CLOUD, FOG, OR SMOG? OUR FORECAST ON BUSINESS CONTINUITY AND THE CLOUD1 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTIONYou can’t go anywhere in the IT world these days without This paper was adapted from ahearing about the “cloud.” It seems to be everywhere, in every keynote address delivered at SMBnew product, the solution to every problem. Nation 2011 by Matt Urmston.But as with any hot new trend, you’re probably wondering Matt has worked in the IT industryif the cloud, cloud computing, or cloud-based backup for more than twenty years, focusinglive up to the hype. Is this something you should use on backup, disaster recovery, andyourself? If you’re a managed service provider (MSP) or archiving solutions. He has workeda value-added reseller (VAR), is it something you should as a technical marketing manager, arecommend to your clients? sales engineer, a product manager, and as an independent consultantBefore you jump in, you need to know how the cloud is for Legato/EMC. Currently, he ispositioned today, understand its many value propositions, senior technical product managerand look at how you can get the most out of it in your own for StorageCraft Technologybusiness. Corporation.2 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
ARE THERE BRIGHT SKIES AHEAD?If you listen to the marketers of the world, using the cloud for backup, Customers can maintain business continuity in the case of astorage, and disaster recovery seems like a no-brainer. site disaster.A simple Internet search yields countless testimonials on its Even though most “disasters” are smaller in scope, businessesmanifold benefits, some of which might include the following: always need to prepare for the possibility of a large-scale disruption of their site. Everything from hurricanes to tornados to construction trucks accidently driving through an office haveCustomers are not dependent on a single server. demolished businesses in the past and they will continue doing soData stored in the cloud can be distributed across a wide array in the future. Having data stored in the cloud protects it from suchof servers, which are often geographically disparate. Since every on-site disasters.machine will fail sooner or later, storing data in the cloud seems tooffer good protection. Customers can provision virtual storage containers that are larger than the physical space available.Customers have no direct hardware dependency. The advent of virtual technology has made it possible for cloudIn addition to not having to worry about the failure of a single adopters to create storage that is larger than the physical serverserver, cloud adopters don’t necessarily need to have any hardware that’s hosting it, cutting costs.on-site. This can reduce costs, among other benefits. Customers can access all of their storage from a single inter-Customers can purchase and expand cloud services face anywhere in the world.dynamically. Whether it’s on a computer, a smart phone, or some other device,Whether a cloud adopter is purchasing storage for the first time or cloud adopters have access to their data anywhere.growing what they currently have, the pay-as-you go model makesit easy to get just the right amount. This applies not only to storagespace, but to hardware and to dedicated IT staff as well.3 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
OR JUST THUNDER CLOUDS?Looking at these benefits, it’s easy to get swept away by the • Amazon Cloud Goes Down, Takes Every Hot Startupcloud. With It2Unfortunately, there’s thunder on the horizon. The truth • Google, Microsoft cloud crashes: Is this the newis that there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the cloud. For normal?3example, Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, recently told • Why Amazon’s cloud Titanic went down4the Wall Street Journal, • EMC Atmos Goes Offline5 The interesting thing about cloud computing is that • Apple MobileMe gets De-Mobilized6 we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything • Gmail outage passes 24 hours for some7 that we already do. I can’t think of anything that isn’t The consistency with which major cloud providers have cloud computing with all of these announcements…. failed is alarming and some experts predict that it will Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is only get worse. According to Gartner, “By 2014, a major talking about. What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s cloud-computing service provider will suffer a cascading insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?1 failure, resulting in unrecoverable data loss and permanent business impact for multiple customers.”8Ellison’s quote appears in an article called “Oracle’s EllisonNails Cloud Computing,” suggesting the CEO is not alonein his suspicions and confusion. But the darkened sky ismore than simply uncertainty at the proper way to use thelatest marketing buzzword. In practice, the cloud has runinto some serious problems. Consider, for example, thissmall selection of headlines from the last few years:4 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CLOUD ADOPTIONOf course, what we’ve shown so far are the extremes. Of that, however, only 39 percent will be using paid services. And 64 percent of those paying for the cloud willAs with every emerging technology, there are loud voices only pay for three services or fewer.9pushing for adoption, frustrated voices complaining