Friday, February 13, 2009

Know How to Get Out of Dodge Before You Go There - Can You Get Your Data Out of the Cloud?

Many years ago while still a student I got the chance to travel around Europe by train. Low budget, high fun. A lesson I soon learned was that the first thing you had to do on arrival in a new town was to figure out how you're going to get back out. Served me well when someone tried to mug me in West Berlin and I no longer wanted to be there... (This was January 1990 and the Wall was 'down' but still there.)

A similar rule of thumb applies in Cloud Computing and SaaS. Matt Asay, a machine of a blogger, today talked about the need to be able to get your data out of Cloud Computing services.

For me, guaranteeing open data is the most critical component of ensuring that cloud computing doesn't replace our desktop chains with cloud chains.
Oh so true.

I'm interested in this in the specific context of email and collaboration services. If someone chooses to go with a SaaS email provider, what avenues will they have to leave that provider with their dignity and emails intact at some point in the future?

Having the same software available from the SaaS provider and as on-premise software will go a long way.

Standard protocols like IMAP, LDAP, and calDAV will also be useful tools for data extraction. Gmail uses this approach to some extent now. As an example, they'll gladly import and export entire mail accounts via IMAP.

What considerations for 'data freedom' in a SaaS world are you worrying about in email, calendaring, and collaboration?

Photo credit: Lynn

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