Cloud Backup - A gamble on several levels

Online or cloud backup was one of the buzz words of cloud computing, and was actually leading the wave in terms of commercial implementation. Hewlett-Packard had it's Upline service, Yahoo had it's Briefcase, IBackup is going strong. But the market for online backup is still quite volitile.

For instance, HP has decided to shut down Upline, without much explanation to the customers. It went down on March 31, 2009. Oh, by the way, Yahoo closed shop at Briefcase on March 30, just a day earlier!

In the meantime, the big players are repositioning: EMC purchased Mozy - an online backup startup, and is pushing the service strong. And there are still new players on the field - COMODO has just announced their online backup service. And we are hearing that Symantec is also going into the online backup business!

With all these events, several questions regarding the entire Online Backup solution surface from the murky deep

  • Who uses whose infrastructure? - the simultaneous closing of two major services (HP Upline and Yahoo Briefcase) may be a simple coincidence. But, on the other hand, it is a 'cloud' service, thus one service may outsource it's physical storage to another vendor. This leads to all kinds of unanswered questions like
    • Who else has access to the backed-up data?
    • Is the advertised availability actually achievable?
    • Can we loose the backed-up data if the outsourced provider fails financially?
  • Is your online backup actually safe? - While technical security measures can be implemented and documented, corporate decisions fall way outside of the scope of the service. And corporate decisions may include layoffs, selling of assets, closing of divisions, even selling of the entire company. And in such conditions, the service provider's employees could care less about some Joe Average's online photo collection or sales reports
  • Can you define a long term data retention policy and rely on online backup to meet it? - HP is a HUGE company. And it failed to deliver a long-running service. One may discuss that HP is primarily a hardware vendor, but nevertheless, as a large company is always interested to present itself as a serious long-term partner. And yet, it closed it's service. So, who can tell what will happen to the other Online Backup service providers?
  • Which service provider is the right choice for Online Backup? - Again, HP and Yahoo are large, and closed up shop. Other service providers are all over the place: From start-ups, through venture capital funded firms up to large players who purchased smaller ones. Which one will prove to be the best, and which one will actually deliver on the promise
There are no definite answers to these questions. But in a time of economic instability, the services and service providers can find themselves in all kinds of trouble , relying on online back-up without a second option feels a lot like gambling. And gambling on technical, financial and business level.

Talkback and comments are most welcome

Related posts
3 Rules to Prevent Backup Headaches
Cloud Computing - Premature murder of the datacenter
Know the Difference - Backup vs. Archive
Security Concerns Cloud “Cloud Computing”


entrecardblogger said...

This kind of actions are definery no definite answers,thanks for the update.

wongsk said...

the private or important information don't use this kind og online backup.

You also have to prepare they will 'close shop' without your noticed.

Short said...

On the other hand a lot of online backup vendors offer their services just for important information

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Robert said...

Maybe Google will enter the game soon.

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