Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cloud Data Storage IT

Why Corporate Cloud Storage Doesn't Add Up 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-your-data-in-the-buzzword dept.
snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia sees few business IT situations that could make good use of full cloud storage services, outside of startups. 'As IT continues in a zigzag path of figuring out what to do with this "cloud" stuff, it seems that some companies are getting ahead of themselves. In particular, the concept of outsourcing storage to a cloud provider puzzles me. I can see some benefits in other cloud services (though I still find the trust aspect difficult to reconcile), but full-on cloud storage offerings don't make sense outside of some rare circumstances.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Corporate Cloud Storage Doesn't Add Up

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:27PM (#39119797)

    I work for a printing company... cloud storage companies call us all the time with the pitches. Then they ask .. "how much data are you currently backing up?" .. we say "around 38 terabyte's" .. they say .. "no .. we aren't asking what your archives are, we are asking what your daily backups are." we say "we back up once a week. our weekly backups are around 38 terabytes." Then they say "that is a little more than we can handle" so I ask "well what can you handle?" almost every one of them has said they generally look for companies that have between 500GB and 1TB of storage. I guess if you fit that spec, it would work.

    • That sounds like someone with a computer with a couple of external hard drives plugged in using cloud as a buzzword.

      Although I've always been curious how Amazon can offer pricing for 5 petabytes and above.

      • "That sounds like someone with a computer with a couple of external hard drives plugged in using cloud as a buzzword."

        That sound a customer restriction to me. I can own a bazillion petabytes worth of storage but if you are in the other side of a cable modem there's no way you can exchange with me 38TB a week.

    • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:59PM (#39120611) Homepage Journal

      I have the same issue. I work for a small suburban newspaper, and even our hot data set is over 1TB, plus append-only archival data of more than 4TB.

      When I tell these "cloud backup" providers this they do a double-take and then start talking laughably high prices or they just back off and say they can't really handle our archival data set. It's quite pathetic when my 10TB backup storage server in a fire-resistant, water-resistant enclosure in the shed cost under $5k when built - and that was when 10x1TB disks was a lot so the disks cost over $2500 by themselves.

      Because I'm in Australia I also have the issue of bandwidth. I'd need a backup provider to peer with my ISP via a local peering point that offers unmetered traffic; with 100GB/month limits considered very big here I couldn't possibly back up over a metered link. Even then, my redundant two ADSL2+ links achive about 6Mbit/750kbit and 4Mbit/500kbit per second each, so I'd probably need to pay to run fibre from the nearest line along the train line (est $50,000) and pay over $1000/month for a fibre service just to talk to the backup storage host.

      I'm negotiating to move our backup server to a business down the street and run an 802.11n point-to-point directional link between us instead. We each get to fail over to each others' Internet services if necessary, we exchange backup storage, and neither of us gets to pay through the nose for it. It's not as good as a fast link to a DC somewhere, but it's a hell of a lot more practical.

      The other issue with cloud backups arises when you need that 5TB (mine) or 38TB (yours) in a hurry, for disaster recovery. You can't exactly run down the street and grab the server with its disk array then restore over 1Gbit ethernet or direct to locally attached SAS/eSATA/whatever. Nope, you have to download all that data over whatever Internet link you have access to. If that's not the dedicated fast link your premises has (say, if they've burned down) then you are screwed.

      I'll keep my primary backups within driving distance, thanks.

      • by dadioflex (854298)
        A business down the street? As I see it, off-site storage - cloud... whatever - and even hosted servers are fine technologies for disaster recovery. If your block or neighbourhood gets caught up in a big fire, earthquake or flood having your off-site back-up "down the street" might not be as helpful as you hoped. You even acknowledge this.

        The SME company I work at is currently looking at new accounts software, and we've been investigating using hosted servers for just about everything. Our data is nothin
        • While I like the *idea* of cloud hosting making the office portable, it only works for some kinds of work, and has its own downsides.