aboutfailure, and the truth somewhere in between. The survey also reveals other telling features of the cloud as it is and will be in the near future.A cloud adoption study published by Microsoft in 2011offers a good perspective. Eighty-two percent of the respondents claimed that buying a cloud service from a local provider was important, andThey surveyed 3,258 companies globally with between those who did purchase services from local providerstwo and two hundred and fifty employees and asked them were more likely to use paid services.10 At the same time,about how they were currently using the cloud and how those who don’t plan on paying for cloud services werethey expected to use the cloud in the future. Microsoft more concerned about control than anything else. Fifty-identified nine specific services that could be adopted seven percent wanted to keep things in house because theyin the cloud (including accounting software, project believed they’d have better control.11management, and data storage and backup) and askedparticipating companies to evaluate their current usage Fifty-three percent said they wouldn’t acquire cloudof these services, as well as their projected usage in three services because they simply didn’t know enough aboutyears. The survey also distinguished between free cloud them to make a good decision.12services and paid ones. In summarizing the study, Marco Limena, vice presidentThe results clearly demonstrate the patchy adoption of of business channels for Worldwide Communicationscloud services thus far. Sector at Microsoft, assessed the current and future state of cloud computing: “Cloud adoption will be gradual, andFor example, at the time of the survey, 66 percent of the SMBs will continue to operate in a hybrid model with anrespondents used some kind of cloud service (free or paid). increasing blend between off-premises and traditional on-Within three years, that number will grow to 74 percent. premises infrastructure, for the foreseeable future.”135 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCEOF RAINIt’s difficult for anyone these days to navigate this current a solution provider, you need to be ready with the cloudstate of the cloud. Which technologies do you adopt? How story you’re going to tell.deeply do you invest? Is the technology ready for you to jumpin all the way? At StorageCraft, our forecast for the cloud is simply this: partly cloudy with a chance of rain. In other words, cloudFor MSPs and VARs, the question is even more computing isn’t going to go away, but it is going to growcomplicated. Not only do you need to figure out which slowly and is still fraught with potential risks. As such,cloud technologies will work best for your own business, we’ve prepared a number of recommendations for partnersbut you need to determine how cloud offerings fit into your who are looking to push forward:products and services as well. • Be the expert (or find a partner who is).The high-level summary of these various studies is that • Understand the cloud provider’s SLAs.businesses will be slow to embrace cloud computing and • Build solutions that meet client needs and budget.when they do, they’ll still maintain some kind of on-sitebackup. At the same time, when they do adopt, it will • Don’t rush.likely be from local, trusted sources. This means that as6 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
BE THE EXPERT (OR FIND A PARTNER WHO IS)Consider again this statistic from the Microsoft study:53% of respondents agreed with the statement “I don’tknow enough about cloud computing to be able to makedecisions about using cloud service.”This is a significant percentage and it underscores the needfor MSPs and VARs to become the experts, to becomeproficient at educating their clients in the ramificationsof the cloud. The businesses described by this quote aresimply sitting back and waiting for someone to help themunderstand the trend. If you’re not an expert, or haven’tpartnered with someone who is, then you’re missing yourchance to educate that client and meet his or her need.Clients are coming to you to tell them what to do when itcomes to their backup and disaster recovery. They don’thave the time to become experts on the cloud, so if you’regoing to offer it, you need to fill that role. And if you can’t(or choose not to), be sure to partner with a cloud providerwho can.7 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
UNDERSTAND THE CLOUDPROVIDER’S SLAsMost IT service providers guarantee a specific level of service Not only is the client’s data completely lost, but if they Where SLAs Break Downto their customers. Whether it’s 99.9% uptime, no data loss, do not remove the corrupted file, they’ll continue to pay Hello,or guaranteed replication to another server, these service storage charges. Imagine having to explain this data loss to level agreements (SLAs) are crucial to how the provider your own clients. A few days ago we sent you anoperates. email letting you know that we As important as it is to understand the SLAs of theIn fact, in many cases, the SLA becomes the differentiator providers you’re partnering with, it’s just as important to were working on recoveringbetween one organization and another. recognize that no SLA is completely bullet proof. This is an inconsistent data snapshot that chance of rain in our forecast and frankly, you need to of one or more of your StorageWhen looking to partner with cloud