Your Cloud Provider Is Toast. Now What?

Your cloud provider is great. Your cloud provider is cheap. Your cloud provider is out of business.

Now what do you do?

If your favorite consumer cloud service goes out of business or simply feels it's time to end-of-life a particular application, it's frustrating but life goes on. More often than not, you weren't paying for the service, anyway. But for an enterprise, losing access to a preferred SaaS application can be devastating.

Just ask Xeround's customers.

Learning From Xeround's Failure

Recently the Database-as-a-Service (DaaS) provider terminated its cloud database service, giving free users a week to pack up and move on, and paid customers just two weeks:

"Xeround’s leadership forum has recently decided to re-focus the company’s effort. This means we will no longer be able to support our service over public clouds, across all of our currently active data centers... We ask you to please export your database instance and migrate your database to another service of your choosing before the termination date... We regret the inconvenience this causes you."

It's a nice thought, if not particularly helpful. Moving to an alternative solution is easier said than done. Migration between products, cloud or otherwise, is never particularly easy, often by design.

In the case of Xeround, which promises 100% MySQL compatibility, migrating to MySQL might not be difficult. But what if you wanted to move to an alternative database? Or what if instead of a database or other somewhat swappable infrastructure you were hoping to migrate off a SaaS application?

Good luck with that.

Open Source As A Safety Net

Could open source help with this? While not a panacea, giving users both a cloud service and an on-premises deployment, with the latter offered as open source, would ensure a robust back-up plan. It might also give them comfort to use the cloud service in the first place.

As Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos argues, infrastructure software is almost entirely open source now as developers "require access to the details [of their cloud infrastructure] — not just to have the ability to do the same, but for the ability to verify the quality and modify to fit their needs." Businesses are embracing the cloud because it yields cost and convenience benefits, as Forrester's Ted Schadler posits. Add to this developer peace-of-mind and it's a near-perfect combination.

This isn't really about source code. While some will want to tinker with code, doing so will generally void your contract with a vendor. Instead it's about security once the vendor fails or cancels a service: moving a cloud service to your data center, even if only temporarily, buys you time and makes the initiatl investment in the cloud much less precarious.

What's Your Back-Up Plan?

As organizations move to the cloud, increasingly with a 'cloud first' policy, having a back-up in mind is important. Open source is one option that seems to be working for SugarCRM, Eucalyptus and others. But what's your cloud back-up plan? Frequent data dumps? If you had the chance to migrate your end-of-life SaaS application to an on-premises, open-source deployment, would you do it?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.