With the inevitable rise of big data, cloud migration has been occurring at unprecedented levels.  Taking your company’s data and IT services into the cloud might well be a challenge in the first place but how do you make sure that you can get your data out as easily as you put it in?  Clearly businesses go into a cloud contract for the long run but what happens when you’re love affair with a particular cloud provider is over?

According to KPMG’s 2014 Cloud Survey Report, which polled 800 global executives, roughly half use cloud technology to lower costs. They can also help organisations increase workforce flexibility, improve customer service and enhance data analytics.  But with all the hype and benefits, there is one thing that is for sure – the cloud is not foolproof.  Businesses need to be prepared for things to go wrong and be prepared for cloud failure.

One of the first things to check is the contract you have with your cloud service provider.  There are many providers who will go to town in their service level agreement (SLA) on data recovery and backup while others may not mention it at all.  It’s important to consider whether your cloud provider stores data in multiple data centres to minimise a single point of failure. If they don’t you might want to consider switching to one that does.

You should check to see how access to your data will be managed at the end of service. Data should be stored long enough after termination to download it all but if you only have access for a short amount of time, it might be a problem gaining access to it.  It’s also important to consider whether there is a way to check data is safely disposed of.

Another issue is bandwidth. A company’s email may contain 25GB of data for every inbox but getting that removed and downloaded will take a long time, even for most companies.  A cloud vendor might have a load of bandwidth but do they have enough network bandwidth to drive the networks at full rate and ensure all their client’s data is removed before they close up shop?

One way to move off one cloud provider is to simply move straight to another, as they will have the capability to move these large quantities of data quickly.  Companies should also prioritise the importance of data in the cloud so when it comes to moving it, they ensure they move the high priority business critical data before anything else.

The end of a cloud service is not the only reason you may want to move data. It maybe because your business is establishing a hybrid cloud set-up and needs some data back in-house.

While the cloud is most definitely here to stay and will have a major role in delivering business services in the future, it’s important to consider that even on a basic level, taking some thought, consideration and preparation in the event your cloud provider goes out of business is a way of preventing disaster before it happens.   Cloud users need to always think of the worst case scenario – after all it’s better to be safe than sorry.