There is a lot to like about storage in the cloud, but getting it wrong can come at a great cost.
no surprise that interest in storage in the cloud has been rising: Storage in
the cloud can be less expensive than storing data yourself, and it can be more
scalable, more efficient and more secure.
course, that assumes you do everything right. Done wrong, cloud-based storage will
gain you little. Worse, it could get you and your organization into a lot of trouble.
a cloud storage solution, you send your data to a storage provider and let the
provider manage it. It sounds simple, and, in concept, it is. On your end,
cloud storage means that you determine what needs to be stored, encrypt that
data, and then transmit it across the Internet (or another network) to the
provider's site, where there is a repository that's shared among many
companies. The provider keeps track of where your data is and makes it
available to you when you need it.
unclear exactly how many companies are offering cloud storage services because
the number changes almost on a daily basis.
to the complexity of picking a provider is the fact that there are different
types of providers for different storage tasks. Some providers, such as Iron Mountain, focus on storing enterprise data that
would otherwise reside on an on-site SAN. Others, such as Mozy and Carbonite, focus
on individual desktop computers and servers for small businesses. (With that
said, Mozy's biggest customer is General Electric.)
storage providers such as Iron Mountain provide very high performance, significant
scalability and high levels of security.
Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, Vt., uses Iron Mountain to store medical images older than five
years. The hospital is still migrating X-ray, MRI and other images, but is already pulling
down some images from the cloud. According to IT Team Leader Dennis Boucher, performance
is "pretty amazing."
said that because his data must meet a number of compliance requirements, including
HIPAA, security was also critically important. "[Iron Mountain is] highly secure, they have very secure
sites, they use encryption, and they're using a VPN tunnel to secure the
transmission," Boucher said.
not every enterprise works the same way. When General Electric signed on with
Mozy (a division of EMC),
the goal was to have a reliable means of backing up employee desktop computers.
to Dave Robinson, Mozy's vice president of marketing, about 300,000 GE
employees use Mozy, with the company managing the process via a Web-based
of Mozy's and Carbonite's customers are small and midsize businesses, and the
services are publicly available for individual use. Carbonite just announced
that it's offering a new service aimed at larger businesses. The new service,
Carbonite Pro, will back up servers and network-attached storage.