          Australia has only a couple of big international data links, and they've been known to go down when cables get cut by idiot trawlers. This usually causes severe congestion on the other links and I would NOT want to be running my business off those links when this happens. If you're not in .AU/.NZ, this probably isn't an issue for you, and in .AU or .NZ one can always host with

        • If your block or neighbourhood gets caught up in a big fire, earthquake or flood having your off-site back-up "down the street" might not be as helpful as you hoped.

          What do you mean by "or"? In Australia they have all three at once!

      • Surely the issue is not how much data you have, but how much bandwidth you need.

        You can physically perform the initial transfer, so no problem if it's 1GB or 100TB.

        The question is, do you need to access more of that than the bandwidth can carry?

        If you need to extensively modify all of that data each day, then clearly cloud won't work for you if those modifications require lots of data from outside the cloud data centre.

        RS

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The other issue with cloud backups arises when you need that 5TB (mine) or 38TB (yours) in a hurry, for disaster recovery.

        LTO-5 drive is roughly $2K USD. Tapes are roughly $55/per. Uncompressed capacity is 1.5TB. Compressed is 3.0TB, assuming 2:1 compression. Your data is two tapes worth of data. And if your needs are larger, you can always add more sophicated software and multiple drives and still be way ahead in the long run.

        Like so many others, you've forgotten there is a reason tape exists. Network bandwidth isn't always the best solution - for all the reasons you point out. And givent the cost of many network archival sol

        • I used to use DDS4 back in the dark old days, and I quickly became all too familiar with their tendency to be write-only media even with regular drive cleaning, tape replacement and occasional tape re-tensioning. I know LTO is better, but when I was building this backup server high-capacity LTO was also eye-bleedingly expensive.

          LTO has been forced down dramatically by effective competition from rotating magnetic media. Tapes and drives sure weren't those kind of prices when I built that system! I priced al

        • OK, I've gone and looked into the current situation with tape. All prices are in AUD from vendors in Australia; 1 AUD = 1.06 USD at the moment, so they're close enough to the the same.

          LTO-5 drives are now AU$2500 to AU$3000 + SAS HBA, a good year or two after I built that backup server. Most of our data set is data in formats that're already efficiently compressed with JPEG, LZO, PNG, deflate/zlib, etc, there's no significant compression gain; tapes can be presumed to be 1.5TB. The weekly hot set is over 1T

  • Uh, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:32PM (#39119857) Journal
    Ok. Somebody is completely off-their-head nuts, either the author or the people he is writing about(and I have my suspicions about the author...)

    To the best of my knowledge, nobody pitches this 'cloud storage' stuff as a replacement for local storage, unless they are also selling some hosted software-as-a-vendor-lock-in 'solution'. It's a sufficiently overwhelmingly bad idea that nobody even tries. So, what exactly is he wasting an article on?

    Yup, SATA drives are cheap and reasonably zippy. Y'know what's less cheap, more complex, and not as zippy? Good Backups, including offsite. And that, (along with the web hosting and CDN focused stuff) is what the 'cloud' people are selling. No shit delivering files over the internet with a 200ms round-trip and a teeny pipe isn't going to replace the local storage or a network share a couple of GigE hops away. Replace that balky tape library the next time it conks out, though? Not certain; but much more conceivable...
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Yeah, especially since most local storage these days are appliances that pretty much manage themselves. And there's that physical access part of security -- if it's locked in your machine room with no path to the outside world, it's a lot harder to steal your data.

      • Re:Uh, what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TPoise (799382) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:25PM (#39120333) Homepage
        The problem is that file storage is so dad-gum expensive these days. 15cents a gb at Amazon makes it $150 per month for a terabyte of storage. You're better off buying the 1TB drives yourself and rotating it to an employee's house every night. Sure there are some cheaper alternatives (nimbus.io) but even at 6cents a GB with Nimbus, you're still better off buying the external drives yourself.
        • by hawguy (1600213)

          The problem is that file storage is so dad-gum expensive these days. 15cents a gb at Amazon makes it $150 per month for a terabyte of storage. You're better off buying the 1TB drives yourself and rotating it to an employee's house every night.

