Take Heed From the Nirvanix Failure: Diversify and Hedge Your Cloud Services

by Jim Lyons, NetApp

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Cloud pioneers have developed a number of innovative technical strategies to reduce risks and improve the availability of their cloud architectures. Netflix is known for its Chaos Monkey software for testing cloud services. Salesforce.com touts its “storage over flaky technologies” approach for building cloud services using commodity components. Amazon enables deployments across separate geographic regions and availability zones within its massive hyperscale cloud environment to support the design of fault-tolerant services.

However, it’s not clear if any of those techniques would have prevented the grief experienced by Nirvanix cloud service customers, who were left virtually stranded when the company closed shop recently. Those customers, more than 1,000 in all, were given just a few weeks to migrate (or, alternatively, destroy) an estimated 40 petabytes of data out of several data centers.

But rather than look at the Nirvanix situation and hit the panic button on your own cloud project, you would do well to listen to the experts and consider two well-known strategies for risk reduction: diversification and hedging.

Analyst Perspective on the Nirvanix Cloud Failure
Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf says a number of circumstances are more likely to cause you to change service providers than a Nirvanix-style meltdown. For the most part, these involve the ability of your supplier to meet critical service-level agreements or adhere to the terms of your business arrangement. Hilgendorf advises clients to “build a cloud exit strategy/plan for every service you depend upon.”

Writing about the potential impact on the cloud storage model, Simon Robinson of 451 Research cautions that “while it’s always tempting to view one failure as symptomatic of a wider issue, it’s important to view it as just that: the failure of one relatively small operation.”

How Five IT Leaders Deliver Business Value With an Agile Data Infrastructure

Forrester’s Henry Baltazar emphasizes the need for hybrid clouds and storage mobility. He recommends taking the following steps to minimize risks in cloud storage deployments and facilitate a graceful exit strategy:

Diversify Risk by Using Multiple Cloud Providers
Diversification is a proven risk-reduction approach in the financial industry. Cloud diversification requires efficient data portability because exporting data out of a single cloud service can take days, weeks or even months. For example, it can take 13 days to transfer just 1 TB of data from a cloud service using a 10 Mbps connection.

Portability is one of the characteristics that make the NetApp® Data ONTAP® operating system an ideal universal data platform for spanning private, public and hyperscale clouds. Portability based on proven SnapMirror® data replication technology enables the deployment of hybrid cloud environments, giving customers the ability to leverage a worldwide ecosystem of cloud provider partners in efforts to diversify the IT supply chain and reduce business risk.

Hedge Your Cloud Data Strategy With Direct Connect
Another approach to protecting critical data is to not put it in the cloud in the first place. By leveraging NetApp Private Storage for AWS, you can collocate your own storage adjacent to an Amazon data center, keeping it separate and secure from the cloud while using Direct Connect to tap the vast CPU power of the AWS EC2 service.

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