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What happens to data when your cloud provider evaporates?

Lucas Mearian | April 26, 2011
There's no way to directly migrate data between service providers.

Earlier this month, Iron Mountain announced it had stopped accepting new customers for its Virtual File Store service and was planning to shut it down over the next two years.

Then, last week, it was startup Cirtas Systems' turn; it announced it was leaving the market to regroup.

According to Gartner, pure-play public cloud storage service providers have had a modest level of adoption. Now, only Nirvanix and Zetta remain as pure cloud providers of network attached storage.

It's only natural that the herd of public cloud service providers is being culled, Taneja said. "The industry is overreacting. And, it's still in that overhyped stage."

Backlash coming?

With all the recent closures, Taneja said he worries there'll be a backlash against cloud storage services, even though they can offer good value in the right circumstances.

For example, Cirtas presented its services as "tier 2" primary storage with all the trimmings of an enterprise-class product, including data snapshots, cloning, thin provisioning, and WAN optimization, Taneja said. But the service didn't scale well.

"The hype is just out of sync with the reality," he said. "I'm not saying this is not the right time to be seriously looking at [the] cloud, but people have to go in with lower expectations. They must walk before them can run."

There are companies now offering "secure data deletion" in the cloud - or what amounts to crypto-erasure. That refers to the deletion of encryption keys, so that even if the data is ever accessed it can't be read in an unencrypted form.

Hybrid options

One of the more popular services over the past year or so has been a type of hybrid storage cloud, where an appliance is placed at the customer's site, and backup data is stored there first and then replicated off to a cloud storage service provider. Examples of those are Nasuni, StorSimple and TwinStrata. Their boxes have different features, but at their most basic they store data onsite and replicate it to a major cloud storage provider such as Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure or AT&T Synaptic Storage.

Cloud storage provider Nasuni offers a NAS file server with 1TB of storage capacity that replicates compressed and deduplicated data to either AT&T's or Amazon's cloud storage service. A Nasuni customer gets an appliance onsite, and after an initial compressed backup to the cloud, the service takes ongoing data snapshots and sends them off to the online storage provider of choice. Each time data is sent over, it's encrypted and the keys are stored on customer's file server.


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