. It even has a serial port if you need it. Put FreeNas on a USB drive and you have a crap load of storage with this. Or use the PCI slot to add more SATA ports and really increase you storage space. If they just made a 1 U case that could fit an mini itx and 6 drivers.

Re:What? Never heard of SCP? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942850)

And why would you want a hardware raid? If you controller dies you will have to get a compatable replacement to rebuild the array.

Battery backed cache. And with mirroring you should be able to mount the drives directly if you can't find a replacement controller... with RAID5 you're probably screwed, but if you're using RAID5 you presumably don't much care about your data anyway.

To all Cloud entrepreneurs & VC's (4, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942072)

Dear Cloud entrepreneurs and VC's:

If you are wondering why businesses aren't trampling themselves to go to a public cloud, here is half your answer. The other half was the Amazon outage. A CIO does not like depending on an outside company for his uptime metric. He wants total control. If there is an outage, he wants HIS people on it reporting to HIM. He doesn't want to go back to the CEO, "the cloud provider is working on it and there is nothing I can do to make it go faster."

If clouds happen, it will mostly be private clouds under the company's control. Sure it may not have as high uptime or be more expensive, but at least it's under their control. You surrender control going to an external cloud.

Re:To all Cloud entrepreneurs & VC's (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942256)

Running in the cloud has the same implications of running any other successful IT operation. The organizations that experienced long term outages during the amazon issue had no failover or disaster plan.

or... (0)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942088)

Paradigm-shifting forecasts notwithstanding, maybe you're just bone-stupid relying on someone else's storage to save your data?

Seriously, the 'cloud' storage IS a decent idea for data that needs to be accessed frequently from widely different locations.

But to rely on it (as some as suggested) as a primary storage point?

AHAHAHAHAAHHAAH. You're just plain dumb.

Surprise ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942092)

Once your data is in the cloud, you don't really control it anymore. And, some of the TOS for these things more or less say "we get to keep it and use it if we want to".

The fact that these fold an go under is hardly surprising ... and I bet the legal status of your data is a little bit murky if the assets get sold off to someone else.

The cloud has always seemed a little bit sketchy in some places ... both because it's poorly defined, and what's to say your data doesn't end up in a country with rather liberal "all your data are belong to us" laws?

quite simple it evaporates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942100)

then after a while - in the next cycle - it shows somewhere else.

That's easy (2)

lavagolemking (1352431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942108)

It rains down your data, everywhere.

Not a new issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942148)

Not only has this been an issue with computer data for a long time (see timesharing services), but it's been an issue in the "real world" for thousands of years. When Person A gives property to Person B for safekeeping it's called Bailment [wikipedia.org] . There is a massive amount of common law on this.

Vendor Reputation? (1)

Kylock (608369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942222)

Currently, there is no direct way to migrate data to another provider, and there are no government rules or regulations specific to data managed by cloud storage providers.

Why is it that recently, people seem to think the answer is in government regulation, when in the past, people would choose a vendor based upon reputation and quality of service. I guess if it's a regulated industry, you can blame your shitty decision-making on the government.

To respond the concern about lost data, just because it's "in the cloud" doesn't mean that you don't have to back your stuff up. Data backup has always been and always will be a "best practice". From personal experience, a friend of mine ran a local ISP back in the late 90s. Shell accounts with storage were included with the flat access subscription rate. When he finally pulled the plug on it, he had 3 or 4 boxes just full of crap people put on there. We just went though it and made copies of the interesting stuff. I imagine the attitude of a startup wouldn't be much different than that. New technologies are tough, and tougher when you decide you want to embrace something like cloud computing, and see a bunch of companies you've never heard of competing for your business. You either go with Amazon, Google, IBM, or someone who might disappear in a year.

On a personal note, I think people should think very carefully about the decision to not host their own data, especially if it's of a sensitive nature. It's like paying someone to hold on to your vertical file for you and trusting that they won't tamper with it or make copies of your documents.

An interesting notion just occured to me though - people have trusted banks with things they put in safety deposit boxes for a long time so you have reputation to go by, would you trust a bank to host your datacenter?

