As IT continues in a zigzag path of figuring out what to do with this "cloud" stuff, it seems that some companies are getting ahead of themselves. In particular, the concept of outsourcing storage to a cloud provider puzzles me. I can see some benefits in other cloud services (though I still find the trust aspect difficult to reconcile), but full-on cloud storage offerings don't make sense outside of some rare circumstances.
The value proposition for these types of services is that it removes the need for an organization to provide general file storage. Servers will still need some form of local storage, of course, but when Betty in Accounting fires up a new spreadsheet, that file actually exists on the cloud storage provider's gear in a data center somewhere. This means that IT doesn't have to worry about purchasing, maintaining, and backing up local storage resources, and because it's a "cloud," it's assumed that those files will be perfectly maintained and constantly available. That's what we always hear, right? The cloud is infallible.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Matt Prigge urges IT and users to call a truce on the senseless battle over easy, secure data access. | Subscribe to InfoWorld's storage newsletter and stay on top of the latest info. ]
The reality of this situation is not quite so rosy. And in most cases, there's little to be gained by deploying file storage in this way. Sure, removing the onus of backing up those files is a net gain for IT, but then again, there's already storage in the data center running the servers. That means there's already a backup solution in place, and adding local file storage is trivial. Unless the entire organization is running on the cloud -- servers, storage, apps, and so on -- this is fundamentally true. Thus, there's little to be gained by eliminating backups for user data.
Then there's the bandwidth issue. If you're moving all your user files offsite, you better have invested in tons of bandwidth, as well as robust failover circuits for when the primary circuit gives out. In fact, you'd better go as far as you can with that redundancy, ensuring that the circuits take different paths out of the building, and potentially utilize two different carriers if at all possible. Without connectivity, your users might as well go home.
When (not if) the Internet egress circuits go down but local file storage is in place, the impact on the users is signfiicantly less than a full cloud solution. Betty can open her spreadsheet, Bob can work on that presentation, and Phyllis can still type up her TPS reports. Sure, Internet resources are down, but the company can still operate even when nobody can get to Facebook.