Moving to the cloud has many advantages. Spreading the capital costs of hardware and software across multiple organizations saves money. Having system maintained by experts who focus on those systems 24x7 can improve availability. The list goes on and on.
One big question is what happens when the vendor of a critical cloud application goes belly up? Will you see it coming with enough time to plan for and execute a smooth migration to a new cloud provider? Will your business be able to handle the downtime associated with the cloud computing vendor’s demise? Source code escrow is a way to help insure you against a cloud provider going out of business.
Source code escrow forces a cloud application provider to provide copies of their source code to a neutral 3rd party on your behalf. In the event the cloud provider is unable to meet their contractual obligations, you will be given a license and access to the source code to ensure you can continue to run the application in your own environment.
Just having access to the source code isn’t enough though. Here are some tips to consider when using code escrow services for cloud computing providers.
Make sure the code base also has a current executable copy. Having to figure out all the steps needed to compile code in a pinch may not be feasible.
Check with the escrow company on a periodic basis to ensure the vendor is actually putting new code in the vault.
Ensure you have ready access to your data. Having a functioning system is great. Having your data in that system is even better. Ensure that regular backups of your data are going into the vault along with the source code.
Keep a couple of good contacts at the cloud provider. If the company has gone under, those people will be looking for work and you’ll be looking for someone to help run the system in your data center.
Getting code out of escrow typically involves lawyers and possibly the courts. Don’t expect this to be a quick and tidy process.
Even with taking these precautions, having a cloud application provider go out of business will cause serious headaches. Source code escrow services can minimize the long term impact to your business but it won’t help you in the short term. If you’re using cloud computing, part of your operations strategy should be how to deal with short term outages. Be ready to put this plan in motion as you get your code out of escrow and build out the new system.