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Best practices for cloud storage migration

o Gopan Joshi, Netmagic Solutions
27.02.2014 kl 18:43 | Computerworld Hong Kong

The advantages and benefits of cloud data storage are quite obvious, and it is not hard to see why such services have immensely grown in popularity. Companies of all sizes can reap the benefits of cloud storage for a number of reasons, including the ability to:

 

The advantages and benefits of cloud data storage are quite obvious, and it is not hard to see why such services have immensely grown in popularity. Companies of all sizes can reap the benefits of cloud storage for a number of reasons, including the ability to:

  • access a lower-cost tier of storage and drive down IT costs;
  • shift storage costs from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure, freeing capital to support other parts of the business.
  • offload routine storage operations so IT teams can focus on more strategic technology initiatives that bolster profitability;
  • replace or supplement tape -- with all its management complexities and headaches -- by storing off-site data copies in the cloud;
  • access affordable disaster recovery as data copies stored in the cloud are, by nature, off-site and protected in the event of a local disaster;
  • lower the costs of remote office data protection and remove the need for separate storage infrastructures because backup data can be consolidated in the cloud; and
  • leverage unlimited storage scalability with a "pay as you go" subscription model for increasing storage capacities as needed, without growing data center footprints.

Cloud storage is the right answer, especially for businesses requiring more space for archiving infrequently accessed data, undergoing infrastructure replacements, or seeking simplified compliance management.

The two biggest concerns about cloud storage are reliability and security. Organizations aren't likely to entrust their data to another company without a guarantee that they'll be able to access their information whenever they want and no one else will be able to get at it.

Data security, availability and questions of ownership are all things that keep the CIO awake at night, making him or her reluctant to place his or her company's data in the hands of a third-party vendor. Not to mention perhaps the biggest challenge, integration of cloud storage into their existing infrastructure.

The other big concern is reliability of the cloud storage system. An unstable cloud storage system is a liability. No one wants to save data to a failure-prone system, nor do they want to trust a company that isn't financially stable. While most cloud storage systems try to address this concern through redundancy techniques, there's still the possibility that an entire system could crash and leave clients with no way to access their saved data.

Best practices of cloud storage migration

Moving to cloud storage provides many benefits, but also bears some risk as well. As with any other major IT endeavor, proceed with caution. The following, while not complete, is a list of some things you should consider when implementing cloud storage:

Not all cloud services are the same. Make sure your service provider meets you needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What degree of redundancy is provided? Some service providers offer multi-site redundancies, some only provide single-site redundancy (mirroring, etc.) while some provide no redundancy at all.
  • Is there automatic failover in case of a disk/server/site failure?
  • Does the provider offer versioning, or do they only store the most current version of a file or data object? Is there a retention period for deleted files? If they do offer versioning, how flexible is the retention policy?
  • Does the provider back up data? If so, what is the backup cycle and retention policy? In an emergency how long will it take to restore data? Even cloud service providers can have hardware and software failures that can cause data loss.
  • Does the provider offer an easy-to-use management console? Is it Web-based and can it be accessed from any location in case of emergency?
  • Does the pricing structure fit your business model? For example, some vendors charge for every file access (read, write, etc.) in addition to per-gigabyte upload and download charges. If you are moving large blocks of data those access charges will be minimal. If you are doing primarily database lookups and updates, however, they can add up quickly.

Determine the cloud deployment model that is best for you. Public, private, hybrid, community or cooperative models all have their pros and cons, but each does not fit every business model.

Don't put your eggs in one basket. As with local storage make sure you back up your data.

Do you need local storage as well as cloud storage? Local storage provides immediate access to your data, even if there are network issues. If this is important to you than consider replicating your cloud data locally.

Read the contract. What liability does the provider have in case of data loss, etc.? What are the service commitments, if any? What happens if there is a billing dispute? Can your data be held hostage, or, even worse, deleted?

Take things a step at a time. While cloud storage can solve many problems it can create new ones as well. There will be a learning curve for you and your staff. Taking small steps, at least initially, limits your exposure if things don't go as anticipated.

Gopan Joshi is product manager of cloud computing services, Netmagic Solution

Keywords: Internet  Storage  
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