Archiving in the cloud with Amazon Glacier storage

Cloud archiving and online file sharing are two of the most popular uses for storing and sharing data in the cloud, but these products are not without some caveats. In this video interview, Wayne Pauley, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, discusses how to get the best economic benefit out of Amazon Glacier storage, why durability is the best protection mechanism for data and how encryption will play a bigger role in online file sharing.

What are some Amazon Glacier storage use cases, and what are its advantages?

Wayne Pauley: Glacier is a great offering for someone who wants to do long-term archival. It ingests data fairly inexpensively. Like you said, they talk about three to five hours for a retrieval time. It's not [data] that you're going to want to instantly bring back. It's just not going to be good for that.

[Glacier is] a great offering from a price-point point of view, and there are a couple of companies that have taken their backup products and modified them so they can write to Glacier for long-term retention. I think it's a good regulatory offering. It's encrypted, and it's very inexpensive. Those are going to be the key things that are going to drive why you would use [Amazon Glacier]. The economic benefit is very good.

What are the disadvantages associated with cloud archiving?

Pauley: Well, the disadvantages are the time it takes to do a retrieval. Second, you're relying on the service levels of the off-premises provider. You're going to have to make sure you understand they use a term called durability. They use an 11 nines durability number. Amazon and Google, for example, are the two sites that tend to use that term. They base that on the fact that they keep four copies of everything. So, if you lose four copies, then you've lost all the copies of your data. But 11 nines is a big number. I think they state that means that one object in every 10,000 will be lost in 10,000 years or something like that. It's quite a big number. You have to be aware they use durability as a way of measuring the protection mechanism for your data.

What kind of technology improvements do online file-sharing services need for enterprise users to trust them?

Pauley: That's a great question. The thing that has made IT a little worried about the use of [an online file-sharing service] is that it hasn't flowed through any IT governance processes. I think these providers have to come up with mechanisms that allow traditional IT protection mechanisms to be applied. So there have to be some filtering mechanisms. Encryption is going to be more and more important over time, and having a centralized authority for being able to manage and look at what's being stored in these repositories. I think those tools are starting to appear in the marketplace, but there's not a consistency [and] there's not good standards. I think we're still early in the lifecycle there.

So enterprise IT departments want more control over access and permissions?

Pauley: Enterprises want to be able to offer the service and provide it to the internal consumers, but they want to make sure they can apply governance and security protections to that data, just as they do to any data that's stored on premises.

About the presenter
Wayne Pauley is a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass. His focus is on cloud computing, IT as a Service and the software-defined data center.

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