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Cloud Computing – The Wave of the Future

An exclusive Q&A with @HenrikRosendahl, Senior VP of Cloud Solutions at Quantum

"Trust is an ongoing journey and sits at the foundation of any vendor relationship - the companies that don't consistently earn trust won't be around long," noted Henrik Rosendahl, Senior VP of Cloud Solutions at Quantum, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "As they do more with cloud, trust will organically grow - maybe it's just about meeting SLAs or seeing firsthand that data is there when you need it," Rosendahl continued.

Cloud Computing Journal: The move to cloud isn't about saving money, it is about saving time. - Agree or disagree?

Henrik Rosendahl: I believe it is actually both. Time is money, as they say. I typically think in terms of efficiency, which encompasses economics as well as the positive impact on administrative workflows. This is certainly true when we talk about cloud-based backup as a service (BaaS). Typically with BaaS customers, the first question is "How much is this going to cost?" Monthly costs are primarily capacity-driven - store more, pay more; however, you don't have to buy future capacity that's not being used for a while so in that sense you save a lot of money. Cloud-based backup and archive solutions enable companies to reduce or eliminate tape, as well as realize the promise of true business continuity. Another benefit of cloud-based solutions, particularly when it comes to backup, is in paying only for the capacity you immediately need, with the ability to scale up as needed, and convert CAPEX to OPEX, which is an important element of flexibility.

Cloud Computing Journal: How should organizations tackle their regulatory and compliance concerns in the cloud? Who should they be asking/trusting for advice?

Rosendahl: There are a lot of vendors right now who are making it their mission to earn the trust of customers in regulatory and compliance issues. In the case of BaaS, I think organizations should start by asking some basic security questions:

What type of security is available at the site where your data resides?

  • Do they have controlled access?
  • Can the provider guarantee the data will ALWAYS reside in that facility and/or remain in country?
  • What type of background check is done with regard to the employees of that data center?
  • What industry regulations do they support, for example:  PCI DSS, HIPAA-HITECH, and NIST 800-5.

What type of encryption is used?

  • Is data encrypted in transit to the cloud?
  • Is data encrypted at rest in the cloud?

How exactly is my data treated in a multi-tenant environment?

  • Does data co-mingle?
  • How does that work?

Cloud Computing Journal: What does the emergence of Open Source clouds mean for the cloud ecosystem? How does the existence of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and so on affect your own company?

Rosendahl: Any time you have open source becoming part of the equation with a set of offerings, it's likely to be good for customers - it's a validation point for the technology. Cloud is the wave of the future. With open source solutions vendor lock-in becomes a non-issue and forces industry wide standards to be adopted. Competition is good for the consumer because it generally drives improvements in products and services while lowering prices, and Open Source solutions invite more competition.

Cloud Computing Journal: With SMBs, the two primary challenges they face moving to the cloud are always stated as being cost and trust: where is the industry on satisfying SMBs on both points simultaneously - further along than in 2011-12, or...?

Rosendahl: We're clearly making progress. Costs are unquestionably coming down. Amazon keeps lowering their price in storage and BaaS costs are coming down. And, we just talked about the effect of open source on the market.

Trust is an ongoing journey and sits at the foundation of any vendor relationship - the companies that don't consistently earn trust won't be around long. As they do more with cloud, trust will organically grow - maybe it's just about meeting SLAs or seeing firsthand that data is there when you need it. We are seeing more companies turning to cloud BaaS. A recent study by ESG Research showed 21% of respondents are already using cloud-based data protection services, and an additional 50% have plans for or interest in third-party cloud backup services. When we talk about data protection, IT managers are inherently risk-averse, with a cultural bias toward being a "late adopter," so there's a chasm between cutting-edge cloud technology and data protection technology that needs to be crossed. For a business, if your SLA isn't met, you're contractually covered, so BaaS companies are incented to meet or exceed SLAs. However, when you start paying for a service you used to do yourself, expectations tend to go up.

Consumers remember outages from Google and Amazon - it's a lot of work to regain public trust after a misfire.

Cloud Computing Journal: 2013 seems to be turning into a breakthrough year for Big Data. How much does the success of cloud computing have to do with that?

Rosendahl: They go hand in hand. Unstructured data is blowing up in terms of annual growth - 3x or 4x the growth of structured data. I saw an Object Storage for Dummies report NetApp put out claiming digital data growth accelerating at a 56% CAGR. Companies don't want to store unstructured data on primary storage, it's just cost prohibitive, so object storage provides a means to keep it accessible and practical. As cloud goes mainstream, it will enable more mainstream uses of Big Data. Companies that previouslydidn't want to keep that data long may soon be able to leverage it to their competitive advantage.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the role of social: aside from the acronym itself SMAC (for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) are you seeing and/or anticipating major traction in this area?

Rosendahl: Social media shows the potential to drive more demand for BaaS. It's certainly not going away and look how quickly it became engrained in marketing efforts.

Cloud Computing Journal: To finish, just as real estate is always said to be about "location, location, location", what one word, repeated three times, would you say Cloud Computing is all about?

Rosendahl: I'd say "agility, agility, agility." Cloud is not just about scalability - it enables you to be agile as a business, to respond to opportunities in the market and shifts in supply and demand very, very quickly. It goes beyond the IT department's ability to scale up or down, it enables true elasticity of business resources.

More Stories By Liz McMillan

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