Cloud storage best practices

A checklist for adopting storage services in the cloud

Someone on a forum asked for a list of best practices in adopting cloud storage. Here's one from the "Cloud Storage: Adoption, Practice and DeploymentReport" which will be launched at Storage Networking World on April 4.

Someone on a forum asked for a list of best practices in adopting cloud storage. Here's one from the "Cloud Storage: Adoption, Practice and Deployment Report" which will be launched at Storage Networking World on April 4.

Moving to cloud storage provides many benefits, but also bears some risk as well. As with any other major IT endeavor, proceed with caution. Doing a little homework and study in advance can help prevent problems later on. The following, while not complete, is a list of some things you should consider when implementing cloud storage:

• Not all cloud services are the same. Make sure your service provider meets you needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

o What degree of redundancy is provided? Some service providers offer multi-site redundancy, some only provide single-site redundancy (mirroring, etc.) while some provide no redundancy at all.

o Is there automatic fail-over in case of a disk/server/site failure?

o Does the provider offer versioning, or do they only store the most current version of a file or data object? Is there a retention period for deleted files? If they do offer versioning, how flexible is the retention policy?

o Does the provider back up data? If so, what is the backup cycle and retention policy? In an emergency how long will it take to restore data? Even cloud service providers can have hardware and software failures that can cause data loss.

o Does the provider offer an easy-to-use management console? Is it web-based and can it be accessed from any location in case of emergency?

o Does the pricing structure fit your business model? For example, some vendors charge for every file access (read, write, etc.) in addition to per-gigabyte upload and download charges. If you are moving large blocks of data those access charges will be minimal. If you are doing primarily database lookups and updates, however, they can add up quickly.

• Determine the cloud deployment model that is best for you. Public, private, hybrid, community or cooperative models all have their pros and cons, but each does not fit every business model.

• Don't put your eggs in one basket. As with local storage make sure you back up your data.

• Do you need local storage as well as cloud storage? Local storage provides immediate access to your data, even if there are network issues. If this is important to you than consider replicating your cloud data locally.

• Read the contract. What liability does the provider have in case of data loss, etc.? What are the service commitments, if any? What happens if there is a billing dispute? Can your data be held hostage, or, even worse, deleted?

• Take things a step at a time. While cloud storage can solve many problems it can create new ones as well. There will be a learning curve for you and your staff. Taking small steps, at least initially, limits your exposure if things don't go as anticipated.

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