October 2013 will be remembered for the abrupt shutdown of the Nirvanix Cloud. While this may seem like bad news for the cloud market, it actually may be one of the best things to happen to cloud storage. Cloud storage will no longer be looked at as a mythical and magical data dumping ground, instead it will be looked as another tool available to IT planners but a tool with faults that need to be planned for.
As my colleague, Colm Keegan recently covered in his report “A Survival Guide to Cloud Storage Failure”, and as we detailed in our webinar, “Cloud Failure – Lessons Learned From The Nirvanix Shutdown“, there are specific steps that you should take prior to a cloud storage outage. Additionally, there are options available to you when you are in the middle of a cloud outage. The first step though is to know your data.
Know The Data
Cloud Storage can now play a role in the storing of every data type; primary, backup and archive. In most cases, primary data is going to be a 100% mirror situation. Most cloud appliances that offer primary data storage are going to replicate data in real-time to the cloud but all of the data will stay local as well. Some will, however, migrate data as it ages, from the primary appliance to the cloud. In this case, that data is essentially a candidate for archival storage, so you are going to want it stored somewhere other than your primary cloud storage provider.
The second data type is backup data. For the most part this is a redundant copy of primary data that you are going to use for recovery in case you have a server or site failure. If you have a server failure, best practice is to keep this copy of data locally for recovery performance reasons. If you are pushing this data to the cloud it is for DR purposes only. It is easy to re-create at another cloud storage provider. Additionally most, if not all business class cloud backup products have a hybrid model that does just that, keeps most recent backups local on site and then replicates to the cloud in case of disaster recovery. That secondary copy is redundant and loss is even less of an issue.
The most challenging data type is archive data. This should be the sole remaining copy of data of a particular data set. The key to archive is managing how many copies of that data exist, especially if those copies are going to be in the cloud. In this case, there may be no local copy of the data. IT planners need to take steps to either make sure there is either a local copy available or look into mirroring this data to multiple clouds, in the event the primary cloud provider fails.
Storage Swiss Take
Knowing the data is the important first step in any cloud storage strategy. Once you understand what data you are going to put in a cloud storage providers hands, then you can take appropriate measures to protect yourself. For example, in the backup use case, the required protection from cloud failure is relatively low. As you move into using cloud storage for primary and archived data, however, additional steps need to be taken to protect yourself from a cloud provider outage or bankruptcy event. On Storage Switzerland’s Webinar, “Cloud Failure – Lessons Learned From The Nirvanix Shutdown”, we discuss those steps in detail.