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Many questions abound in various discussions about cloud services.  How fast must the disk be?  How big must the server be?  It is interesting that these questions mimic those of traditional in-house (localized datacenter) architecture.  Or is it?  Has the myopic nature of silo based organizational IT structure permeated the cloud?  Unfortunately, yes (http://blog.engagedconsulting.com/?p=234).

As part of a recent discussion on the subject, a topic was put forth as “NAS Cloud with Solid State Drives: Is there any advantage of using SSD over SATA, SAS, FC, ISCI when it comes to doing cloud over NAS? Any Performance numbers published on same?” A few responded with varying levels of inquiry to the requirements while also indicating the fact that IOPS (I/O per second) was not the real issue when considering what disk was appropriate for cloud storage.  The discussion went further…..

In addition, network bandwidth will be a limiting factor in most cases, not the IOPS. Thus, the cost to employ SSDs is outweighed by commodity disk with clustered controllers as can be accomplished with minimal expense (i.e. VERITAS Clustered File System, etc.), not to mention other business related aspects. Operational Recovery (backup) and Disaster Recovery certainly need to be taken into account if you wish to serve the disk up as cloud storage. Thus, recovery point and time objectives unique to Operational Recovery and Disaster Recovery may require snapshots, replication, or other forms of protection in conjunction with each other (http://blog.engagedconsulting.com/?p=488).

There are also security concerns with the data / information in transit and at rest. Thus, you will need to understand whether this is a concern of your client base. If so, you will need to look at encryption. In combination with Operational Recovery and replication, encryption can complicate things; however, many deduplication products provide and/or accomplish this while also minimizing the amount of disk required (i.e NetBackup Deduplication).

The thing that strikes me is the continuation of a seperation between technology and business.  Many in the industry still focus solely on technology instead of addressing the entire picture.  Cloud storage is one element of the technology that must appeal to customers on a broad range of needs that are purely business decisions having nothing to do with technology.  We certainly need to look at individual components and architect them appropriate to the level of service they will support; however, we cannot seperate the business context from that architecture.

Cloud requirements are much more than speeds and feeds (how fast / how big).  Additionally, cloud requirements are also much more than monetary.  While monetary components exist and play a large role, cloud must address:

  • security protection
  • operational protection
  • disaster protection

In short, cloud requirements really must address risk management. Business decisions based upon risk are the driving factor for cloud services, not technology widgets and gadgets.  Features and functions certainly play a role in comparing different cloud service providers; however, the assignment, mitigation, and acceptance of risk is the foundation for the requirements an organization has for utilizing cloud services.

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