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Storage In The Cloud

I've recently evolved from a believer to a practitioner of cloud storage. Based on my organization's data growth, complexity and increased need for uninterrupted delivery (5 9's assurance), I reviewed cloud storage solutions from Amazon, Nirvanix and Rackspace's Mosso. It's worth noting that several other big name players are entering the storage as a service market, however, are extremely new or more likely do not yet have commercially available cloud based storage solutions. Google is preparing a launch for its storage in the cloud solution currently code named GDrive. EMC is rearchitecting some its newly acquired storage solutions for enterprise cloud storage solutions code named Hulk and Maui. IBM is advancing several storage in the cloud solutions under the code name Blue Cloud Umbrella.

With a plethora of vendors creating their own storage buzzwords and lining up for a giant green field opportunity, it's important to recognize that cloud storage does not refer to any type of Web accessible storage. According to Gartner analyst Stan Zaffos, Enterprises should first think of cloud computing as massively scalable IT capabilities delivered to external customers using Internet technologies, and then think of cloud storage as that which supports cloud computing applications.

While I was really impressed with the Mosso virtualization management and offering, Mosso's data storage resides only in Rackspace's Dallas data center, although the company is in the process of replicating customer data to their UK data center location. Pricing was comparable among the cloud storage solutions. Nirvanix charges 18 cents per gigabyte of storage per month as well as 18 cents per gigabyte uploaded and downloaded. Amazon charges 15 cents per gigabyte of storage per month plus 10 cents to 18 cents per gigabyte of data transfer. At the end of my cloud storage as a service evaluation, Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) delivered the best total cost of ownership (TCO) for our particular storage environment.

While Amazon spews information about its S3 applications and architecture, the company is silent with regard to delivery infrastructure. Competitor Nirvanix claims that Amazon's delivery network is made of several custom software applications built on top of file system technologies running on Intel-based storage servers located across six data center locations on the US East Coast, US West Coast, Europe and Asia. By the of 2008, Amazon internally suggests they will grow to more than 20 global data center locations. Amazon seems to replicate customer data in either two or three locations. Amazon, or any other vendor, isn't without uptime risk. It was only last February that Amazon's S3 service suffered a multiple hour outage that Amazon attributed to an increase in authentication requests (I suspect a widely distributed DDOS attack, however, Amazon doesn't confirm that). Nonetheless, despite the downtime, no data was lost or compromised, Amazon has implemented additional safeguards and no downtime has since been incurred. I've been with service for just over 60 days now. The implementation, maintenance and management have been without surprises and I'm clearly sold on both the cloud storage concept and Amazon's S3 service.

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May 24, 2008 at 11:10 PM in SaaS Storage | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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This blog is focused on hosted, on-demand or software as a service (collectively SAAS) business solutions. To qualify as a SaaS solution, the service should be offered on a subscription (pay as you go) purchase price, housed in a multi-tenant data center and delivered remotely over the Web to web browsers. Business applications include about any front office or back office business system. Frequently cited business applications include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems, Enterprise Resource Planning(ERP) systems, Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems, Manufacturing Systems and Human Resource (HR) systems.