Re:Vendor Reputation? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942332)

> Why is it that recently, people seem to think the answer is in government regulation

This is a personal property and contract issue.

That's pretty much the very core of what governments are there to deal with.

Yes. UPS should be expected to not give away my parcels to some random 3rd party and yes the government should get involved if UPS doesn't do the right thing.

Re:Vendor Reputation? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942588)

This is a personal property and contract issue.

That's pretty much the very core of what governments are there to deal with.

Why should the government be interfering with contracts betwen individuals, except in very specific cases where those contracts violate other laws (slavery, dumping toxic waste, etc)?

There is nothing here that individuals cannot freely negotiate themselves. That's pretty much the very core of what governments should not be involved with.

Re:Vendor Reputation? (1)

Kylock (608369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942628)

I'm not saying that the government shouldn't enforce contracts, just that I don't think we need a bunch of new laws telling cloud start-ups how to run their business. Seeing as how they're all burning out anyway, it seems like a moot point.

People ought to be responsible for the contracts they enter into and who they enter into them with. To stay on topic with the situation post in the article summary, If a company closes it's doors, there's nobody to hold accountable to the other side of the contract anyway. At that point, all you can do is sue, and you might get a judgement, but you won't get your data back.

You want guarantees of data deletion? (1)

holamundo (1914310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942234)

We don't even have that in running cloud storage providers, let alone shut down ones.

And that, folks, is why you store locally and sync (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942260)

Until we have the utopia that is our phones as our primary computers that can be used on the go and then seamlessly transition to desktop use with keyboards and monitors, storing data locally, planning ahead and synchronizing what you need will continue to be the way you should manage your data. Cloud services should be a last resort backup ONLY.

What is the draw to cloud services anyway? Access to your data from anywhere?

You can get 12" laptops with 500gb hard drives and decently-sized keyboards. Use standby instead of shutting down and you have pactically-instant startup and still lots of battery life

Heck, most people need little more than Facebook, email and a place to store pictures. Any smartphone can do that.

Re:And that, folks, is why you store locally and s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942424)

Thats why I like dropbox. I have copies on my desktop that are synced to the cloud. Im a Mix Engineer/producer(lots of large audio files that need to be transferred back and forth) my partners in cali and chicago have access to my dropbox as well. And there are other clients who have access to shared folders. So unless the midwest and westcoast are simultaneous destroyed we have at least 3 full backups of the dropbox on local machines. Along with backups of the shared folders.

the sig.... read the sig... (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942280)

Hopefully semi-serious customers do have in-house backups, and semi-serious providers do give a bit of warning before pulling the plug ?

That's a lot of effort and money down the drain for users, in any case.

You only have control of what you hold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942316)

If you give your data to someone, they have it.
You can't control what they do with it.

You can try to force them through threats, laws, legal actions, contracts, promises, etc. But that isn't the same as controlling it.

If you want control of your data, you need to keep control of your data.

Maybe RMS should coin a phrase and write an essay on how cloud computing is so careless.

Ideally, should be just like a safe deposit box (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942378)

Note I didn't say "is", I said "should be". And we should NOT be creating new and distinct laws, beyond maybe a new law saying "This should be treated under the old law for safe deposit boxes". The problem has already existed for safe deposit boxes, post-office boxes, non-post-office boxes (like the former MailBoxesEtc). If a particular bank branch is closed (or moved), there is a whole protocol for notifying box holders and handling things if people don't show up in time.

That said, I agree with other posters that if it's not already in your contract, you made a mistake putting your data there in the first place; and even if it is, you may find that bankruptcy court considers the data the server's because it's on their computers, or considers the data of no monetary value and just sells off the hardware. I also agree that I would not use abstract cloud services for sensitive data. Remote hosting, or remote co-location, where I own a specific machine in a secure location, is a different story (I hope).

caveat emptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942402)

Caveat Emptor -- if you are getting your storage for fewer currency units by being the cloud, shouldn't you expect it to be "cheaper" too. Total Lifecycle Analysis boys and girls. Chasing only the quarterly bottom line can be penny wise and pound foolish.

