Clouds vs. Clouds: What IT Professionals Can Learn From Google’s Lightning Strike Data Loss

    October 30, 2015

    By Scott Adams

    Four recent lightning strikes near a Google data center nearly cost some customers valuable data. How can developers and consumers alike avoid these near-misses in the future? (Other than changing the weather, of course!)

    In the past decade, the complete storage of our data in digital spaces has gone from idea in the sky to virtual cloud, providing faster access and diffused risk across an endless number of geographically diverse servers. Unfortunately, storing our valuable data in the cloud is not always as secure as one would hope.

    During a recent storm in Belgium reported by the BBC, one of Google’s data centers experienced complications after the local power grid was struck by lightning multiple times. Google later reported that, while some data was lost, the percentage was miniscule.

    These instances remind us how important it is for both providers and consumers to understand the safest and most efficient ways to keep our critical data protected.

    Backup your Backups

    As Occam’s Razor reminds us, the simplest solution is often the best solution. That’s to say that there’s no trick to safe storage — just make duplicate copies. While both hard drives and the cloud are useful, neither is entirely foolproof. The more places you store your data, the smaller your chances are of losing it for good.

    Know Where your Data is Going

    With such an incredible variety of data storage options (the best of which have been listed here by PC Magazine) available, companies should have no trouble finding a provider that fits their unique needs and specifications.

    But when entrusting a company with your personal information, it’s important to understand how your data is secured, as well as the methods in place to prevent data loss. In the event of emergency, companies must ensure that they have the capacity to uphold their SLAs, and to that end, most cloud providers freely share a wealth of relevant information for both tech-savvy and casual users.

    A Word for the Developers

    The recent incident also highlights the need for developers and cloud providers to create multiple system redundancies to protect against a single fail point. Overall, Google’s system response and public messaging were stellar  a freak incident with the potential to do significant damage only affected 0.00001% of disc space at the data center. But not all close calls will work in your favor.

    Fortunately, Google’s automatic auxiliary systems and backup batteries played a large role in preventing data loss on a larger scale. But the effects of other natural disasters, like flood and fire, can’t always be averted through emergency failsafes. These situations are unlikely, but do show that traditional, office-based server systems are still an invaluable part of any company’s data protection strategy.

    Stay Current With TeamQuest

    And besides data loss, system failure can inhibit a company’s ability to effectively manage their capacity, potentially creating expensive downtime. TeamQuest can help businesses most efficiently manage their capacity, allowing for excess breathing room should a disaster strike. Cloud environments offer immense opportunities for businesses to grow and manage their IT offerings, but they should never serve as a last line of defense.

    (Main image credit: veggiefrog/flickr)

    Category: data-management