3:AM outage highlights need for cloud-based business continuity

Companies must take steps to ensure the security of their data in the cloud, experts say, as magazine nearly loses 12 years of archives

The loss of 12 years of archived articles by 3:AM Magazine should serve as a timely reminder to end users about the importance of keeping tabs on their cloud suppliers.    

The online literary magazine encountered difficulties earlier this month after the company hosting its servers pulled the plug without warning. This resulted in nearly all of the site’s content, generated since its launch in 1999, disappearing from the web.

What makes the story even more extraordinary is that 3:AM had used the same DNS host since it first went live and during that time no independent backups of the site’s archives had been made.

Ed Champion, managing editor of blog Reluctant Habits, managed to track down the owner of 3:AM’s hosting company, Brandon Reece, who said he did not realise anyone was still using his service.

“This was a rather unusual case where both the host and content provider were not minding the store,” Champion told Cloud Pro.

“As someone who has attempted to be fairly diligent about backing content up, I was stunned to learn that the 3:AM crew hadn’t backed up its material, especially as so much of it was historical.”

Thanks to Champion's intervention, the site was fully restored on 7 July.

Marcie Terman, business development director at online backup specialist DATAFORT, said the case highlights the need for companies to be wary of who they partner with when they move to the cloud.

“The problem is that anyone with a rack and a telephone can say they are a cloud service provider and it actually is a serious, complex business to provide a proper level of service,” she told Cloud Pro.

 “When a company is looking to move their infrastructure, [they] should only speak to companies who will provide SLAs for their service. [That means] even if the company goes into receivership, it will be to the benefit of the creditors to keep services running.”

She also said companies should try and split the responsibility for storing and backing up data between two or more providers.

“If your primary storage company gets into trouble (technical or otherwise), splitting the responsibility means the backup company will be able to pick up the slack,” she added.