Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Paul Speciale, Lori MacVittie, JP Morgenthal, Elizabeth White, Esmeralda Swartz

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Security, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Blog Feed Post

Can the Cloud Do ‘In Perpetuity’?

One thing, of course, that most public cloud providers are good at is offering a platform upon which others can build

Cloud computing is great, right? As a way to get something up and running quickly, affordably, and with a minimum of fuss, it can rarely be beaten.

But some of the most compelling attributes of the public cloud are best suited to ephemeral or (relatively!) short-term use cases. You can spin up a cloud server in minutes. You can scale a cloud-based application to cope with the peaks and troughs of demand. You can control all of this through a web console, with no more than a credit card and a laptop. Silicon Valley, SoMa, Silicon Alley, Silicon Roundabout, Silicon Allee, Silicon Wadi, Silicon Forest, Silicon Welly, and the Silicon Bog (only one of those was made up, I think) are full to bursting with bright young things building exciting new products (and silly photo sharing sites) powered only by the cloud and expensive coffee.

3166391937_f273e4e212_zAnd then you have government, private, and commercial Archives, with an over-riding imperative to keep stuff for a very, very long time. These Archives clearly can (and do) use cloud computing in the same ways as everyone else. They use clouds to cost-effectively transform data from one format to another, they use clouds to stream large and popular media files to the public, and they use clouds in all sorts of other ways to make innumerable workflows and processes easier, cheaper, or more robust. For those use cases, even the biggest, grandest, and most important of archives is actually pretty much like any other user. Cloud’s as useful to them as it is to the rest of us, and that’s great.

Does it make sense, though, for Archives to entrust any of their long-term preservation role to the cloud? I’m not sure (yet), but The National Archives (TNA) here in the UK wants to find out. They’ve commissioned a study from a small consultancy, Charles Beagrie, and I’m subcontracted to provide a bit of cloud knowledge to the team.

Out of the box, you’d have to question the sense of an archive entrusting anything to the public cloud for purposes of long-term preservation. That’s not really what Amazon’s Simple Storage Service or Rackspace’s Cloud Files or any of the other cloud-based filestores are for. Their Service Level Agreements and their technical underpinnings are all about cost-effectively storing lots of stuff and losing as little as possible. If a file is lost or damaged, the service provider might pay out a few service credits, and/or the customer might restore from a backup, and everyone continues on their way. Archivists, we were reminded at one of the project’s focus groups, have this peculiar expectation that the systems they use to preserve their primary materials won’t lose anything at all. A couple of service credits don’t really help when you just lost, truncated, or changed a few words in the digital equivalent of the Magna Carta or the Domesday Book or the Book of Kells or the Declaration of Arbroath. And, just to be totally clear, losing a digital copy of the Declaration of Arbroath would be ok. The National Archives of Scotland still has the vellum (I presume their copy was written on vellum?) in a climate-controlled vault. They probably also have a CD or two of backups for the digital images. Things become a bit more serious when the content is ‘born digital,’ and the file you’re preserving is the thing itself and not just an image of some physical artefact.

Even with archival-ish services like Glacier, which Amazon says

is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% for an archive. The service redundantly stores data in multiple facilities and on multiple devices within each facility. To increase durability, Amazon Glacier synchronously stores your data across multiple facilities before returning SUCCESS on uploading archives. Unlike traditional systems that can require laborious data verification and manual repair, Glacier performs regular, systematic data integrity checks and is built to be automatically self-healing,

(my emphasis)

the big public cloud providers aren’t really in the business of supporting the extreme needs of an Archive. Archives demand a whole extra level of error checking, resilience, redundancy and integrity, and it would be cost-prohibitive for AWS and their competitors to do all that across their sprawling data centres when most customers are actually perfectly happy with “redundantly stores data in multiple facilities” and “automatically self-healing.”

Interestingly, Seagate sees value in offering a Glacier competitor capable of storing data “intact for decades” and offering access instantly rather than in a matter of hours as Glacier does. As it’s based in Utah I doubt that European government archives would touch it, but it will be interesting to see whether their North American cousins show any interest…

One thing, of course, that most public cloud providers are good at is offering a platform upon which others can build. Archivists, like others, have begun to layer rules, policies, procedures and processes on top of the bare-bones cloud infrastructure offerings, to build something a little more robust and dependable. Services like DuraCloud take AWS and Rackspace (currently only in their US data centres, but that could change), and add things like proactive error checking and even more backups to deliver something that an archivist might be prepared to trust.

There’s a use case here, and there are plenty of (mostly university) archives in the States putting DuraCloud and similar cloud-powered tools to work as part of their preservation strategy.

But I can’t help wondering if some great big enterprise data management solution, with multiply redundant disks, multiply redundant backups and a whole heap of watertight, ironclad, fault tolerant, and ridiculously over-specified policies might be a better (albeit eye-wateringly expensive) way to preserve the truly irreplaceable? Either that, or archives and archivists need to explicitly embrace a more pragmatic approach to what they’re attempting with these systems.

‘Design for failure’ is a core tenet of cloud-powered systems. What’s the archival equivalent? ‘Lose nothing, ever’ just won’t cut it.

Disclaimer: Charles Beagrie is a client. TNA is a client of theirs. This post is not part of the project. Any opinions expressed here are my own, a work in progress… and subject to change!

Image of The National Archives by Flickr user ‘electropod’

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database. He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

@CloudExpo Stories
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff hap...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + Elasti...
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, will outline key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals,...
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, will focus on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud pla...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
As Platform as a Service (PaaS) matures as a category, developers should have the ability to use the programming language of their choice to build applications and have access to a wide array of services. Bluemix is IBM's open cloud development platform that enables users to easily build cloud-based, creative mobile and web applications without having to spend large amounts of time and resources on configuring infrastructure and multiple software licenses. In this track, you will learn about the...
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named "Gold Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic network...
SimpleECM is the only platform to offer a powerful combination of enterprise content management (ECM) services, capture solutions, and third-party business services providing simplified integrations and workflow development for solution providers. SimpleECM is opening the market to businesses of all sizes by reinventing the delivery of ECM services. Our APIs make the development of ECM services simple with the use of familiar technologies for a frictionless integration directly into web applicat...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic...