Cloud
2/17/2009
09:18 AM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
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Getting Data To The Cloud

In a recent entry I gave some examples of how cloud storage is maturing. There are companies offering cloud based storage solutions both as a service, like Amazon and Nirvanix, and as a product to sell to service providers or for internal use, like Bycast and

In a recent entry I gave some examples of how cloud storage is maturing. There are companies offering cloud based storage solutions both as a service, like Amazon and Nirvanix, and as a product to sell to service providers or for internal use, like Bycast and ParaScale. Some of these companies even have revenue customers and they are organizations of all sizes, as we stated in our recent white paper, Cloud Storage Is A Reality. What is missing, however, is how to get data to these cloud storage platforms.Part of the challenge of getting data to the cloud is how cloud storage solution providers deliver access. Most support a variety of access methods, including common Internet Protocols WebDAV and HTTP, and now many are adding direct support for NFS and CIFS. With these more common protocols the cloud becomes a mount point on your network, but does incur some potential performance bottlenecks prone to these protocols, CIFS in particular. The performance issues have to be balanced against ease of use.

Interestingly, as part of that access, some suppliers are even implementing a local NAS cache that gives the users local speed and access while it trickles the data to and from the cloud. This also can resolve some of the performance issues related to CIFS and NFS by converting to a more Internet-friendly protocol at the appliance. With this type of technology in place, there's no reason that you could not use a real-time compression appliance such as Storwize's to actually compress that data prior to it being stored in the cloud. This effectively cuts your monthly cloud storage bill in half or more, as well as optimizing your connection speed.

There also are a host of companies, especially in the public cloud space, that are offering software which will synchronize data to the cloud like Dropbox and others. This allows you to again have that local access and yet have it stored in the cloud, which is ideal for individuals with multiple machines and companies wanting to collaborate and share data.

There also are companies doing more than just storing data. For example, Soonr will synchronize your data and convert that data on the fly to a format that the device you're accessing it with can read. If you want to view your presentation on your iPhone, for example, it will convert the slides to a series of .JPEGs.

Lastly, we will see archive software and backup software vendors begin to have an option to have cloud storage be a form of archive or backup target with native support of the above protocols or by using the cloud supplier's API set. This could even lead to "cloud RAID" or multicloud copy, an idea I heard about from a stealth startup company called Lookwithus that provides rich media collaboration tools to the cloud.

Cloud RAID or multicloud copy could be an ideal solution for those who are sold on the cloud storage concept but not a particular cloud storage supplier. This would allow you to move data into two cloud providers at the same time. Assuming the software can track the existence of both copies, management would be seamless and concerns about access or viability of a particular provider would be greatly minimized.

View our Web cast on Cloud Storage Infrastructures to learn more.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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