          Sure there are some cheaper alternatives (nimbus.io) but even at 6cents a GB with Nimbus, you're still better off buying the external drives yourself.

          But you've got to pay someone to keep track of those drives (you do have more than one, right?), and shuttle them back and forth from home (if you're in earthquake country, he better not live too close to the office. If he spends a few hours/month doing these daily drive swaps, then it may be worth paying Amazon $150/month to store the data for you and you can replicate your data offsite more than once/day.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            ...but it's usually done by existing personnel -- people you'd be paying anyway.

            • Do your staff also have fireproof safes and armoured cars? I'm not sure where the capacity / logistics cost curves intersect but once the robot, tapes, fireproof safe and sealable, serial-numbered tape containers were purchased I found a very significant recurring cost of backing up a site of about 100 people was the weekly visit from the security company that transferred last week's tapes from our fireproof safe to their 24/7 monitored, environment-controlled, fire and flood-proof storage facility. I dr

              • by roc97007 (608802)

                Ok, I used to do technical competency testing for backup solutions. I've written papers on it. Most of the tracking and recovery is done in software these days. Has been for years. If you're keeping spreadsheets to track which box to get back, you're doing it wrong.

                Geosynch means synchronizing your data with a geographically remote location. This does not necessarily protect you from data corruption, but it does protect you from hardware failure. This is easiest to do for companies with offices in rem

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          Exactly.

        • Now try being in Australia, where in addition to those downsides we have tightly metered traffic on Internet links, not just for international traffic over the undersea cables but for ALL traffic not to/from our local ISP.

          People trying to sell cloud storage in this environment are off their nut.

        • by donaldm (919619)

          The problem is that file storage is so dad-gum expensive these days. 15cents a gb at Amazon makes it $150 per month for a terabyte of storage. You're better off buying the 1TB drives yourself and rotating it to an employee's house every night. Sure there are some cheaper alternatives (nimbus.io) but even at 6cents a GB with Nimbus, you're still better off buying the external drives yourself.

          Buying a 1TB drive for your backup may be fine for your home computer (I do that myself) but tell that to companies who backup peta-bytes of data a day. Don't know them try your local Telco's. Even local Councils require backups of many TB per week.

          BTW. Can your 1TB backup solution allow for recovery of data that is 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months even up to 7 years or more old? By law many companies are required to keep data up to 7 years old.

          A professional backup and recovery solution can range fro

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            Nobody seriously considers a single 1TB drive to be an enterprise solution to anything. But an enterprise solution has the funds for dozens, maybe hundreds of drives. After all, what is the data worth?

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Yeah, especially since most local storage these days are appliances that pretty much manage themselves. And there's that physical access part of security -- if it's locked in your machine room with no path to the outside world, it's a lot harder to steal your data.

        While it may be much harder to steal the data that's locked in your machine room, if that's the only place it exists, you're guaranteed to lose it when you have a machine room disaster (fire, fire supression release, transformer explosion, etc).

        Most enterprise backup software will encrypt your data for offsite storage. A cloud storage vendor can also offer encryption options where you are the only one with the decryption key.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          Geo synchronization. I used to teach that. It works really well. Really, these solutions are well known.

    • Re:Uh, what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:02PM (#39120121) Homepage

      I don't know if you have been in corporate IT lately but these people selling the crap are indeed selling this as the end-all-be-all of computing. Everything (data storage, web hosting, virtual servers, desktops, crm and similar databasing needs, e-mail, ...) is supposed to be in the cloud at a much lower price point. Microsoft is one of the worst offenders as they sell their entire suite (Exchange, AD, ShitPoint, Office ...) in the "cloud" these days, promise the world but have no way to deliver.

      If you have an IT organization with more than 2 IT people where stuffing the "cloud" (or having everything hosted for you) is going to end up being cheaper you have a really badly managed department that is extremely bloated.

