Firefighters assessing

Where is my data?

Mark Hall - 11 March 2021

Some customers of the Cloud hosting provider OVH have had their hosted systems brought down overnight after a fire destroyed one of their data centres in Strasbourg and has severely damaged another.

During the recent Covid-19 pandemic many organisations have been making greater use of cloud hosting services and the convenience which they offer. Unfortunately it is too easy to assume that if your systems and data are hosted in ‘the cloud’ that you do not need to worry about the physical location or infrastructure – and some providers even use this as part of their sales pitch.

As organisations make more use of cloud-based services it is important to know where your data is located.

Where is my data?

Part of the appeal of moving your systems and data to a Cloud provider is that you no longer need to be concerned about connectivity, physical servers and environmental controls. However, as the OVH fire has shown, your data will physically reside on servers inside data centres and these are real world locations which are susceptible to risks.

Before entrusting your data to a Cloud provider we would strongly recommend finding out where it will be physically located and what replication and disaster recovery services are included. As a general rule the cheaper the package you sign up to with a provider the less resilience and recovery options are going to be included. Some customers only become aware of the lack of data recovery options when it is too late.

Protect your data

Without a doubt the growth in Software as a Service (SaaS) and Cloud based hosting services have brought many advantages and efficiency savings to organisations in recent years. Writing your own software and hosting your own servers is hard work and finding the right team to work with is not easy. However something which hasn’t changed is the value of data to an organisation. SaaS and Cloud providers want their customers to believe that their data is safe and the use of their services is as hassle free as possible – it’s part of what makes their offering attractive.

When you decide to use a SaaS or Cloud provider it is important to consider how you would recover if they encountered a major failure which resulted in your data being lost. Keeping secure encrypted backups of your data stored elsewhere is the ideal solution, but this isn’t always possible. At the very least you should take regular copies of your data in whatever format you are able. At least this will give you a fighting chance of recovering from a disaster such as the catastrophic fire which OVH encountered.

OWA Digital Ltd. are a UK-based digital agency with over 25 years' experience delivering outstanding solutions in design, development, hosting and support. Please contact us to discuss any requirements you may have.

Mark Hall
Director & Founder