providers, then, it’s be the umbrella. volumes. We are very sorry, butvital that you understand those SLAs and evaluate which ultimately our efforts to manuallyoffers the best service for your needs. If you are going to be Consider each SLA and look for points of weakness, then recover your volume wereoffering cloud services to your own clients through a third bolster your own offering to protect your own clients. unsuccessful. The hardware failedparty, then you need to know exactly what you’re offering. As one Amazon customer told its own clients, “Our in such a way that we could not development team is also hard at work to limit the impact forensically restore the data.At the same time, it’s just as important that you take all of any future AWS interruptions.”15 Don’t wait until after a SLAs with a grain of salt. Some guarantees are virtually disaster to implement procedures that control the way your What we were able to recover hasimpossible to enforce. For example, what if your cloud cloud provider affects your clients. been made available via a snapshot,provider goes out of business? Imagine you’ve moved all of although the data is in such a stateyour own data or the data of your clients into storage with that it may have little to no utility...a cloud provider that files for bankruptcy. How can they possibly meet their promised level of service then? If you have no need for thisWhen Amazon’s EC2 cloud service crashed in 2011, the snapshot, please delete it to avoidfallibility of SLAs became apparent. The letter reprinted incurring storage charges.in the sidebar is one Amazon sent to a client following the crash (as reported on MSNBC). We apologize for this volume loss and any impact to your business. Sincerely,148 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
BUILD SOLUTIONS THAT MEET CLIENT NEEDS AND BUDGETIt should be apparent by now that the cloud is not a one-size- requirements of many executives to back up to the cloudfits-all solution. without relinquishing control of your customer’s data to a third party. With a corporate cloud, you still have completeAs such, it is imperative that you understand your control. Unfortunately, with a corporate cloud, you take oncustomers’ business models, their needs, and their budgets all the cost and risk yourself, which is no small thing.as you create solutions to move their data to the cloud.Within the context of those needs and budgets, you can then The third option, of course, is simply replicating to thework to build a backup and disaster recovery plan that takes cloud. There are many benefits to this, but it’s importantadvantage of the cloud, but still protects them from the rain. to remember that once you replicate data to a third party cloud provider, you’re no longer in control of it. You can’tTo start out, we always recommend that you include a go into their cloud environment and do failovers or testlocal backup in your plan. That way, if your cloud provider restores with your own data. There are a few servicesgoes out of business or has that major cascading failure that allow this, but not many. As you make your cloudpredicted by Gartner, your data is protected. Once you plan, then, you need to be sure that you’re meeting yourhave that local copy, you can create an off-site solution. customer’s needs. If all they need is to transfer their data toThe traditional off-site model is to simply replicate to a the cloud, then it may be the perfect solution. If, however,data center somewhere. Whether you’re using a colocation they need to recover that data quickly, if their recoverycenter or simply storage at your office or home, the data time objective is a day or less, then the cloud may notcenter model allows you to recover easily from a site- work. The time it takes to pull data back from the cloud,specific disaster. Data centers are not technically a cloud whether over the Internet or by some other route, may be asolution and it does not offer many of those benefits, but deal breaker.they are still a perfectly respectable and reliable solution. Of course you could always mix these options, replicatingA second solution is to create a corporate cloud. This is a your local backup to a data center, for instance, and thenhybrid approach. Here, you’ve taken your corporate cloud replicating it into the cloud. In any event, it’s imperative asand virtualized it so you can quickly provision machines you create your cloud offering that you understand whatand work with elastic data sets. This allows for dynamic your customer actually needs. Each of the options offersgrowth and the manipulation of images you’ve moved there. different benefits and drawbacks and you won’t do yourselfYou can spin them up, restore them to a virtual or physical any favors trying to force a solution on a client that doesn’tmachine and so on. A corporate cloud even allows you to meet their needs. No one likes to be sold something theytest disaster recovery plans. A corporate cloud can meet don’t need.9 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
