Caught between cloud and a hard place: The week in cloud

IT execs scoping out whether to adopt cloud storage — or to increase their use of it — right now, must be hating their jobs right about now. Or else running to the server room to hug their on-site gear.

On the one hand, there are near-daily revelations about government data scooping with the cooperation (albeit under pressure) of the big cloud providers — hello Google(s goog) and Microsoft(s msft). On the other, the abrupt shutdown of Nirvanix’ cloud service has them spooked about going with smaller providers.

So what are you to do? For one thing, investigate your proposed provider. Does it have real paying customers? Beware of “reference accounts” that might be users but may not be paying the going rate. Is the company funded and by whom? Does it have solid service level agreements (SLAs)? But even if all those check boxes are checked, the onus is still on the IT provider to have a plan B just in case the cloud provider of choice goes poof.

Cloud brokers like Oxygen Cloud will recommend (shocker) that you use a cloud broker; cloud management providers like Nasuni and TwinStrata swear you need their services — which put your data into the best possible third-party cloud. And most cloud providers — Microsoft Windows Azure; Hewlett-Packard, Egnyte, Rackspace  circled like vultures as Nirvanix customers scurried for a solution.

The problem with SLAs, as Oxygen Cloud VP of marketing Leo Leung pointed out to me, deal with availability and durability but are silent when it comes to recoverability.


Government Computer News  and InformationWeek  have more on the Nirvanix mess.

Is Oracle getting cloud savvy?

Oracle(s orcl), not known for being particularly cloud-focused despite its frequent use of the C-word unveiled  a raft of new cloud services options last week including what appears to be full-on IaaS competitor to Amazon Web Services.  To its credit, Oracle has been in the software-as-a-service biz for quite some time, offering Oracle CRM on Demand and other options to blunt incursions by’, Workday and others in its various application spheres incursions in that arena. But a full fledged AWS rival?

The Register’s Jack Clark did some nosing around Oracle OpenWorld 2013 last week and came up with some of the building blocks of this service. His conclusion? It’s a “Frankenstack” comprising OpenStack Swift-based object storage service; Opscode Chef for provisioning; Nimbula- and OpenStack-based compute services. Oracle bought Nimbula last year.

Whether Oracle’s heart really is in offering variably priced services that can compete with Amazon remains to be seen. The company, as we have seen, relies a lot on the old highly lucrative enterprise sales model and wringing steep service and maintenance fees from current customers. Should Oracle be able to offer high-quality and powerful database services in a price competitive way, it could actually bring net new customers into Oracle’s tent. That would be big news, but I’m not holding my breath.

ICYMI The Storage Show: Paula Long on why flash storage ain’t all that

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]