      For enterprise data storage: average price is $1,000/TB/year (Amazon et al) while a decent locally managed system (SAS, HA) should be ~$100-300/TB/year. Off course if you pay NetApp or the like (at ~$3,000/TB/year) for your storage, you brought this upon yourself and the person making that decision should've been fired.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        For enterprise data storage: average price is $1,000/TB/year (Amazon et al) while a decent locally managed system (SAS, HA) should be ~$100-300/TB/year.

        Don't forget to factor in the cost of the bandwidth to the storage.

    • I suppose if you're a tiny company with a tiny amount of data to backup it'd make sense. If you had even a few tens of gigabytes of data why do you want your offsite storage behind a network connection that can deliver perhaps 1 MB/s? Sure if I want to do an occasional file restore, but when the shit hit the fan I want to be able to bring a crate full of tapes into my data center and streaming off of 8 tape drives at 400 MB/s.

    • by jythie (914043)
      *nod* I tend to assume that many of the 'cloud' companies are traditional off site backup providers that have done a little rebranding.

      Though such services are also useful for small companies that are not set up to host their own servers and want to move files between far flung people. I think a lot of geeks tend to forget that not every company is interested in having its own servers and IT dept when their buisness has nothing to do with computers.
  • We use Box for 300 people in 8 countries and I use Dropbox and Skyfile for personal file storage and sharing. There is a place for Cloud storage in corporate IT since the end users are using these services on mobile devices already. The author is obviously out of touch with current CIO initiatives, I talk to these guys everyday and most are looking to use cloud services for file storage and sharing.
    • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:23PM (#39120299)

      We use Box for 300 people in 8 countries and I use Dropbox and Skyfile for personal file storage and sharing. There is a place for Cloud storage in corporate IT since the end users are using these services on mobile devices already. The author is obviously out of touch with current CIO initiatives, I talk to these guys everyday and most are looking to use cloud services for file storage and sharing.

      Do any of these CIOs run companies that fall under SOX, HIPAA, or PCI? How does your CIO ensure that files stored on the cloud storage meet any of those regulatory requirements? All it takes is one personnel file with medical records to leak into the wild to for the company to face liability under HIPAA for unauthorized release. If the company knowingly allowed sensitive files to be stored in unsecured storage, the penalties could be substantial.

      • Fortunately, not every business falls under the dark cloud of socialist regulatory agencies. Some companies run unfettered and free in the glorious economic wilderness that is the American capitalist system.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          Fortunately, not every business falls under the dark cloud of socialist regulatory agencies. Some companies run unfettered and free in the glorious economic wilderness that is the American capitalist system.

          But how many of those free and unfettered businesses are large enough to have a CIO?

  • by jeffc128ca (449295) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:23PM (#39120301)

    Why don't people look in the history books of computing. If they did they would see that in the before the 80's everything was in "the cloud", except back then they called it servers. They rented these servers and the storage space from IBM, Digital, HP and a few other server providers. The personal computer came a long and data started shifting on to local hard drives and WIntel or Novell LAN servers.

    Now they have the problem of trying to maintain every spreadsheet and Access DB sitting on a managers laptop. To solve this they are going back to the future and storing stuff back on servers sold to us by young people who never knew what DASD is. Controls and audits will demand restricted access and rules be put in the cloud for protection just like before. After about 10 years we will all be bitching and complaining about the cloud and praising local storage for it's ease of access and not having our data held hostage by providers. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    There is nothing new under the sun people, just move along.

    • by blackpaw (240313)

      God damn it, where are my mod points when I need them.

      +5 Insightful

    • Reminds me of a funny Isaac Asimov short story in which people completely forget how to do math by hand other than with a calculator and then rediscover the "lost art."

      http://www.themathlab.com/writings/short%20stories/feeling.htm [themathlab.com]

      Good story and pretty apt with regards to the ephemeral nature of human memory.

