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Storage and the Cloud

For this second post in the cloud series, I’d like to take a quick look at the challenges and opportunities around digital content storage in the cloud.

According to Cisco’s visual networking index, by 2015 “the equivalent of an archive of all movies ever made will cross Global IP networks every 4 minutes”, or to put it another way, Global IP traffic will quadruple from 2010 to 2015 with a compound annual growth rate of 32%. Oh, and by the way, over 60% of this traffic will be video! Now, that’s an awful lot of content which implies an increased need for storage, at one point or another in the content life cycle.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the potential for content storage on the cloud, and indeed so many examples already exist of cloud storage providers for both enterprise and consumer specific needs (e.g. think Amazon, Dropbox, or even Apple’s iCloud). So what’s the big deal? Well, according to a recent Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Cloud Adoption Study, over half of enterprise respondents were planning to deploy cloud storage, and up to 60% planned to retain data anywhere between 5 – 20 years plus, on the cloud. This means the content stored on cloud is likely to increase exponentially over time, in light of the aforementioned growth in traffic.

Whilst these trends offer great opportunities, at least for cloud storage services and the content industry ecosystem, it also provides some key challenges to be addressed along the way, e.g. data storage and security, regulatory compliance and retention issues, as well as IP Rights management in a distributed, global digital landscape (the last will be subject of a separate post in this series).

In my opinion, one immediate issue for cloud storage will be how to interoperate, and easily migrate, stored data / content between cloud services. There is clear need for standards for cloud storage, and several initiatives, e.g. SNIA’s Cloud Storage Initiative (which introduced the Cloud Data Management Interface), and the Open Grid Forum’s Open Cloud Computing Interface are certainly steps in the right direction, because they help to specify the attributes, functions and requirements of data and content stored in the cloud. The key message for Enterprises looking to step into the cloud storage arena would be to ensure that their suppliers or vendors have adopted, or plan to adopt, a cloud storage standard early on in the selection process.

Note: This post is brought to you in partnership with Intel(R) as part of the “Technology in tomorrow’s cloud & virtual desktop” series. For more information please click – HERE

  1. November 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Pro-cloud advocates, like Autodesk, love to use the banking-on-the-Internet example, but the analogy is critically flawed. Here’s the difference that Autodesk does not talk about:

    – Bank deposits are insured against loss; in our jurisdiction, we have 100% deposit insurance among credit unions. (My son lost $400 from his acct through debit card skimming, and the bank reimbursed him fully.)
    – Credit card transactions are covered against fraud (including Internet fraud) by credit card companies. There might be a $50 deductible, but in practice it is usually waived.
    – In contrast, cloud vendors state specifically that they not guarantee data deposits.

    The government, banks, and credit card companies go out of their way to create a sense of trust in using these “ambiguous” cloud banking services. The reluctance of cloud data vendors copy this existing model is not helpful to their cause. I understand that it is easier to replace $$ than data, but that’s a problem for cloud vendors to solve. In the meantime, they can create trust by taking responsibility for their services, instead of ducking it.

    • judeumeh
      November 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Interesting thought about how Cloud Storage Service Providers might do well to become more like banks, e.g. by providing guarantees against data loss. I agree this might foster a sense of trust and confidence in the service, but it won’t be easy to attain.

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