The Cloud Storage Conundrum

Michael Vizard

When it comes to invoking cloud computing services, IT organizations are using the cloud to primarily address backup and archiving.

IT organizations don't really want to have to buy the IT infrastructure needed to house the data that is rarely accessed. But the problem is that moving data back and forth between on-premise systems and the cloud can be expensive. One of the ways that cloud computing providers make up for providing inexpensive storage resources is by marking up the cost of network bandwidth to access it.

The good news is that we are seeing more offerings such as the Whitewater storage accelerator line of products from Riverbed Technology that specifically focus on accelerating the transfer of data between on-premise systems and cloud computing providers. This week, Riverbed enhanced Whitewater, which essentially applies WAN optimization technologies to storage protocols, with support for EMC NetWorker, Quest vRanger and CA ARCserve backup and recovery software in addition to the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, Symantec's NetBackup and Backup Exec software that Riverbed already supports.

In addition, Riverbed announced that it now supports the Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network cloud computing service alongside Amazon S3 and EMC Atmos.

As data growth continues to spiral out of control, the first real experience that IT organizations are likely to have with cloud computing is probably going to involve storage. But if in the course of that process they discover that there are too many hidden costs when it comes to cloud storage, it's likely to taint their perception of cloud computing for years to come.

Of course, IT organizations need to think long and hard about what data to put in the cloud. After all, 90 percent of the data that is more than 90 days old is never accessed again by anybody. But as Steve Zivanic, Nirvanix vice president of marketing notes, what most IT organizations are looking for is one flat, simple fee to consider no matter how distributed the content might actually be. This is why Nirvanix thinks it's in its best interest to promote the adoption of Whitewater because at least in the company's case, the network bandwidth costs are embedded in the total cost of the service.

Hopefully, the rest of the cloud storage providers will soon come to the same conclusion.

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