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Cloud computing changes the way companies consume IT resources. It shifts the burden of purchasing and maintaining IT infrastructure to specialized IT providers and allows the users to pay only for the resources they need, when they need them. In this new paradigm, cloud security is a top concern.  Companies want to reap the benefits of cloud computing, but are often hesitant because of concerns about security and compliance. In the 21CFR11 regulation, the FDA focused on requirements for ensuring electronic record integrity, accuracy, and availability for agency review throughout the retention period.  The regulation emphasizes record protection from unauthorized access and system validation. Other international agencies have similar regulations. This article captures key points from an interview with Gilad Parann-Nissany, a cloud security pioneer. He addressed some... (more)

Weighing the Options for Onboarding Data into the Cloud

One of the questions we hear most frequently is “how do I get my data into the cloud?” For many organizations, the benefits of expanding on-premise data storage to include hybrid cloud storage have begun to resonate, but they struggle to get started as they determine how to get move data into the cloud. The decision on how to onboard initial data to the cloud, or what we call the initial ingest, is one that cannot be overlooked. While there is more than one way to perform the initial ingest, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the best solution can vary on an individual case basis. Relevant factors influencing the decision include: amount of data intended for ingestion, amount of available bandwidth, timeframe in which you want to load the data. Typically, most organizations will decide on one of the following three methods for the initial ingest: Use existing bandwidt... (more)

Cloud Storage, Storage in the Cloud, and Cloudy Storage Systems

As I discussed in my previous post, What Makes Cloud Storage Different from Traditional SAN and NAS?, today's cloud storage is unique from the SAN and NAS (and even CAS) that has gone before. Beyond the cost and flexibility benefits inherent in public cloud computing resources of all sorts, cloud storage is unique in its openness, programmability, and the possibilities it opens for distribution and collaboration. These compelling benefits, along with an explosion of cloud hype, have led every company with a product even remotely "cloudy" to jump into the market. In my corner of the IT world, everyone from hosting providers to software vendors to traditional array manufacturers are putting forth cloud storage products. As the wise among us already know, these cloud products are not all of equal merit! It has struck me that there are really three kinds of cloud storag... (more)

Hitachi Data Systems Unveils Cloud Enhancements

Hitachi Data Systems Corporation (HDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT) (TOKYO:6501), today announced significant new enhancements to its award-winning object store, Hitachi Content Platform (HCP), and its bottomless, backup-free cloud on-ramp, Hitachi Data Ingestor (HDI). These new enhancements reduce overall costs by enabling organizations to better manage unstructured data growth, ensure content security in shared storage environments and reduce the complexity and inefficiency in traditional, cloud computing and distributed IT environments. “Organizations are looking for new, innovative approaches to deal with the expansive growth of unstructured content and extract the full value of their data,” said Miklos Sandorfi, chief strategist, Hitachi Data Systems. “Our content cloud approach allows organizations to store billions of data objects a... (more)

Announcing SAS SANs for Dummies Book, LSI Edition

There is a new (free) book that I'm a co-author of along Bruce Grieshaber and Larry Jacob (both of LSI) along with foreword by Harry Mason of LSI and President of the SCSI Trade Association titled SAS SANs for Dummies compliments of LSI. This new book (ebook and print hard copy) looks at Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and how it can be used beyond traditional direct attached storage (DAS) configurations for support various types of storage mediums including SSD, HDD and tape. These configuration options include as entry-level SAN with SAS switches for small clusters or server virtualization, or as shared DAS as well as being a scale out back-end solution for NAS, object, cloud and big data storage solutions.   Here is the table of contents (TOC) of SAS SANs for Dummies Chapter 1: Data storage challenges Storage Growth Demand Drivers Recognizing Challenges Solutions and ... (more)

Cloud Conversations: AWS Government Cloud (GovCloud)

Following earlier cloud conversations posts, cloud computing means many things from products to services, functionality and positioned for different layers of service delivery or capabilities (e.g. SaaS, AaaS, PaaS, IaaS and XaaS). Consequently it is no surprise when I hear from different people their opinion, belief or perception of what is or is not a cloud, confidence or concerns, or how to use and abuse clouds among other related themes. A common theme I hear talking with IT professionals on a global basis centers around conversations about confidence in clouds including reliability, security, privacy, compliance and confidentiality for where data is protected and preserved. This includes data being stored in different geography locations ranging from states or regions to countries and continents. What I also often hear are discussion around concerns over data f... (more)

What Makes Cloud Storage Different from Traditional SAN and NAS?

