CloudCast Weekly: Object storage news, BYOD for backup, SDN survey data

In this week-in-review podcast, Jessica and Gina discuss backup and storage opportunities for providers, and preview some results of a new SDN survey.

Fire up your solid-state drives because it's all about -- OK, mostly about -- storage and backup on this week's episode of CloudCast Weekly.

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From cloud object storage for big data to mobile backup for bring your own device (BYOD), cloud providers have several opportunities to add more value to a vanilla cloud storage offering. After all, success in the cloud storage market hinges heavily on not allowing your core product to turn into a low-margin commodity

Join site editor Jessica Scarpati and news writer Gina Narcisi as they discuss the following topics in this week-in-review podcast for the week of Feb. 4, 2013:

The following is a transcript of the podcast.

Jessica Scarpati: You're listening to CloudCast Weekly, a podcast by SearchCloudProvider.com. I'm Jessica Scarpati, site editor of SearchCloudProvider.com, and with me, as always, is Gina Narcisi, our news writer. What's up, Gina?

Gina Narcisi: Hey, Jessica. Same old.

Scarpati: Same old, same old podcast room, but fresh and new, new stories to promote, right?

Narcisi: Naturally.

Scarpati: Yes, so we're here to give you a quick roundup of ... Well, we used to say everything that's here on the site this week, but now we have so much awesome stuff that we're going to give you a preview of some of the stuff that's new on the site this week.

Gina, you have two new stories that we're going to talk about. The first one has to do with cloud object storage and how it kind of relates back to big data.

Narcisi: Right, Jessica. So I did a story, you know, back at the end of 2012 about big data and, basically, this story is talking about how big data is actually an opportunity for cloud providers to sort of cash in on this trend. And so specifically cloud object storage is really useful for something like big data because it's a lot of unstructured data.

Object storage can kind of help with that just because it stores metadata with the data. So you don't really have to organize anything, but it saves everything as a nice, big chunk for you with that metadata in there. It's easy to search for, and it's just another type of storage that cloud providers can start to offer other than block storage, specifically for this kind of data.

And so it's useful because a lot of customers, big data is something that they don't know how to handle, and it's something that's really costly to store, so an offering like this can kind of help them realize the benefits of the cloud.

And I also talked to a couple of analysts, and one thing I also learned was that as great as object storage could be for things like big data, they're really struggling with how to get it there, because it's just so much data and moving that information is sort of a battle that enterprises are facing at this point.

Scarpati: Yeah, and you see a lot of providers, and I guess Amazon is kind of notorious for this, charging for bandwidth in and out. So if you're uploading all the stuff, I mean, the customers are going to be paying a lot of money, like you said, just to get it in there, never mind like subscribe to the actual service.

Narcisi: Right, definitely.

Scarpati: So, yeah, I think that's one of those things that comes up a lot when we talk about storage, right? That the providers need to find a way to make it kind of economical for customers because of that one issue.

Narcisi: Right, definitely. And a lot of providers are actually coming out with offerings geared specifically towards big data. I mean, Amazon has Redshift now, and it's just, I feel like a lot of cloud providers are going to start following suit. For this article, I actually spoke to Caringo, and they really specialize in object storage.

So another interesting part of this story is that a lot of different verticals that maybe weren't looking to the cloud before are actually interested in offering things like this. You know, take like the healthcare industry, for example: They have a lot of x-rays to store, a lot of MRI images, and so something like this could be great for them, because it also stores it in such a way that it's not putting the patient name right out there with it. So it's also secure, and it meets all the HIPAA compliance.

Scarpati: Well, it will be interesting to see if these providers also offer some kind of analytic service alongside it since that obviously goes hand in hand with big data.

Narcisi: Definitely.

Scarpati: Okay, Gina, so you also had a story that we’re going to talk about regarding BYOD, everyone's favorite abbreviation.

Narcisi: Absolutely. You definitely hear this term thrown around a lot, but now it's actually presenting an interesting opportunity for providers because basically people are using their devices. You know, they're bringing them into work, their iPhones, whatever, their tablets. They're on the road. They're viewing documents and files and information from their company on their personal devices, and sometimes they're storing this data on those devices. And it's something that a lot of companies are overlooking completely.

I'm not sure if it's because maybe they haven't exactly realized yet that data is in places that they've never imagined it would be before, or it's something they're overlooking because of cost. So basically these providers are stepping forward with different offerings designed specifically for like mobile data, backing up mobile data.

