Cloud Control to Major Tom

Cloud computing offers significant advantages, yet how does your business stay in control as it heads for the cloud?
Posted April 28, 2011

Drew Robb

Drew Robb

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Everyone, it seems, is heading for the cloud at a breakneck speed. But in the headlong rush, questions are starting to crop up about how your business stays in control.

It may not be enough to take your protein pills and put your helmet on, as the lyrics suggested in the David Bowie song “Space Oddity.” So what can you do?

First, let’s understand what all the hurry is about. Why are firms adopting cloud computing?

Randy Mott, CIO of HP, has said that within three years, 55% of HP IT applications will on the cloud. He laid out a multitude of problems with having everything in-house – in particular, having multiple apps all doing the same thing, and spending too much time on software maintenance and not enough on innovation.

Others are looking to the cloud to reduce costs and increase flexibility. Jay Kerley, Deputy CIO of Applied Materials, for instance, has been overseeing a project to create a desktop cloud for the company’s many Computer Aided Design (CAD) users. His principle drivers were being able to reduce the desktop budget considerably by eliminating the need for an expensive workstation under every desk, while at the same time providing the workforce with far more mobility options.

All the while, these execs are being egged on by a constant wave of hype surrounding cloud computing. As well as a barrage of marketing by vendors, analyst firms and thought leaders who are echoing the clarion call.

Michael Schrage, research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, for example, went so far as to proclaim the cloud as “the greatest medium for rapid multi-modal experimentation and test in the history for the world.”

In his view, IT needs to adopt the cloud, or the business world will bypass IT and go direct to cloud providers for more and more projects. Already, he said, this trend is underway. The question: will IT adapt or will it be relegated to a mere plumbing role?


Your Circuit’s Dead, There’s Something Wrong

But hype is one thing and reality quite another. Schrage raised various questions about the cloud, such as: how do you benchmark against it? This is something that IT better figure out fast.

Others are looking at even more serious issues. Miki Sandorfi, chief strategist at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), brings up several problems with the cloud, including outages, security and more.

“Some high availability numbers from cloud providers have been exposed as hype as the wrong data was restored after an outage,” he said.

That became all the more evident with the recent Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) outage that put dozens of websites and social networks out of commission. Amazon’s promise of 99.95% availability came to nothing, with some sites being down for more than a day.

So it’s no surprise that we are now seeing some storage architectures that tout more control, safeguards and security for those journeying to the cloud. HDS, for instance, has developed an approach to the cloud that it basically characterizes as an integrated edge-to-core solution.

The idea is to be able to move into or out of the cloud while minimizing risk. It consists of the Hitachi Data Ingestor (HDI) at the edge, and the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) at the core.

HDI operates as the on ramp, said Sandorfi, while HCP’s 40 PB of capacity includes data protection, replication, deduplication, compression, encryption and retention. When deduplication and compression are factored in, that’s an awful lot of room for expansion.

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Tags: cloud computing, cloud services, data storage management, HP, solid state disk drives

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