Many in the IT industry seem to enjoy arguing exactly what does and does not constitute a cloud service. As I mentioned in my post on the controversy over private cloud services, I do not feel that these arguments are productive. We should focus on results and business value instead of arguing about semantics. However, the current crop of cloud storage solutions have many important differences from traditional SAN and NAS storage, something that seems to surprise many end users I meet. Cloud storage capacity is not your fathers blocks and files! Primary, Secondary, and Tiered Storage Most IT infrastructures contain a wide variety of storage devices, but these have traditionally been divided into two categories: Primary or production storage serves active applications and is accessed randomly. The primary category includes most familiar direct-attached disks (DAS), s... (more)

Cloud Storage: To API Or Not To API

As discussed last week, cloud storage solutions differ in many ways. They can be defined by their pricing model (usage-based or capitalized), their location (on-site or off-site), the granularity of scalability (per-file, standard unit, or per-system), and whether or not they are multi-tenant. But one of the less-discussed but much more technically-challenging differentiators lies in the access method: Some cloud storage systems use a web protocol-based API for access, while others use conventional storage protocols like NFS or SMB. Today we will discuss the implications of which access protocol is used. API Access: The Heart of the Cloud One hallmark of cloud computing is its programmability: Developers can use standard Internet protocols like HTTP to both access and control resources programmatically. This incredibly powerful concept promises to revolutionize IT ... (more)

Amazon S3 vs Amazon EBS on the Elastic Cloud

Amazon Elastic Block Storage (Amazon EBS) is a new type of storage designed specifically for Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon EBS allows you to create volumes that can be mounted as devices by EC2 instances. Amazon EBS volumes behave as if they were raw unformatted external hard drives and can be formatted using a file system such as ext3 (Linux) or NTFS (Windows) and mounted on an EC2 instance; files are accessed through the file system . They have user supplied device names and provide a block device interface. For a 20 GB volume, Amazon estimates an annual failure rate for EBS volumes from 1-in-200 to 1-in-1000.  The failure rate increases as the size of the volume increases.  Therefore you either need to keep an up-to-date snapshot on S3, or have a backup of the contents somewhere else that you can restore quickly enough to meet your needs in the event of a failure. ... (more)

Cloud Computing Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting Comparison

Hosting Pavilion at Cloud Expo How does the cost of dedicated hosted server solution compare with on demand hosting? For the purpose of the comparison I have selected Rackspace for dedicated server hosting and Amazon for on-demand cloud hosting. (In an earlier post I had compared the cost of different cloud providers). This is only a direct cost comparison. I have not considered issues like support, security, reliability, availability etc. There are also several other assumptions I have made that can be challenged. My one line conclusion is that the market forces have ensured that the prices on paper are comparable – to arrive at what is right for you, performance benchmarking may be called for. The comparison is based on published data as on 16th February, 2010. Rackspace There are 4 listed configuration with standard price (all have 2TB Bandwidth and choice of ... (more)

Want To Find the Power Eaters in Your Data Center?

Green IT on Ulitzer Sentilla Corporation has come up with the first software-only real-time way to track the power utilization of every single asset in a data center from the switchgear down to each and every server, storage and networking device, be they metered or unmetered. CEO Bob Davis says, “In ongoing conversations with CIOs and IT managers we’ve repeatedly heard that tackling the issue of energy use in the data center is a top five priority for 2010. The challenge they face in getting started is the lack of visibility into energy use by unmetered equipment.” Well, no wonder. According to Gartner most widgets in a data center from the server on down are unmetered, which makes Sentilla’s achievement is something of a breakthrough. The start-up used to depend on sensors but has tossed that technique for an Inference Engine that can clock the power consumption of... (more)