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Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

Own Your Data in a Cloud services world

· cloud,storage,compute,architecture,enterprise

Reminder: Own Your Data and Your Backup Plan

September 20th, 2019 | by Ray MacDonald


Many new and/or modified IT strategies are required in the new Digital Business paradigm. Some new services allow for rapid execution of new solutions. For businesses to run quickly (more quickly!) they must embrace the trifecta of new computing requirements of speed, security/privacy, quality; but they must still protect themselves through the solid disciplines of business continuity, ownership rights, and data architecture standards.

What often gets overlooked in the rush to the Cloud is to ensure that you “Own Your Data”. A hard lesson was learned by some businesses, within this decade, about suddenly losing access to their business information data.

Your business must have access in multiple ways, to multiple copies of your data. How this is done and to what extent of business continuity planning (BCP/BCM) will be custom to each situation. It may be simple enough to have your data in multiple Cloud vendors (even just 2 if that works), or you may want to maintain access to a smaller data centre-like facility with storage services combined with a data architecture mapping for all your data, or you may use a storage managed service or even a Cloud integrator. There are many ways to accomplish the need, but it is a very important need, and you must own, guard, and champion your data and protect your ownership of it and have easy access to it.

The need for vendor diversity is stronger than ever. One of your most valuable assets is your business information data. When a large amount of Your Data is in a Cloud provider, should a need transpire to suddenly move it, just how will you get that done if you don’t have another copy in another place?

Too often the simplicity of starting to use a Cloud SaaS (Software as a Service), by simply quickly signing up (give account info) and use a credit card to pay for it, risks protection of your business operations and asset(s). The legal rights to your data must be guarded, but also the technical and performance capabilities and an exit strategy. Just what will you do if suddenly you must stop using that Cloud SaaS vendor?

This brief blog post can’t cover all the strategies needed to run IT in the new way. Using Cloud and SaaS changes the CIO game from the Capex (capital depreciation) considerations to nearly all Opex ongoing expenses. Changing the way services are delivered and invested in will be changing rapidly in the next few years. Specifically, changing where workloads run and where they process and store your data raises the question, "where will your data be"? Ask the question on a regular basis as you transition to new IT services delivery methods, "do you know where your data is"?

Enterprise cloud storage provider Nirvanix gave customers 2 weeks' notice back in 2013 to find a new home for the data due to their financial difficulties resulting in bankruptcy.

The Nirvanix case study provides 2 examples of serious problems to plan for:

1) Bankruptcy of Cloud services affecting access to "your data"

2) mergers/acquisitions and new partnerships of Cloud services and the potential impact to "your data"

A financial services company in the USA realised they couldn’t transfer all their data over the network in the time Nirvanix allowed, so they immediately (a physical strategy) borrowed an EMC storage frame and shipped it into Nirvanix’s data centre to get their data at an emergency cost of $100,000+.

Nirvanix was a San Diego based company that had established itself as a credible cloud storage provider. In 2011, IBM signed a partnership with the company to use Nirvanix as the basis of its SmartCloud storage service – also that year an independent storage analyst Jerome Wendt said Nirvanix was poised to become "the new VMware". He described, "The patents they have around managing petabytes of data in the Cloud are unique".

Nirvanix was founded in 2007 after an online storage company called StreamLoad split into consumer and business units. Not long after, the consumer arm – MediaMax – gave customers one month to relocate their data following a failed migration onto the Nirvanix platform.

Gartner, Inc., the global research and advisory firm, has made a few key recommendations after lessons were learned from the collapse of Nirvanix:

1) Be cautious of “privately held” Cloud service providers. Cloud is typically a thin margin business and cashflow can suddenly become a problem.

2) Own your data: the fact that many of Nirvanix’s customers were scrambling to migrate (move) their data back to their data centres, or to another Cloud provider, illustrates that they didn’t have a second copy of the data ready for themselves.

3) Recognize that Customers are ultimately responsible for their own data!

“Cloud storage moves the location of data and changes the payment method

from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure. However, the customer

– not the cloud storage provider – is ultimately responsible for data availability.

The device administration costs go to the cloud, but most storage management

costs remain in-house.” -Gartner

If you have access to Gartner, these published articles refer to the Nirvanix case study:

G00349543 17-May-2018 How to Plan for Resiliency in the Cloud

G00343151 6-October-2017 Develop Contingency Plans for Your Critical Suppliers, or

risk Business Disruption

G00258551 31-October-2013 How to Mitigate Cloud Storage Risks

The message for this week is to all business executives and advisors… please ensure you Own Your Data and Your Backup Plan, these necessities shouldn't be transferred to others. Key strategies for the new Digital Business era must still use proven disciplines in continuity planning, legal ownership, and data architecture.

Next week’s topic… Oracle’s OpenWorld annual conference was October 13-17, they pushed a lot of additional information (and hype) about their Autonomous Database. Just what will it mean to the trifecta of new computing requirements of speed, security/privacy, and quality to have an Autonomous Database system?