Why Cloud At All? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
2/20/2009
03:43 PM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
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Why Cloud At All?

In his recent blog, Bycast CTO David Silk provides some insight on how enterprises minimize the risk associated with adopting cloud storage. At the heart of the matter is why does cloud storage or, for that matter, cloud computing, exist at all?

In his recent blog, Bycast CTO David Silk provides some insight on how enterprises minimize the risk associated with adopting cloud storage. At the heart of the matter is why does cloud storage or, for that matter, cloud computing, exist at all?Its simple, really -- the cloud, be it storage or compute, really must have distinct value propositions. First, cloud must significantly lower the cost to, in the case of storage, store data or, in the case of computing, lower the cost of compute cycles. Second, the cloud should make access to that storage or those compute cycles ubiquitous and as local as possible. Finally, the amount of people required to manage and maintain this infrastructure should not increase as its size does. In fact, the goal should be to have fewer people manage it than what the traditional infrastructures require.

When it comes to the cloud, that's it -- drive down the cost, provide ubiquitous access, and make it more efficient. If you have a massive amount of data, need to store it cheaply, want it available anywhere, and don't want to hire an army to manage it, then cloud storage may be for you. Where you put it and how you access it (Internet and public cloud or intranet and private cloud) is really up to you and how much storage you already have. We cover these possibilities in our whitepaper on Cloud Storage.

Enterprise use? You already are!

There is a constant question of how and when enterprises will embrace a cloud-based storage solution. The truth is you -- well, your users -- already are. As we speak with those that are providing some form of cloud storage or cloud service, many of the e-mail addresses that sign up for the services are coming from the domains of very large organizations. A rogue use of the cloud is more than likely happening within your organization right now.

Unless you're going to turn off Web access to your users, it is going to be very hard to curtail the use of these services and Internet-based storage. There is value in looking at why your users are embracing these services. They are cheap, in many cases free or at least well under the accounting radar, and beyond that they typically also solve a problem that the IT department can't, for one reason or another. My guess is the No. 1 reason is going to be ease of use, followed closely by geographic collaboration or geographic dispersion of data.

In essence, your users are cheating on you!

The best response is to learn from your users and begin to offer your own services that provide the functionality that they're going outside of your offering to get, and that means offering your own cloud like service. The good news is there are solutions that will allow you to deliver these kinds of services to your users and they are available in different forms to meet your needs for security, cost, and skillset.

View our Webcast on Cloud Storage Infrastructures to learn more.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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