Don’t live in fear of your cloud storage provider going under

The announcement last month that cloud storage provider Nirvanix was closing up shop set off a wave of hysteria in the IT world and sparked speculation about the viability of cloud storage as an option for businesses.

The fear is understandable given the value of business data. However, with proper contingency planning and a solid backup/disaster recovery plan, such a closure doesn’t have to be a big deal.

Buzzword Backlash

“This is not remarkable — it has happened before. Just to name a few, EMC, Sun, Iron Mountain, a lot of ‘big’ companies have shut down solutions — even cloud storage solutions- shuttered divisions, and ended the lifecycle of products with a huge install base,” says Nicos Vekiarides, co-founder and CEO of Natick, Mass.-based cloud storage provider TwinStrata.

“What’s different in this case is the quickness with which it happened, and I think there’s certainly a lot of hysteria surrounding this announcement simply because it involves the cloud,” Vekiarides says.

The scale of the shutdown is large; Nirvanix hosted around 40 petabytes of data, say 451 Research analysts Carl Brooks and Simon Robinson in a report released last month. According to partners and customers, Nirvanix announced it would be closing effective September 30, giving those customers approximately two weeks to move their data.

“That is a staggering amount of data to think about moving in less than two weeks over commercial ISP trunks, especially when thousands of users are going to be attempting it simultaneously,” the report says.

But most customers aren’t going to move their data from the now-defunct Nirvanix cloud back to on-premise storage, and might not use traditional “commercial ISP trunks” to do so, says Vekiarides.

Just like with traditional storage implementations, cloud consumers have — or at least should have — disaster recovery and backup plans in place to handle such an event, he says, whether that’s an off-site storage facility, a second cloud deployment to which backups are stored, or some combination of both.

“We have a lot of customers that were on Nirvanix, and what we see is no one’s data is trapped in that cloud,” Vekiarides says. “While the bandwidth on the premises may not be enough to move all the back on-premise, well, that’s something that often can’t be done even with non-cloud storage solutions,” he says.

“For us and for our customers, we built in adequate bandwidth from cloud to cloud, and we’ve been taking advantage of that with a lot of clients to move their data from Nirvanix to other clouds, including ours,” Vekiarides says.

Be Redundant: Backup, Backup, Backup

What can you do to make sure that a provider shutdown won’t affect your company’s data or your customers’ data? Backup, backup, backup, says Vekiarides. These capabilities already are built into storage solutions today, he says, with the capability to mirror data to backup solutions seamlessly, to keep multiple copies of data, and to ensure data integrity.

“It’s been a mantra for years — back up your data. Have a solid, tested, dependable backup and recovery plan. Make sure you have the bandwidth to quickly move your data, and perform regular migration assessments to make sure that if something like this happens again, that you’ll be able to handle it quickly,” he says.