Cloud Storage: How Can Enterprises Build Secure Private Clouds?
Exclusive Q&A with Sajai Krishnan, CEO of ParaScale
By: Jeremy Geelan
Feb. 27, 2009 09:40 AM
"Cloud computing is here to stay as a major IT wave that will take its place in the data center alongside mainframes, client-server and 3-tier web, says Sajai Krishnan, CEO of ParaScale, in this Exclusive Q&A with SYS-CON's Cloud Computing Journal.
Cloud Computing Journal: David Linthicum, the industry analyst and commentator sees Cloud Computing as being divisible into ten distinct patterns:
Do you think it is just coincidence that he lists Cloud Storage first? Or does Cloud Storage undergird the entire stack?
Sajai Krishnan: It is no coincidence that storage is listed first. With any system, storage is the persistent foundation for which the data starts and finishes. Cloud storage is no exception and can even introduce unique challenges when compared to cloud computing. Take the classic use case of cloud computing:
My company needs to spin up 2000 servers in one day to deal with unforeseen demand or 20 servers at the close of each quarter. Two days later I spin them down when the demand passed. Cloud computing saves the day.
Given the need for an organization to save everything, storage growth tends to be steady and relentless. Shrinking your cloud storage footprint after a demand event is more difficult and less common (outside of special situations like simulations, data mining, scratch storage situations, etc.
Cloud Computing Journal: Are there problems associated with Amazon and Google's cloud computing concepts - to take tow leaders in the space?
Security: Shared infrastructure scares many enterprise customers. How do they know their data is safe or even in the specified location? There have been numerous articles published about this issue so I'm not going to dive into the details but the concern is real. Combined with privacy concerns, this issue will be something that will continue to dog public cloud services.
Cloud lock-in: Each public cloud vendor has created a unique interface or API for using their offering. A user must program to that specification. If the user wants to change providers, they must reprogram to a different specification and pay double bandwidth charges for moving data. This puts the onus of change on the customer and enables cloud lock-in for the vendors.
Cloud Computing Journal: How does ParaScale's approach circumvent those problems?
SK: ParaScale addresses these issues by enabling the enterprise to build a private cloud and write files using standard protocols. We do not require a custom language to "speak ParaScale", instead we support industry standards like NFS, FTP, and HTTP that are well understood and widely deployed (in addition to new protocols like WebDAV).
Cloud Computing Journal: What are the main new security issues that IT needs to address when storing data in the Cloud?
SK: Control of data is the main new security issue. Security is a broad subject but when considering public clouds data control is new and should be considered. There are plenty of unanswered questions about data control and reporting responsibilities. If a public cloud service provider is subpoenaed by the government it could well be that your data is vacuumed up, even though your company is not being specifically subpoenaed.
SK: In general, both public and private provisioning decisions come down to capacity and quality. Public clouds offer one model for provisioning storage. Private clouds have the ability to provide several options such as thin provisioning, fixed provisioning or a combination of those two.
Cloud Computing Journal: So companies actually can choose themselves whether to introduce cloud storage inside or outside the corporate firewall?
Cloud Computing Journal: How about cost? Do you agree with those who contend that the lowest cost per gigabyte or terabyte wins?
SK: No. Cost is more than a purchase price. If you sell something for a penny a TB but it takes 15 guys to manage it, it's a bogus solution. If the user has to re-write applications and break security practices to save money, it will not fly. Cloud drives new economics that save the enterprise money from both a CAPEX and OPEX standpoint. Entry prices are lower due to commodity hardware and standard protocols. OPEX is saved via automation and policy based management, removing the need for multiple administrators per petabyte.
Cloud Computing Journal: Does ParaScale pricing conform to the Cloud Computing norm of "pay-only-for-what-you-eat"?
SK: Yes. Even better, with ParaScale you can provision virtual file systems larger than your physical capacity, enabling your eyes to be bigger than your stomach. As files are written to the cloud, the administrator can add capacity just in time, leveraging newer hardware at a lower cost and larger capacity. And acquiring the standard Linux servers is really easy versus having to wait for the traditional specialty storage appliances.
Cloud Computing Journal: And scalability, presumably, is all taken care of?
SK: Others talk of unlimited scalability but everything has limits. No system is "infinitely scalable" and claims as such are bogus. ParaScale is designed to scale to hundreds of nodes and multiple petabytes. For customers who want to go bigger than that we recommend a few clouds connected logically with a single global namespace. It's not an architecture limitation; instead it is a practicality of networking capabilities and testability.
Cloud Computing Journal: Aside from storage, is there any other aspect of the Cloud Services stack that ParaScale has identified as having growth potential for the company?
SK: ParaScale is focused on cloud storage. Our roadmap is filled with enhancements that will enable new management paradigms, simplify application integration and continue to drive economies of scale.
Cloud Computing Journal: What's the risk of Cloud-* becoming just another buzz phrase used in the attempt to get organizations to "sign a check"?
SK: In this economy you need more than a buzz phrase to get a check cut. It's true that every vendor is jumping on the cloud bandwagon and trying to mould the definition to fit their offering, ParaScale included. But customers will look for offerings that solve their challenges regardless of the tag applied.
The cloud tag may get vendors in the door, but without the architecture to back up the claim, customers will move on. With any new hyped technology there is burst of marketing "me-too". Cloud is no different and as with new areas there will be a shake-out. But beyond that, it is our view that cloud computing is here to stay as a major IT wave that will take its place in the data center alongside mainframes, client-server and 3-tier web.
SK: Cloud computing is in its infancy and the protocols and implementations are not ubiquitous (yet). It's a bit like an American running around the UK trying to find a 110V electrical plug. The answer is always, you need an adapter. When a standard emerges and any application can talk to any cloud the promise will be delivered.
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