Is the Cloud fit for purpose as a storage repository for business data?

Geoff Barrall, Data Robotics

COMMENT: While the credit crunch has caused many businesses to take stock of their IT spending, data growth continues unabated at most UK firms typically doubling every two to three years.

IT managers are being presented with the heady challenge of storing more primary data, and providing backup and recovery services for it, with reduced budgets.

Simply throwing more capacity at the problem is no longer an option as data management problems grow in parallel to data growth. As pressure mounts for something to buckle under this unsupportable problem, cloud-based storage is quickly gaining attention as a potential, alternative solution.

Today, there is seemingly unlimited internet bandwidth available to most UK businesses giving them the means to move primary data into the cloud for backup and recovery purposes. By paying a monthly fee for such a service and avoiding the high capital and operating costs associated with delivering the same service internally, it looks like IT managers have found the answer.

Cloud storage, closely linked to the concept of storage-as-a-service (SaaS), is not new. Yet, on the face of it, the combined factors of credit crunch, data growth and better internet bandwidth clearly make for a compelling solution. Or does it?

Cloud storage origins

While cloud storage has its origins in the consumer market, recently a growing number of providers are clamouring to offer Cloud computing services, including storage, as a viable option for businesses of all sizes.

IDC recently likened the emerging cloud storage industry to a land grab, and saw it as an opportunity for the early players to quickly seize a piece of the SaaS and cloud storage market. But as with any new frontier, the rules of engagement are rarely clear and the hype surrounding any proverbial gold rush typically falls way short of what is promised.

There are inherent risks in any new technological shift, and cloud storage is no exception. To start with, cloud storage faces a plethora of potential international regulatory hurdles, ranging from corporate governance and compliance factors to issues of national data privacy. It is also evolving from a highly fragmented, niche market, where there are few nationally recognised standards or SLAs.