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Commentary

Cloud Storage Matures

The cloud is becoming tangible and definable. Customers are beginning to store data on it and companies like Bycast, Cleversafe, Amazon and Nirvanix have real customers paying real money to use their products or services. Companies like EMC and HP are bringing legitimacy to the co
The cloud is becoming tangible and definable. Customers are beginning to store data on it and companies like Bycast, Cleversafe, Amazon and Nirvanix have real customers paying real money to use their products or services. Companies like EMC and HP are bringing legitimacy to the concept and companies to watch like ParaScale are moving through the development cycle.Cloud Types First there is more than one type of cloud storage. There is an internal cloud and an external cloud, also known as private and public clouds.

The public cloud is available to anyone with Internet connectivity and it is the responsibility of the cloud storage providers to keep the cloud storage up and running. The downside to a public cloud is the risk you may not be able to access your data if the provider does not do an adequate job of selecting the right infrastructure and operational efficiencies to make sure that you maintain access.

On the positive side however, it is no longer your responsibility! If you do your homework and understand what the provider is using for storage infrastructure and network infrastructure the chances of a prolonged outage are rare. The important point here is what the provider is using matters. Take the time to research it. Are they using a platform that is proven? The commitment of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) provides you a source of legal remedy, it does not provide access to your data. A SLA is not worth the paper it is written on if the provider does not back this with a rock solid infrastructure and procedures.

The other option is for you to go it alone, leverage the technology that makes cloud storage valuable; scalability, data dispersion, ease of management, but keep the cloud behind your firewalls. Clearly there is the assurance that your data is now under your control and, assuming your security is tight, there is greater confidence in its safety.

The other advantage, possibly, is that you can consider other options to the cloud storage wave. While leveraging your backup process should not be considered, (see our article Backup vs. Archive) Disk Archive solutions like those from Permabit and Nexsan are an alternative to consider.

The downside is of course that it is now YOUR responsibility and depending on the size of your organization and what you intend to use the infrastructure for, there is going to be additional thought given to upfront costs, implementation and operation. None of which are deal breakers but are certainly something to consider.

In our next entry we will update our discussion on the roles of these different providers in cloud storage.

Today please attend our webcast on Cloud Storage Infrastructures.

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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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