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What are the pros and cons of using BRIC for a redundant cloud architecture?

Expert Brien Posey explains how using a Bunch of Redundant Independent Clouds architecture can protect data, but not without three common hurdles.

Bunch of Redundant Independent Clouds refers to a redundant cloud architecture in which cloud storage providers...

are treated similarly to disks within a RAID array. Rather than relying on a single provider, data is striped across multiple cloud providers. This accomplishes a couple of different things.

First and foremost, using a Bunch of Redundant Independent Clouds (BRIC) architecture protects an organization against outages. If an organization relied solely on a single cloud storage provider and that provider had a major outage or went out of business, the organization would suffer the consequences. BRIC architecture uses multiple cloud storage providers to ensure redundancy. That way, the organization is protected against an outage.

The other thing that this type of redundant cloud architecture accomplishes is data privacy. None of the cloud providers used within the BRIC array store a complete copy of the data. As such, if a cloud provider were to suffer a security breach, the data should theoretically remain secure since the provider only stores data fragments.

Currently there are several concerns related to the use of BRIC architecture.

1. Cost. One of the factors that led to the rapid adoption of cloud services was that cloud services were perceived as being less expensive than on-premises IT operations. Cloud storage providers have already received harsh criticism for using pricing models that are difficult to understand and often contain hidden fees. The end result has been that cloud storage is sometimes more expensive than expected. A BRIC architecture depends on the use of multiple cloud providers. Some redundant cloud configurations use 10 or more cloud storage providers. Needless to say, the use of multiple providers rapidly increases costs.

2. Regulatory compliance. Some organizations have regulatory or operating requirements to store data in a specific geographical region. The BRIC architecture makes it extremely difficult to prove to an auditor where the organization’s data actually resides.

3. Configuration. BRIC has also received criticism for being difficult to configure and for not being officially supported by any of the major cloud storage providers. Even so, at least some organizations are using the BRIC architecture because the redundancy and privacy that it provides make up for issues with cost and accountability.

Next Steps

How to prepare for outages or failures with cloud services

Why some enterprises choose multiple cloud providers

How to run a high-availability data center using cloud

This was last published in September 2014

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