Cloud Computing Data Storage: Buying Guide: Page 2

Using cloud computing for data storage offers a number of advantages -- if you ask potential vendors the right questions.
Posted September 26, 2011

Jeff Vance

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4. Is the solution secure?

The year 2011 was a record year for natural disasters and catastrophic weather in terms of number of events and their devastating costs. Earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes and other events have made an indelible impact on many communities and businesses both in the US and around the world.

This trend made Veronica Barnes, Directory of Technology for the Town of Dedham, Massachusetts, nervous about the future and what would happen in the event of a disaster. The town was performing local backups and was not fully protected from the potential risks.

“The number of recent disasters in other parts of the country really raised my level of urgency,” Barnes stated.

The town looked to Zetta for a solution that would backup a majority of their critical data off-site. ZettaMirror automatically replicates and syncs local data for on-demand access. The data is transferred and stored in encrypted format, and a current copy is persistently available through either a web browser or directly through the remote file system.

Although the Town of Dedham has not had a disaster from which they had to recover data through Zetta, the solution has given the town and their IT staff peace of mind. “Zetta took a lot of pressure off us. Before, we were going home at night and worrying a lot.”

Kania of Software Link echoes concerns over the increasing need to protect against catastrophic events. “You want to look for a data center in a location that’s not prone to a lot of disasters. You want a place where you know your data will be okay, and where security is solid.”

5. Does it deliver ROI?

Usually when organizations think about moving to the cloud, cost savings is one of the big drivers. With storage, solid ROI is certainly a consideration, but it’s not necessarily the most important consideration.

Yes, your CEO will probably demand ROI, but CIOs and IT managers would be well served to educate the business side of the organization on the fact that not every benefit can be accurately captured by ROI calculations – which for services like cloud storage are often fictions anyway.

A recent blog post by JP Morgenthal sums it up nicely:

Cloud computing is about an effective use of compute resources that provides agility and flexibility to my business in a cost-effective manner. I’m not investing in cloud computing, I’m consuming a service. Do you discuss the ROI of eating at McDonalds or having your car washed? Of course not, because there’s no ROI in using a service since using a service is not an investment. Using services is about effective use of cash flow relative as an alternative to using your own resources and assets.

Cloud storage is about keeping up with the changing computing landscape. Disaster recovery is a must, and in many industries is mandated. Workers are spending more time working from home and in remote locations. More organizations are outsourcing key tasks that used to be completed within the corporate walls, and they must provide access to digital assets to partners and contractors.

Cloud storage rolls all of these features together into a single service. Even though all of those benefits may be tough to quantify, it still delivers solid value to the organization. And isn’t that what ROI is supposed to be about in the first place?

To use an analogy, I’m enough of a backyard mechanic to fix my vehicle’s transmission, but is it worth it? Today’s mechanics have specialized diagnostic tools, expensive lifts and benefit from a number of other efficiencies. The same is true of specialized services like cloud storage.

Why would you want the headache of owning your own storage when it’s so easy to consume?

(Lindsay Armstrong contributed to this story.)

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Tags: data storage, cloud computing

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