This was one of the first questions when I opened up for
questions on www.clubcloudcomputing.com
A lot of people have this as their first question, when they
think of using Cloud Computing. And so they should! For the
people who do not think about this from day one are the ones who
are going to get burned.
Your cloud provider, such as Gmail, Amazon, Salesforce, can fail
in a number of ways. It can be a temporary problem, lasting from
minutes to hours. It can also be a more permanent problem, when
they go out of business, or decide that the feature you depend on
will no longer be supported. There is a long list of potential
threats to your cloud usage, and they have all happened in one
way or another to somebody.
My first reaction is always twofold. First, if you are dependent
on IT, you will have these problems already. Your own laptop can
crash, your datacenter can fail. It has all happened before. That
is why risk management is sound business practice.
Cloud computing brings different risks, as well as new ways of handling
them. For example, making a backup in the cloud can actually be
easier than in an office. And cloud providers, unlike a lot of
software vendors typically go through great lengths to allow you
to export your data from their systems.