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Finally OK With Cloud Storage? What to Know Before Switching Data Providers

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A decade ago, storing data in the cloud seemed risky. Today, cloud-based, software-as-a-service applications such as G Suite, Office 365, and Salesforce have made outsourcing data storage simple. But not risk-free. One big issue: With each of them, data is stored in a format that won't work well outside that application. It can make switching from one to another tricky.

Just ask the Intern Group, a startup that places students in international internships. In 2016, the company consolidated its data. Some was in Google Sheets, some was in the customer-relationship management application Highrise, and some was in a second CRM app, Contactually. Intern Group wanted to consolidate within Vtiger, yet another cloud CRM app.

Moving databases was hard enough--and then there were the emails. "We have partnerships with universities," explains Kevin Harper, director of technology and operations. "Think about relationship building--there's a long email history."

Highrise returned those emails in an unusable form. "Every single email we ever had with a particular partner, we got it back in one really long text file," he says. Frustrated, Harper hired a developer to write code that would convert the emails into a usable format, which cost about $5,500. Next time, he says, he'll find out in detail what will happen if Intern Group wants its data back before signing with any cloud........

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