Some liquidator gets it. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942428)

What happens when the furniture store goes out of business, ok ok it does every Presidents day, so let me pick another example. What happens when the office supply store or the new italian restaurant opened by the very optimistic young couple goes out of business? Some liquidator gets all the "assets" and sells them off. So your data will be owned by liquidator and sold off to the highest bidder.

There could be legal agreements between you and the provider that prevents the provider from selling it. But the liquidator could be acting as an agent to some creditor, who might not have all the incentives to be nice to you. So you put it on the cloud. Make sure it is not something that will embarrass you if it becomes public, something that will not cause you damage if it ends up in Nigeria.

"Cloud" is just bad. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942430)

Especially with the increasing ISP costs/bandwidth caps, no freaking thank you. I'd prefer to pull my data from a hard/external drive without my ISP eyeballing/charging me for it. And hey, then I don't have to worry about CloudCompanyA going out of business.

Cloud is for deployment, not storage, doh! (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942476)

The cloud's purpose is to serve your data without using your local pipe.

You should maintain the main copy of that data yourself.

Nothing new (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942496)

How is this different than have your data stored in any single location?

* Stand alone system w/o backups: lose the system, lose the data.
* Stand alone system w/ backups in the same facility. lose the facility, lose the data.

Anyone that puts all of their eggs in a single basket without understanding the scope of the decision probably shouldn't be making those decisions. A proper risk analysis will weigh the risks, the costs, and the benefits.

Captain Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942560)

Errrm, ... it disappears?
Unless you have a functioning backup strategy that is.

BTW: Captain Obvious called and asked if you wanted his job.

The One That Lets You Keep Your Data (1)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942570)

I had an idea which I thought at the time was novel. I haven't worked out all the kinks in it yet, but if it could be made to work, I think it could be awesome.

It starts with a home server, web-facing and firewalled against casual intrusion. You keep your data on that in some standard configuration which lets outside companies tap into and add value to the data of everyone who registers their servers with that company.

Example: Photo-sharing on a social network. You'd have your pictures on your home computer in a given format that the outside system could read. You'd register your server with flickronlylessskeezy.com, and users on that system could see your pictures, comment on them, etc. The second logical step would be to register your home server to hold the lists of friends and comments.

Advantages: The data would stay on your computer. You control who does and doesn't access it by registering and deregistering outside services and controlling privileges, and if the service goes down, all that's lost is an accessor method; your data is still in your control. And if some organization decides they absolutely need to take down some incriminating or inconvenient data, an attack on a single server will take care of it without damaging the service for everyone else (beyond not seeing that special data).

Disadvantages: It does require either static IP addresses or tracking back through dynamic IPs, and more than a little computer knowledge on the part of the user, including database management, although with some very specialized software, there might be ways to make this user-friendly. It would also benefit greatly from decent connection speeds and ISPs who don't throttle "power users" (which right now is damn near none of them). And some companies which get in on this might want to stifle competition by using non-standard or proprietary data formats, which means if the service goes down your data is stuck in a black box which you can't open.

...

Well, once those problems are cleared, anyway, I think it could work. Thoughts?

Storage no, Access yes (1)

devlynh (857521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942584)

The cloud is no place to store your data. Clouds are, by their nature temporary and a very vapourous item. I want my data on my servers. I need to be able to access the data from anywhere. I have no trust that the cloud where I store my data will not disappear, go out of business or otherwise vanish. I might keep a backup on a cloud server (as long as only I have a password and the encryption is 256bit) but, never my primary data.

Answer: TBD (3, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942586)

In my experience, non-IT companies are falling all over themselves to move to (at the very least) hosted IT services. The true answer to this question will come out when the first major provider flames out. Think about this with a cynical eye towards the situation. CIOs and other decision makers are under immense pressure to cut costs, especially in companies where IT is not seen as a strategic investment. For every software company or non-IT company that uses IT to its advantage, there are 10x as many who use IT for file/print/email only, and see it as a cost like paying the janitor and building staff to keep the place running. Cloud providers win business by doing a shiny PowerPoint with animated graphics showing all those power-eating servers and local IT staff fading into "the cloud." At the same time, they promise the ability to get rid of your IT staff and replace the current IT spend with a monthly charge that can be completely written off as an operational expense. MBAs are seemingly taught on Day 1 that human resources are a necessary evil to be minimized, and that operational expenses are preferable to fixed asset spending. Therefore, this PowerPoint resonates with them and the decision is made.

