Cloud infrastructure providers can invest in higher standards of security, hardware redundancy and business continuity than most end-user organisations. After all, running the service is the cloud provider’s business, and reliability is essential to its success.
Cloud providers are not immune to outages, or to cyber attacks. And cloud infrastructure, platform and SaaS (software) services typically only protect their own data and infrastructure. They will not back up or recover an individual business’s files, databases or virtual machines unless the customer specifically buys those services.
Some cloud service users – wrongly – believe that the cloud offers backup and data protection. It is more accurate to say that the cloud offers resilience and reliability – levels of reliability and availability can exceed those most that organisations can build themselves. But they do not, as standard, offer the granular backup and recovery services that firms need to recover lost files or restore applications.
“Look at the SLAs [service-level agreements] for what the cloud provider actually guarantees,” says Tony Lock of analysts Freeform Dynamics. “It doesn’t say that they guarantee your data is not going to have problems. They will try to protect their whole system, but they are not going to look at your specific data.”