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Is Woz right? – What’s going on with your cloud?

Level 4

“I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years,” – Steve Wozniak

It is awfully cloudy at vmWorld 2012.  I had an interesting conversation with a partner we’ll refer to as CK.  Cloud storage was one of his top of mind thoughts for his customers.  For this particular partner, his three largest customers offer an intriguing mix of strategies for data storage

  • Large law firm
  • Hospital
  • Graphic arts college

Each presents different challenges regarding storage, archiving and compliance.  CK is not interested in putting any primary application data in the cloud, but wants to make sure that there is redundant data available for his clients.  He is not particularly interested in putting his clients’ information into Big Clouds like Amazon or AT&T, but with nearly a petabyte of data from just those three clients combined, would you trust an upstart newcomer or lesser known entity?

For CK, he wants a simple dumb cloud to be used for backup only.  The law firm needs to retain all of its data forever.  The hospital runs the gamut from single page text document to large image files.  The school has huge graphics files, but they remain static and unchanging.  Each customer needs to keep their data onsite and available, offsite and accessible and a final copy somewhere safe for a rainy day.   One company in particular that he cited for their single focus is Nirvanix.  They have solid integrations with Backup Exec and NetBackup.

CK looks at the rainy day with a tiny bit of suspicion, not unlike Woz.  His concern is that the data, particularly the law firm’s data, remain anonymous and that the user has complete control.  The scenario he painted for me is one where, if the government comes calling on the cloud provider asking for the data, the cloud must tell them “nope…sorry, not our data, you can’t have it.”  Are cloud storage providers going to be tough enough to withstand that kind of pressure?

There are different types of safety when it comes to putting your data in the cloud.  Who do you trust?