The problems come behind the PowerPoint. Every IT problem the business had before now becomes the provider's problem, including data storage/retention, bandwidth issues, server provisioning and all that stuff. How well does it work out? Everything depends on the competence of your provider. Even with ironclad SLAs in place, (a) Really Bad Stuff can still happen that makes them null and void, and (b) SLAs are only a piece of paper guaranteeing you free service or a payment in the event of an outage.

Any business considering The Cloud needs to think of the following:

  • Do I trust my provider to handle my data? Is there anything so proprietary that I wouldn't mind having exposed on the Internet by a disgruntled cloud provider employee?
  • How much does it actually cost me to be down for X minutes? Am I willing to pay to have the provider properly architect the solution to work around this or am I willing to eat that much money? Is any SLA they can provide me going to compensate me for the full losses that downtime generates?
  • The Cloud can also be achieved locally through server consolidation, investing in more flexible network infrastructure and increasing internal operations efficiency. Would I be more comfortable doing that?

(If this sounds like the list of questions to ask when considering an outsourcing agreement, it is. Cloud is just IT outsourcing without a directly accountable staff at the provider.) Businesses who want data integrity and decent service need to realize that they have to pay for it, just like they do in a traditional outsourcing/hosting scenario. If a CIO chooses to go with the equivalent of GMail for their internal messaging, just 'cause it was cheaper than the fully-hosted, DR'd, off-site backed up, SOX-compliant managed email service, then they deserve what they get.

That's an easy one.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942626)

IT get's sold on the server's hard drives on ebay or at the Liquidation auction.

I have a friend that has a large chunk of the "pets.com" database from the old server he bought years ago.

The problem with SLAs (1)

darthwader (130012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942724)

This video illustrates the problem with SLAs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RabecxZKmU [youtube.com] (probably safe for work, depending on how long you watch the clip for -- stop watching after the promise to be safe).

Vendors want customers, and will do anything or say anything to get them. Especially vendors will promise something if making the promise will get them what they want, and there is absolutely no disadvantage to breaking the promise. Any customers who believe a promise that cannot possibly be kept are fools.

Answer: What happens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35942754)

The same thing happens as with any other cloud dies, it's contents are dispersed across the land.

In the case of a data cloud, you can be sure that your data is dispersed like raindrops across the land of the Internet, and just like rain anyone with the resources to collect it is free to do so.

EC2 is only semi-cloud (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942762)

That's why I like Amazon EC2 - my "cloud" servers are Linux instances running in their cloud, and I can easily mirror the data to my own servers. While I use their cloud API to start/stop/provision servers, I'm not dependent on of their API's to host my application. If Amazon went away, I could have my servers up and running at another provider overnight. (I do take full advantage of Amazon's multi-region instances, so I wasn't affected by their East Coast problems.)

Fortunately, I don't have terabytes of data locked aways in S3 - my database is a few GB so it's easy and cheap to mirror it to my own servers.

I'd never host an app on Google's App Engine API - I'd never be able to migrate to another provide if Google changed their service offering to something I didn't like.

Cloud to Cloud replication: Osmosis (1)

forrie (695122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942834)

Sounds like a good opportunity for some wild product/API that will (once your accounts are set up) migrate and/or replicate your data from one cloud to another. Sounds like a very difficult task, perhaps presently impossible, but I'd call it "Osmosis" :-)

          An approach like this will almost certainly result in some hybridized outcome.

simple offsite (1)

ZX3 Junglist (643835) | more than 3 years ago | (#35942876)

With the uncertainty and instability in the cloud services world, I think it's more sensible to rent a safe deposit box nearby, and go there every so often to swap new data backups.
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