Archive for the ‘Cloud Storage’ Category

Common Cloud Computing Missteps

Moving to the cloud can, for many SMBs, seem like a great bargain. They save on expenses such as updating hardware, power, maintenance, and floor space. But moving to the cloud can have its pitfalls as well as benefits, and these pitfalls may bring their own costs.

The pitfalls of moving to the cloud can include:

1. Overlooking the company’s specialized needs. Most cloud offerings are designed to be generic, to fit the general needs of the masses. If a company has unique requirements, such as compliance with regulations, it may face additional charges.

2. Overlooking variable demands. If high-demand periods aren’t addressed up front, a company can face expensive up-charges when those periods occur.

3. Overlooking software license provisions. Many companies assume they can move their apps to the cloud for free. That assumption is likely wrong. Many software licenses prohibit the transfer of apps to the cloud environment, and some providers allow such a transfer for a fee.

4. Getting locked in to a specific cloud solution. Amazon, as well as some other cloud-services providers, has a proprietary application program interface. This type of interface forces its clients to customize their applications. After the expense and effort put into creating customizations it may be too expensive and difficult to switch to another cloud-services provider.

The Private Cloud Approach

The private cloud approach is designed for a single enterprise. That is not to say the business can’t be a large and complicated enterprise, with multiple sites and data centres. It definitely can be.

Cloud attributes can be applied in a private setting to improve the coordination of corporate data centres. Private clouds will not have the same reach and scale as public clouds. However private clouds are a more efficient option over traditional deployment approaches. They essentially enable the enterprise’s IT department to provide standardized services to company users.

A combination of public cloud and private cloud is more common than solely private cloud solutions. This combination permits differing levels of control over company data.

The combination of public and private cloud works well with phased deployment. This approach is becoming more and more accessible to SMBs. It offers flexibility and customization as well as a level of standardization that can minimize costs and speed deployment time.

Cloud Computing Options

Cloud computing has been gaining attention from businesses as a way to access advanced technology that isn’t necessarily hosted or owned by the user. According to recent surveys public cloud approaches are gaining traction among SMBs. Approximately twice as many SMBs plan to implement public cloud solutions compared with private cloud solutions in the coming year.

The public cloud is where the greatest economies and easiest-to-implement solutions are found. However, for companies needing complete control of their data a private cloud is much more appropriate. Combining the private and public cloud solutions into a hybrid cloud is an option as well.

Contact DataHive to discuss our cloud computing options.

More Problems with Amazon’s Web Services

Amazon’s Web Service’s main cloud computing service, EC2, is having problems today (October 15, 2012) with network connectivity issues. This spells problems for its large number of clients. Businesses and developers are having trouble accessing their rented computer resources.

“We are continuing to work to resolve the networking connectivity issues resulting in elevated packet loss for some EC2 instances in the US-EAST-1 region,” Amazon posted on its global status page today.

US-EAST-1 turns out to be Amazon’s main datacentre hub which provides services to a huge number of sites including Reddit.

US-EAST-1 is Amazon’s most problem-prone datacentre. Last July saw a major failure in this region that was caused by lightning and turned into a cascading fail.

Moving to the Private Cloud

If your organization has decided to launch a private cloud there are 4 key steps to take to pull it off.

Step 1: Analyze the internal network and upgrade if required.
The analysis should begin with considering capacity. Estimate expected traffic volumes and then add a lot for expansion.

The analysis should also consider speed. More and more traffic is pushing networks from 1 gigabit/second toward 10 gigabits/second.

Step 2: Standardize on the smallest number of hardware platforms. By running highly compatible hardware you can easily achieve the resource pooling goals of private cloud computing.

Step 3: Virtualize as much as possible. Create portable workloads that can be put on any server at any time.

Step 4: Assess applications to determine which are right for running in a private cloud. Take stock of all the applications your organization is and will be using and determine which ones do not require the full power of dedicated servers and related resources.

These steps will make the transition to the private cloud smoother and less problematic.

More on the Private Cloud

Many enterprises are benefiting from private clouds. They are discovering that for security and compliance, the private cloud wins out over the public cloud every time. In addition, the private cloud provides better savings. As detailed in a 2011 study by the Aberdeen Group, the private cloud saves a total of 12% combined annual costs savings over public clouds on a per-application basis.

Budget considerations are not the only considerations. A cloud’s ability to deliver services on demand means IT departments can meet enterprise needs more quickly than when new hardware has to be purchased, tested and implemented. The traditional process can take weeks, even months. A cloud can meet the demand within minutes.

Private clouds also create a strong technical foundation for the so-called “Post-PC Era” where desktop computers are now just part of the mix of devices that also includes thin clients, tablets and smartphones. Vital applications and enterprise data reside in the cloud, waiting to flow to any of these devices.

Using a public cloud has appeal because it requires little to no infrastructure investment by the user enterprise while enabling unprecedented levels of scalability. However, many organizations still balk at the compliance, privacy, security and data availability issues associated with public services.

For private cloud options for your enterprise, contact DataHive to discuss your needs (403) 313-1106.

Consumer Cloud Security

The consumer cloud keeps growing, giving consumers many storage choices such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud and Amazon Cloud Drive. Unfortunately, these cloud-based file storage services typically come with security caveats that waive their liability for data loss.

It is important to read the terms of use and privacy policies of any cloud service you are considering using before you start to upload files. Consider what Amazon Cloud Drive says about the security of your cloud data:

5.3 Security. We do not guarantee that Your Files will not be subject to misappropriation, loss or damage and we will not be liable if they are. You’re responsible for maintaining appropriate security, protection and backup of Your Files.

That’s right, when it comes to security you are on your own. They are not guaranteeing that there is anything inherently secure about their cloud.

I personally would not choose to put anything of value or hard to replace on that cloud drive unless I already have a securely protected local backup.

Cloud security disclaimers should give companies as well as consumers cause for concern. Standard cloud contracts don’t come with enough privacy and security guarantees to permit their use for storing sensitive data that is subject to legal penalties for non-compliance.

Give a thought to what stands between your data in the consumer cloud and anyone who wants to steal it: your password.

That’s right, the security of your cloud data depends on your ability to create and protect an unguessable password. Good luck with that.

So beware: when you upload onto the consumer cloud you do so at your own risk.

Amazon’s Glacier: the Devil is in the Details

A great deal has been made of Amazon’s Glacier offering of 1 penny per gigabyte per month. It is an exciting and enticing offer for a public that is looking for affordable storage. But, as they say, the devil is in the details – or rather the fine print.

What most people do not do is read the fine print. Amazon’s lengthy legal agreement is a great antidote to insomnia, so here’s the interesting part they’re hoping users won’t notice. Amazon reserves the right to look at your files. They don’t need your express permission to do so. They don’t even have to notify you that they’re going to do so. Amazon can go through all your data without any encumbrance, legal or otherwise.

And there’s more. Amazon can share your files with others. They can use your information at any time for any purpose, without your knowledge. Are you comfortable with that?

As well, Amazon can keep all the files you delete.

Once you upload data with Amazon, your data is their data — theirs to keep, to share, to use as they see fit. If you need to see the fine print here it is:

“5.2. Our Right to Access Your Files. You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law.”

Amazon has added the fluff about technical support and security threats, but the grist of it is you are giving them the right to access, retain, use and disclose your files. All for a penny per gigabyte per month.