So I talked to one company called Acronis, and they're a DR provider. And they're talking about how in a survey they conducted, 80% of employees were using these personal devices to, you know, to view corporate information, but 65% of business customers were not backing up this data in any way.

So it's difficult right now because even though people might be using their iPhones and their devices to access company data, they're not always saving it to their phones. So it's really a toss-up right now, and it can be hard to back up these devices because sometimes you back up, you know, people's pictures instead. That's like their personal information.

So I think that might be one of the reasons why enterprises are kind of shying away from backing up these devices at all, but that can also be a bad thing because somebody loses their tablet or whatever, and it has information that shouldn't be on there, then they kind of have to start from a place they shouldn't have started from before.

Scarpati: That came up right with Rachel Dines, the Forrester analyst. She's in there talking about how this is often a reactive thing, like that catastrophe situation happens and everyone is like, "Oh …we should be backing this up."

Narcisi: Definitely. It's usually that can be said for a lot of things, but sometimes something happens negatively, right? Then you have to sort of figure out what to do from there, but I think companies are going to start becoming more aware of this, and they can even put things in place, you know, maybe policies that not allow you to save certain things, but you can view it.

And one of the analysts I was talking to said that, you know, some people are bringing the stuff down from the cloud but it's not staying on their devices. So it's all about where the data lives and if companies decide BYOD backup is for them. It's definitely an offering that cloud providers are starting to get in on.

Scarpati: This reminds me. I spoke to a very, very large service provider several months ago, and they weren't quite ready to announce publicly yet --we're not going to name them. So it was really interesting. They were working on something that kind of solves this problem. They're saying how they're developing . . . he described it as a "Mission Impossible" kind of service, and like, "This message will self-destruct" after like a certain number of times.

So that an employee needs to access something from something, wherever the cloud storage is, but maybe they're going to be on an airplane and they need to cache it locally a little bit, but the business doesn't want to risk like keeping it on there.

Narcisi: Right.

Scarpati: The IT departments will be like set up and say, "Okay, we want this file to be wiped from the device in six hours or whatever." So I think it's going to be really interesting once we start seeing stuff like that that really starts to address kind of these very specific issues.

Narcisi: Definitely. And I guess it's something you never had to think about before people were using their work computers at their desks, and it ended there. And there was just not really this risk like there is today.

Scarpati: I have to say I feel like when I see these surveys, I kind of feel old-fashioned.  I feel like I'm the only one I know who saves everything to the network.

Narcisi: Yeah.

Scarpati: Right? Because I don't back anything up, but, yeah, maybe I guess maybe if we had more options with our smartphones, it would be a little easier.

Narcisi: Yeah, I mean, I think the key is just if you make it easier people are just going to do it. Yeah, I mean, they don't really have a choice right now.

Scarpati: Well, Gina, thank you, as always, for joining us. It is always fun and very entertaining to have you here.

Narcisi: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Scarpati: For a long, long time, advances in networking were pretty, well, predictable: more capacity, more ports, more power. Everything just got bigger and better, and everyone was fairly okay with that. But then virtualization started playing a bigger role in the data center and cloud media followed.

Service providers had to become cloud providers. Dedicated hosting started to give way to multi-tenant virtual environments, and vendors in almost every other area of IT infrastructure responded, coming out with more feature-rich server virtualization platforms, virtual storage hypervisors, virtual firewalls, virtual everything.

And with a few exceptions, networking vendors kept making bigger boxes … until the academic and open source communities started buzzing in 2011 about a new network of architecture, software defined networking which would be designed to meet the demands of this new cloud delivery model. As SDN traction picked up, cloud providers were among its earliest and most eager adopters. And as the technology has continued to mature, we at SearchCloudProvider.com decided it was time to test the waters.

So we surveyed nearly 700 service providers from global network operators to managed service providers about SDN, and we found out a few fun facts. For instance, we knew providers were bullish on SDN, but it was still a surprise to learn that a whopping 84% of survey respondents said they were working on SDN projects. And almost half of that group said it was one of their highest networking projects or their top networking priority.

Even more interesting, most providers believe SDN will commoditize network switches, and eight out of 10 said SDN is the only way to build more programmable networks. Check out more results from our survey in a new slideshow on the site called, "SDN survey offers snapshots of provider plans and vendor issues."

And that is all that we have for you this week. Be sure to check out all the articles we talked about and more on SearchCloudProvider.com. Thanks for listening.

 

This was first published in February 2013
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