Where there are clouds, there's lightning (and other cloud disaster tips)

A cloud contract should anticipate the worst

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They say that lightning doesn't strike twice, but apparently a single bolt of lightning can take out two cloud provider data centers at once. At least that's what initial reports cited as the cause of concurrent outages at the Dublin data centers that serve as Microsoft's and Amazon's major cloud computing hubs for Europe. These reports serve as a good reminder of why it's a good idea to consider disaster recovery and business continuity when contracting with a cloud computing provider.

Your organization could end up in a world of hurt if a disaster strikes and your cloud provider doesn't have processes in place to effectively deal with it. To make sure this doesn't happen, you need to identify and contractually codify the provider's minimum disaster recovery and business continuity mechanisms. The contract should also address the provider's obligations should any of your data become lost or damaged as the result of such a disaster or other provider errors or omissions.

When evaluating a cloud provider's disaster recovery and business continuity preparedness, issues to consider include the following:

Ongoing Level of Uninterrupted Service

In the event of a disaster, the provider should be prepared to seamlessly switch you over to another data center outside the disaster zone. Be sure to address specifics such as the time frame within which this switch needs to occur, the level of service and functionality to be provided by the backup site and the time frame within which the primary data center will be restored.

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