You'd be hard pressed to find someone these days that both spends a regular portion of their day on the internet, and not a user of at least one Social Media application. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus are three big players in the US, and around the world. These behemoths of the genre are, for good reason, at the top of the game. Mainly, they create a compelling product that users enjoy and offer a dense set of features.
Like a universal recorder floating in the ether of the Internet, a user can save every form of media imaginable and then communicate ideas to the masses - they truly are incredible tools in the cloud. However, while these champions stand out, the Social Media road is paved with many companies with the best intentions - even those that stand among the top tier today.
A few of us may remember Google Buzz, that wunderkind of social sharing that had a out of luck). For Google it can be found in the Google+ settings under Data Liberation. With Facebook you have to look a little harder and find the small and ambiguous link located at the bottom of the account settings page. Finally, with LinkedIn, you can Export your connections, but that's about it.
Based on how often my friends are surprised about the availability of these features, most users either don't know about it, or don't think it's something they should be concerned with - both unfortunate. Users though, they aren't as savvy as their business counterparts, or perhaps the two are much more similar than we would hope.
A few weeks ago we posted a list of Top Five Questions to Ask Your Cloud Provider. We'd like to expand on this a little further with a focus on getting your data. The truth is that your Cloud Vendor, no matter how awesome they are, just may not be around forever. Plus, even the largest companies can be a victim of a malicious attack, meaning that exposure of your data can be coupled with the deletion of your data. Below, we've put together five Steps to ensuring you always have access to your data in the cloud.
- Identify Exposure: A list is the best place to start with any project. You should know how many cloud providers you have and what part of your business is serviced by that particular provider. If you haven't already, be sure to ask the five questions we mentioned in the previous article.
- Map Inter-Dependencies: Once you understand where your data is, it's very likely that you are working in a multiple solution environment. Meaning your data likely exists both in-house, and among multiple cloud providers. A map of how this data relates and the dependencies is just important here as it is with your internal network.
- Develop a Recovery Plan: Your Company should have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan with a heavy influence on maintaining critical IT services and access to data. That plan must include a way to get access to your data in cloud both in times of personal disaster, but also a disaster that might affect your cloud provider(s). Important in this step is to know which data is critical, if you need to maintain a "personal (if available)" copy, and how often it should be updated. Also, how is this data stored, what format will it come to you in? If you simply get a text export, there is likely going to be required development time to present that data to the business in a time of disaster.
- Liberate Your Data: Even though your plan will create a hierarchy of necessary data, you should have a copy of all your data. Business data is just as important as that photo of your kids on Facebook, or your list of connections from LinkedIn. It's important to remember that just because the data is in the cloud, you have not eliminated the risk of losing it.
- Test the Solution: Being prepared means lots of practice. Following the other four steps, you have already figured out what data is critical to keep your business running. Now make certain that you can still operate, getting to that data your business needs quickly and easily.