Should you trust Software as a Service?

Today, I wanted to continue working on my FlickrMetadataSynchr tool after a break of a month or so. This project uses SaaS in the form of a hosted Team Foundation Server by Microsoft for source control and work item tracking. This SaaS is called CodePlex

Team Foundation Server is known to be a very robust source control system that is based on SQL Server 2005. You can cluster the database tier, you can have hot standby for the application tier, etc.

Yet, Microsoft was able to corrupt the source control database and not have a proper backup schema in place. I.e., they thought they were making backups of the database, yet they weren't.

That will teach me not to trust a third party with my precious data. So based on my current experiences I don't trust Software as a Service (SaaS).

Even worse. Three weeks after the fact, Microsoft still cannot tell if the source control data will ever be restored. At some point you just have to admit you screwed up and say that nothing can be done about it anymore.

Luckily, I still have the latest version of my sources stored locally. But it is the nature of an integrated source control and work item tracking system that you can't keep a full local backup of the state of the system. If Microsoft (or another vendor) screws up you loose a lot of historic data.

Another SaaS that I have become to depend on quite heavily is Gmail. Considering the perpetual beta status of Google Mail, I have never fully trusted them to keep my data safe from disaster. I am very diligent in backing up my mail locally in Outlook PST files using the POP3 access that Gmail provides.

Do you trust SaaS?

One thought on “Should you trust Software as a Service?

  1. Ruud Campsteijn

    SLAs don't guard against operator error, but they define how many errors the operator is allowed to make 😉 If the agreed level of service is not achieved, the SLA defines what compensation you receive. If you the SLA is satisfactory and gives you enough security concerning uptime etc., there is no reason why SaaS and other hosting solutions would not work. The key is in the SLA IMO.

    Of course, no-one is stopping you from defining your own fallback-scenario, such as another hosting provider that can kick in within a certain amount of time as soon as your primary provider dies on you. Another thing you could do is making backups yourself, even remotely - although that's not very feasibly if you're dealing with large amounts of data.

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