      • +1 Interesting, but I already posted

        a couple points beyond the obvious "everything old is new again"
        railroads and ziggurats are just as old as far as these people are concerned
        analogy to Einstein feeling guilty about research that led to the atomic bomb

    • Back then they called it mainframes and timeshare. It's why I called this timeshare 2.0.

      I like some of these services like iCloud where as a small business owner I can update my calendar on my phone and it's automatically synced with my computer and iPad. Same even with Pages now and iCloud. I like the syncing feature. But you know what else that I like: the fact that a local copy still exists on my disk drives. If I'm flying across the country I can still read and edit the local copies on the plane ev

    • The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:24PM (#39120319)

    Ok. Maybe one person to be an adviser on which services to use and how to configure them, (and which Mac models to buy heh heh) but that's about it.

    In that context, cloud storage makes eminent sense because for the cloud service provider, providing reliable storage, or apps, or whatever, is their core competency.
    It is not your company's core competency. They will do it better than you. Period.

    Such storage would make even more sense if it was properly fragmented, onion-routed, multiply encryption-wrapped, encryption-upgradable-in-place etc etc etc but that will all come, as will, one hopes, open standards so that cloud storage is not vendor-locked.

     

    • It is not your company's core competency. They will do it better than you. Period.

      The notion that companies should do only one thing is misguided. They shouldn't squander their resources trying to be everything, true, but for companies beyond a certain size, they can provide these services cheaper than "cloud" companies can. Why? Well, because the provider isn't doing anything you can't do. If you're a big company or a government, you already own data centers. You already own staff. You already own so

    • by billybob_jcv (967047) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:48PM (#39120521)

      Right - and when you can integrate your SAP Cloud ERP system, your SalesForce.com CRM system, your Workday HRIS, *and* the data from your 500 retail locations that you poll daily, all within your Netezza AppNexus data warehouse to generate dashboards using your MicroStrategy MCDWS BI system, without your IT department, you let us know...

    • That's not true once you get to a certain size. If your company considers IT and storage to be a cost, then yes, a third party (where storage is their revenue source) will do it better. If your company considers IT and storage to be an investment, then they can do it just as good (if not better) than a third party.
      • by dkf (304284)

        That's not true once you get to a certain size. If your company considers IT and storage to be a cost, then yes, a third party (where storage is their revenue source) will do it better. If your company considers IT and storage to be an investment, then they can do it just as good (if not better) than a third party.

        It's not really to do with size, but rather to do with "core competencies". Small firms tend to only have a narrow range of things that they consider to be their secret sauce, and that usually doesn't include IT (excluding IT firms of course). Larger companies start to include IT as part of what they know how to do well, just as they also know a reasonable amount about HR and finance.

        The other thing that drives clouds is the cost of a datacenter; a large one is a huge investment, and even big organizations

    • by smash (1351)

      They will do it better than you. Period.

      They will comply with their SLA better than you, you mean. And if the cloud provider goes under (e.g., we have another dotcom crash), are there any guarantees you get your data back? How about the peeps with stuff on megaupload?

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      In that context, cloud storage makes eminent sense because for the cloud service provider, providing reliable storage, or apps, or whatever, is their core competency.

      And yet we still see failures from the biggest players like the EC2 crash [techmento.com], the Danger fiasco [techcrunch.com], iCloud failing [time.com] or gmail outages [computerworld.com.au]. Go 'The Cloud'.

      It is not your company's core competency. They will do it better than you. Period.

      Yeah because we all know McDonalds' IT systems are managed by the guy flipping the burgers, they don't actually have qualified IT guys there. Seriously you haven't realized that it's just outsourcing the IT department? You think these 'cloud' providers are some other sort of entity that aren't just IT guys running an IT contracting business as opposed to internal divi

    • The difference is that the cloud service provider needs to make a profit on that service. So, yes, they can do it cheaper than your company can, but will it still be cheaper after you factor in their profit? Unless you are a pretty small company, you can hire the people to do the job in house and set it up to do it just as efficiently as they do (or close enough). You will not be able to do it as cheaply as they can, but the question is can you do it cheaper than what they charge to do it? The answer to tha
  • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:50PM (#39120537) Homepage Journal

    For me the one attractive use case for cloud storage is for backups - and it's one that's catered to particularly poorly by current offerings.

