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Cloud storage issues: security, vendors and infrastructure options


Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at Taneja Group, discusses the most common cloud storage issues facing data storage managers with editors from SearchCloudStorage.com. Can cloud-based backup serve large enterprises? Is security still a concern? How can I get my data back from a cloud provider? These and other issues related to cloud storage are addressed in this TechTalk video.

SearchCloudStorage.com: Has cloud-based backup come up to enterprise standards?

Taneja: [Small- and medium-sized businesses] SMBs can gain a lot from cloud storage, in terms of backup and backup for [disaster recovery] DR purposes. Typically SMBs are the ones that don't have the opportunity to have a second site for DR.

But big companies also have smaller divisions and smaller remote offices, and so on and so forth, so cloud can actually take a lot of that burden away from central IT, and central IT can be assured that the data in those smaller places is actually being protected. But you may not want to have your tier-one application backups happening there. That's not necessarily ready to go into a cloud environment.

SearchCloudStorage.com: How hard is it to get data out of the cloud?

Taneja: It's a question I hear quite often, and I think it's an important one. The short answer is that the majority of cloud vendors and cloud service providers haven't necessarily thought about [those type of cloud storage issues]. They're more interested in stuff coming in than going out. But I've looked into this in terms of what Amazon would do, what Nirvanix would do and what some of these other cloud vendors would do. The only realistic way of doing this is to suck the data back out. Clearly, you can get all the data back out because it's your data, you have access to it and then you move it to another cloud. But the problem usually is that you don't have the bandwidth, especially if you've got a petabyte of data in a cloud.

Nirvanix, for example, has a service where they will ask the customer for all the right credentials. In other words, they take on the task of becoming that customer, its profile, its login passwords and all that kind of stuff. Then, because Nirvanix has very thick pipes going into the outside world, they have a faster way of getting that data out on behalf of the customer. Not everybody has that service right now. My suggestion is always that [a customer] should ask the cloud vendor, "What happens if I want to walk away? How do I get it back?"

SearchCloudStorage.com: What are the infrastructure options for the cloud?

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Taneja: The simple answer is that for public cloud access you can assume that Internet is a way to go in and out. That's the general practice in a public cloud. Now when you talk about private clouds, the private cloud is going to be on your premises. So if it's on your premises, then users are going to get LAN-like speeds on that thing because it's your network. Not only that, but if you have a private cloud and you have, let's say, a remote office, well in that case, the probability that you have a special, private [wide-area network] WAN between those two locations is very high. Maybe the customer is already using Riverbed or some other WAN optimization product. So that comes into play when you have a private cloud and a remote office.

SearchCloudStorage.com: What can companies do besides encryption to protect their data?

Taneja: In terms of security, I think that's probably the primary measure. And you want to ensure that for the people who get access to that storage that there's some connection with Active Directory or eDirectory if you're going to be in a Microsoft environment, or LDAP if you're in a Linux environment. So authentication is clearly an important aspect of this. Just because you put data in the cloud and have it encrypted doesn't mean the data is safe. You have to make sure that only the right people can access that data.

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