DON’T RUSHMost people think about the cloud like it’s an application.You buy it, you install it, and that’s it. But that’s not reallyhow it works.Using the cloud is really a phased process. Once youunderstand the needs of your customers, you can providesolutions that allow them to take advantage of the cloud asthey truly need it.The research presented in this paper suggests that cloudadoption is going to happen slowly, as users graduallymove business-line applications to the cloud as needed.This allows them to get a sense of the benefits the cloud isactually providing in a measured and controlled way.As an MSP or VAR, you should do the same. You don’tneed to throw everything into the cloud all at once (partlycloudy, remember?). You can take the time to learn howcloud computing really fits into your offering and how itcan meet the needs of your customers.10 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
GETTING OUT OF THE SMOGThe truth is that for all the hype about its benefits, the cloudis not yet living up to its promises for many people.That doesn’t mean it will never meet those expectations,but right now we should consider it for what it is: anemerging group of technologies that have promise but thatare still trying to figure out exactly how they work. Withthat perspective, we can be smart. We can take our time,and we can develop cloud strategies that meet the needs ofour clients and that make sense.11 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
NOTES1. Dan Farber, “Oracle’s Ellison nails cloud computing,” 7. Seth Weintraub, “Gmail outage passes 24 CNET News, September 26, 2008, http://news.cnet. hours for some (updated),” CNNMoney, com/8301-13953_3-10052188-80.html. February 28, 2011, http://tech.fortune.cnn.2. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, “Amazon Cloud Goes com/2011/02/28/gmail-outage-passes-24-hours- Down, Takes Every Hot Startup With It,” Business for-some/?section=magazines_fortune&utm_ Insider, April 21, 2011, http://www.businessinsider. source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_ca com/why-is-reddit-down-2011-4. mpaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fmagazine s_fortune+%28Fortune+Magazine%29.3. Kevin McCaney, “Google, Microsoft cloud crashes: Is this the new normal?” Washington Technology, 8. Jay Heiser, “Will Your Data Rain When the Cloud September 13, 2011, http://washingtontechnology. Bursts?,” Gartner, September 24, 2010, ID Number: com/articles/2011/09/12/google-microsoft-cloud- G00206825. outages.aspx. 9. “SMB Cloud Adoption Study Dec 2010—Global4. David Goldman, “Why Amazon’s cloud Titanic went Report.” Microsoft, March 24, 2011. 7. down,” CNNMoney, April 22, 2011, http://money. 10. Ibid. 17. cnn.com/2011/04/22/technology/amazon_ec2_ 11. Ibid. 16. cloud_outage/index.htm. 12. Ibid.5. Dave Raffo, “EMC Atmos Online goes offline, 13. “Microsoft unveils findings from its SMB Cloud other cloud storage providers look to step. Adoption Study,” Microsoft, March 24, 2011, http:// up,” SearchCloudStorage, July 2, 2010, http:// www.microsoft.com/presspass/emea/presscentre/ searchcloudstorage.techtarget.com/news/1516117/ pressreleases/MSSMBCloudAdoption.mspx. EMC-Atmos-Online-goes-offline-other-cloud- storage-providers-look-to-step-up. 14. Henry Blodgett, “Amazon’s cloud crash destroyed many customers’ data,” Technolog on MSNBC,6. Andrew R. Hickey, “10 Notable Cloud Outages and April 28, 2011, http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_ What Caused Them,” slide 1, “Apple MobileMe Gets news/2011/04/28/6549775-amazons-cloud-crash- De-mobilized,” CRN, February 23, 2010, http://www. destroyed-many-customers-data. crn.com/slide-shows/applications-os/223100370/10- notable-cloud-outages-and-what-caused-them. 15. Ibid. htm?pgno=4.12 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.
ABOUT STORAGECRAFTAt StorageCraft, the goal of complete business continuity the most of your backup CONTACT USdrives everything we do. Our flagship, StorageCraft images. It includes the StorageCraft TechnologyShadowProtect®, is a full-featured, best-in-class BDR solution following features: Corporationthat is both fast and reliable. • HeadStart Restore® leverages 11850 South Election Road,Imagine a backup solution that takes full, differential, and your ShadowProtect images Suite 100incremental images of your disks, including not only your before a disaster by pre- Draper, Utah 84020 USAdata, but your OS and applications too. staging them as a VM, so recovery can happen in Phone: 801.545.4700 • Perform complete, bare-metal restores every time. Our mere minutes. Fax: 801.545.4705 Hardware Independent RestoreTM technology restores to any machine. • ShadowStreamTM is an www.storagecraft.com alternative file transfer• Access files at a specific point in time and recover data technology that offers speeds up to 5 times faster than email@example.com on a granular level. FTP and does not require separate hardware.• Boot your ShadowProtect images as virtual machines • intelligentFTPTM transforms traditional FTP into a (VMs) with VirtualBootTM. BDR-friendly transfer solution by offering automatic• Manage multiple instances of ShadowProtect across network replication with greater control over what, multiple environments. how, and when you replicate. • ShadowControl ImageManager also offers otherMAKING THE MOST OF BACKUP powerful business continuity features such as consolidation, verification, retention, and notification.We also have a growing array of tools that unlock the fullpotential of your ShadowProtect images. We also offer ShadowProtect Granular Recovery for Exchange to give you complete, granular access to imagesStorageCraft ShadowControlTM ImageManager is a full- of your Exchange servers.featured companion to ShadowProtect that lets you make13 | ® 2012 StorageCraft. All rights reserved.