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Move to the Cloud: A Taneja Group eBook

Cloud storage can be a beast to wrangle. Deciding which applications to move into the cloud, understanding how to select and deal with a cloud storage provider, deciding on cloud storage solutions – none of these are easy. Is it worth it?

Cloud storage and application hosting can certainly be worth the investment but it’s vital that you do into it with your eyes wide open. There are many, many questions you need to ask before entrusting your data to a cloud storage provider. Questions like:

#1.  What is your system uptime? 99% is the minimum to look for, although that 1% down time can be a big hit on the business. Historical archives are one thing but when you host primary data such as web services, downtime annoys customers and can deeply impact the bottom line. Hardware uptime is also different from data accessibility: your cloud vendor’s system can be technically up but your data may be unavailable due to a software or connection issue.

#2.  What data availability service levels do you support? When you use a public cloud provider for backup and archives, then a 99% service availability and daily backup is usually acceptable. But when primary/active data enter the picture, such as web-based business data or analytics applications, the picture changes. Most cloud storage operates on very thin margins. Amazon and Google are not out there making money providing high data availability to cloud customers. This is why, for example, Amazon was happy to host giant pharma Eli Lilly’s archives but not so happy to provide SLAs for active data analytics. It simply was not worth it to them to ramp up and provide the necessary level of SLA even for a large account.

#3.  How easy is it to move my data to another provider? No cloud storage vendor makes it easy, they’re not stupid and they want to retain customers. But you have the right to move your data to a provider that suits you better without getting locked in to an existing provider. We strongly suggest that vendors offer data migration at reasonable prices to facilitate mass data transfers in and out. Many customers do not want to go through a transfer even with tools available, so the anti-lock-in message works as a competitive differentiator.

#4.  What data protection service levels do you provide? Since data protection and availability are the heart of useable storage, going without acceptable SLAs should be a deal breaker between IT and a cloud provider. Any reputable service provider will at least provide daily backups, but some critical data will require far more frequent backup, snapshots and/or replication. And if the public cloud provider is backing up their customers to removable tape (which they probably are), customers need to review their provider’s tape retention, cycling and disposal policy.

#5.  What is your level of performance? The answer to this will vary widely according to the type of data, usage, bandwidth, and storage performance. Keeping a copy of backup in the cloud is a very different performance matter than running analytics from the business on cloud-based data. The first usage case is very common and widely supported; the latter is much harder to achieve. The hybrid usage case is storing data in the cloud and letting the cloud provider run high performance applications on it from their own data center. This works well if the cloud provider is a subject matter expert in the usage case, such as eDiscovery services hosting.

#6.  What applications can I best host in the cloud? Good application fits include test/dev workloads, personal productivity applications, collaborative and messaging applications, and virtualized applications. Intensive analytics and transactional applications are rarely suitable for running from your premises on your cloud-based data.

The upshot is that corporate users should negotiate with their cloud vendors for workable service level agreements. Do not accept an oral agreement or a simple 99.9% uptime report. Insist on the service level agreements that you require. Do be prepared to pay more for higher level agreements, justifying your increased investment with the efficiency and scalability of cloud-based data and application hosting.

Learn more in Taneja Group's new ebook: The Move to the Cloud. Download your copy today.

  • Premiered: 09/13/12
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Cloud Storage Applications eBook


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