To enterprises that handle large amounts of application data, completely cloud-based storage may seem like the best way forward. However, the recent shutdown of startup Nirvanix has brought some of the cloud's shortcomings to the fore and underscored the importance of maintaining physical backups. A solution like the DIGISTOR Enterprise Archive can provide enterprises with reliable storage at considerable scale, using a Blu-ray jukebox that keeps terabytes of data safe for the long- term.
Reporting on the issue for CRN, Joseph Kovar and Kevin McLaughlin explained that Nirvanix provides public, private and hybrid cloud storage for businesses, but it stated that it would be going offline by the end of September 2013. Its customers appear to have been caught off-guard, having received no advance notice that they would need to explore other options. For companies that operate at a major scale and also rely on Nirvanix for disaster recovery, the announcement has put them in a bind.
"When you have, say, a petabyte of data in a cloud, it is not easy to get it out," an anonymous source told CRN. "It takes time to federate the data. It might still take a year to move it all electronically."
Cloud costs and risks
The cloud's nominal selling points are its affordability compared with on-premises IT infrastructure and its scalability. However, none of that matters if servers go down or the provider shutters operations, in which case it is critical to make physical data backups by writing to media like Blu-ray discs via tools like DIGISTOR data archiving solutions. By comparison, redundant cloud backups can quickly become expensive, requiring synchronization between multiple services.
For small providers like Nirvanix, the prevailing cloud business model may also be tough to maintain. Cloud storage may sometimes appear inexpensive to buyers, but only because established cloud players can afford to undercut competitors on cost.
"Storage is a very capital-intensive business for cloud providers," one partner told CRN. "Let's say you spend $8 million on a storage system and the next day Google starts giving away 'x' amount of storage for free. As a cloud provider, you can't keep up – you have to amortize and depreciate the system you just bought."
Enterprises without local backups may have trouble meeting Nirvanix's shutdown deadline. InformationWeek editor Charles Babcock explained that cloud migrations can take days or even weeks, depending on the provider's storage write speeds and bandwidth allotments.