Cloud Is Here to Stay

Arthur Cole

A promising new technology suffers a technical setback and judgment is swift that the party is over -- that we all knew it was too good to be true.

That pattern reasserted itself again this week with the outage on T-Mobile's Sidekick service, which cut close to 800,000 users off from their data. Immediately, the buzz started flying about the inherent insecurity of the cloud, despite the fact that Microsoft had restored most of the data within a few days.

The fact is, cloud storage is one of those inevitable developments that will continue to gain momentum even as high-profile disruptions mount. EC3 and Google have had several major snafus over the past few years, yet they're still here. And how many times has your local area network gone down this year? I'll bet no one in IT was talking about scrapping the whole thing.

Here's a prediction for you: Cloud computing will continue to thrive simply because the economics are so appealing. At the same time, its ability to integrate into existing data infrastructures is improving.

Amid the Sidekick debacle, few people noticed several significant developments aimed at forwarding the cloud's promise of providing a vast pool of storage and other resources. One was Iron Mountain's decision to open up the APIs for its Archive Services Platform to allow third-party developers to access its capabilities. What makes this significant is that Iron Mountain is the grand daddy of off-site data storage, with a nearly 50-year history of offering everything from simple paper warehousing to online storage services. The company is also offering a program to help developers integrate their systems with its own SOAP and REST Web Services platforms.

Couple that move with the news that the Storage Networking Industry Association has launched a Cloud Storage Initiative aimed at standardizing the disparate formats that are currently circulating on the cloud, and it becomes clear that the industry is intent on providing an open environment in which services can interoperate across multiple platforms. How successful they will be depends on industry support, but momentum is at least moving in the right direction, with the goal being nothing less than a universal Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) that stretches across all cloud environments.

What the cloud will not do, of course, is remove the responsibility for data availability and security from the CIO. Just because data is housed in another location does not mean it's somebody else's problem.

In that vein then, the cloud is nothing new. If security is increased substantially because data is stored locally, then how much more secure would it be to remove it off the digital tier altogether? Only a few of you can probably remember the paper days.

Oops, forgot -- paper can burn. Better chisel all your data onto stone.

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