The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Is Cloud Reality Beginning to Take Hold?

Posted by riverbedtest on September 28, 2011

6a00e5508a3ca78834014e8bb51a30970d-800wi As I’ve been out talking to people about using the public cloud as a target for data protection, I continue to be surprised by how much pain many organizations regularly go through for backup and recovery, as well as the variety of methods used to protect company data. Of course, the old standby is tape, and even in my days at Data Domain, where the mantra “Tape Sucks” was like a religion, everyone was predicting the rapid demise of that 1928 invention’s role in IT. And yes, tape has lost some if its place in the market for data protection, but it continues to hang around, despite all of the pain that I hear from IT professionals about it.

Why? There are probably as many theories about that as who shot Kennedy but I think it is safe to say that tape holds on for a couple of reasons:

• Disk is still relatively expensive, even if deduped, and still complex to manage
• Some (not the majority of) regulatory requirements can best be filled by tape
• Tape is a known quantity, familiar, “better the devil you know” and all that

So people seem to make do, kludging together a patchwork of solutions to keep ahead of that dreaded backup window, often at the expense of any kind of DR planning. In fact, for most SMBs and SMEs, data protection is only a secondary part of someone’s IT job. So it doesn’t always get attacked with the same vigor and focus as other IT issues. Like I said, people make do.

But that is changing. I’ve been seeing people start to take a look at the potential of doing away with all the cost and hassle of standard data protection solutions and replacing it with the public cloud. I know about all the hype about “The Cloud” but over the course of this year, the view of the cloud I’ve seen has become more measured, with people asking deeper questions about the implications of using the cloud. For storage in particular, professionals are starting to see that not all storage lends itself as easily to the cloud. The performance implications and management difficulties of moving primary storage to the cloud has tripped up both trial customers and solution providers and has strengthened the focus for cloud storage on functions such as backup and archiving, which are much better suited for the cloud in terms of performance requirements and storage methodologies. And the majority of people in that camp are looking to jettison the shackles of tape backup and adopt cloud storage.

Mainstream backup solutions are also promoting the extension of data protection to the public cloud. Last week, I wrote about IBM recently releasing a video showing how the Riverbed® Whitewater® cloud storage gateway enables Tivoli Storage Manger users to deploy a drop-in Whitewater appliance and essentially convert all the headaches of managing a backup infrastructure into freed up capital and hours that can be spent on more pressing IT needs.

Humerdeinck_8_Track I’m sure there will be some data protection issues for which tape is a compelling solution, at least for the near future. But there’s a reason you don’t find 8-track or cassette players in cars anymore, nor video tapes available from movie rental outfits. It’s also getting more difficult to find outfits that rent hard copies of movies, and even Netflix is separating off its DVD business and applying its golden brand name to its business based on cloud streaming of videos (BTW, Netflix uses Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) for its own business).

Trends are unmistakably toward more and more use of cloud storage. As technologies like Whitewater address the difficulties and/or concerns about using the cloud, this trend can only accelerate. Will tape and disk disappear? No. But if a TSM user can drop a small box in their datacenter and essentially get access to fast, secure, infinitely scalable storage, the rules of the game have undoubtedly changed and cloud storage will command a big seat at the data protection table.  

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2 Responses to “Is Cloud Reality Beginning to Take Hold?”

  1. alen said

    how do you back up the customers’ data? to another cloud?

  2. Alen,
    Not sure what you mean by “another” cloud. If you are thinking of a company’s own infrastructure as a private cloud, then yes, Whitewater takes backup data from any leading backup tool, dedupes it, compresses it, and encrypts it, then stores a local copy on its internal disk cache and another copy in whichever of the major cloud service providers you choose, e.g., Amazon, AT&T, Nirvanix. All of the headaches and costs of tape backup and vaulting go away, meaning you can spend your time on other things besides backup.

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