    For backups, you want (a) fast, unmetered links to the host and (b) moderately reliable, cheap, and not-that-fast storage you can access in a variety of different ways depending on what's most convenient, with or without running your own VPS to mediate between storage and storage clients.

    One user will want to rsync to their cloud storage. One will want to remote-mount a file system on it via iSCSI. Another will want to run a Bacula storage daemon on it. Yet another will want to use it as a co-ordinator for a full network backup system. All these use cases should really be supported, and the first two shouldn't need the customer to maintain their own VPS to control the storage.

    As things stand, almost everyone wants to sell SAN-based high performance storage that's *expensive* and *fast*, not cheap and slow. Most backup services seem to want you to use their tools or a local appliance to talk to their storage. Half of them act very confused when you mention "Linux" or "UNIX" and ask if that's a new kind of Mac or something. At least in Australia I've found the market miserably unsatisfying so far.

    What I'd really like is for ISPs to begin offering, or partnering with others to offer via peering, bulk near-line storage at moderately affordable rates. That way you can talk to it over your business's main ADSL/SHDSL/fibre/whatever link(s) without dealing with quotas, it's fast, there are multiple routes to it, and it's unlikely to go down if an international link has a hiccup.

    iiNet's cloud offering looked like it might have potential for this, but it turns out to be just another EC2-wannabe crossed with Linode-done-badly-and-expensively. The storage offerings are miserable and they don't even mention whether traffic between iiNet internet services and their cloud is metered

  • by smash (1351) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @11:25PM (#39120815) Homepage Journal

    At the end of the day it comes down to this: who is responsible for keeping your data? With failures in amazon's cloud service, a provider over east in Australia that got hacked and lost all backups, etc - trusting your company's data to someone else is a BIG call to make and understandably, many businesses are wary of the idea.

    At least if the data is stored on premises, and on backup tapes, you have options with regards to data retention/data recovery. Once you upload all your stuff to the cloud, you're at the mercy of your cloud provider. Sure, you may have an SLA, but SLAs mean shit if your company is unable to get access to it's data when required - or would like to prevent third parties from obtaining access to data (such as foreign governments) that the cloud provider may be persuaded or legally required to divulge.

  • trust your sensitive data to others that only see you as a line item in their billing system? Sorry, just stupid.
  • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @12:30AM (#39121219)

    I signed up for Dropbox and my experience with it is that it's slow as molasses when uploading and I can't just drop a link there and have it point at my server. Nono, I must upload the entire file itself.

    Most people would be better off with Opera Unite. While some here may laugh and point at it because it is not a full-blown server setup, it is probably the easiest ad-hoc file sharing/server program going. Sure, I've personally installed Apache, sftpd and sshd on my home server but just the concepts of these services alone are beyond the grasp of most people. Opera Unite makes this kind of thing drool-proof.

    You declare which directories are shared and that's it. You're done. No uploading to the "cloud" like Dropbox, Skydrive, or Apple's music thingy (and Unite will do media streaming). And you don't get locked in or risk losing control of your data should the cloud service get closed down.

    --
    BMO

  • To just send our not-so-important, older bulk data like before and after photos, old autocad files, and reports to "the cloud" on our $270 internet connection would take over 90 hours so...that's what I think of that.
  • As soon as IT managers figure out they are paying a premium for the same set of problems they battle with in-house this will all be over with ver quickly and we can all get back to work.

  • It'll never happen with data within the credit industry. With so many regulations on privacy now using a third party cloud storage provider would be a gross violation of privacy laws.

The sooner all the animals are extinct, the sooner we'll find their money. - Ed Bluestone

Working...