The topic of cloud storage stirs debate in even the sanest of conversations. But, even the most anti-cloud naysayer will agree that the cloud is an excellent choice as a disaster recovery (DR) solution. Providers understand that their clients need security, redundancy and reliability. Cloud storage companies also know that there is a lot of cloud-based fear, and most offer a staged approach to moving to cloud storage, from archive to online backup to live storage.
Many providers sell their services as a "replace the tape" strategy for businesses. And, they make it very enticing to do so by comparing costs, hassles and reliability numbers. Cloud backup and storage are compelling when you put pencil to paper and see the numbers for yourself.
This list of 10 cloud storage providers will give you a sense of some of the key players and their options for cloud-based storage. The list is in no particular order.
1. CommVault Simpana
CommVault's Simpana is a scalable, unified platform that you can manage from a single console. Its Simpana solution delivers backup, recovery, archiving, replication, storage resource management and search capabilities. While CommVault doesn't offer a direct cloud-based backup solution, Simpana can connect to cloud-based storage to offload stale data, archives, and other rarely used data.
Cloud archival is also more efficient with Simpana because of its built-in deduplication services so you're not using valuable bandwidth storing duplicated files.
Nirvanix offers public cloud storage, private cloud storage and hybrid cloud storage to fit your individual business needs. The public cloud storage product, Nirvanix CloudComplete, provides the security, redundancy and reliability needed to ensure maximum protection for your data. Nirvanix accomplishes this by using diversely located data centers.
Nirvanix's public cloud offering ties in with your existing backup software and strategy and touts the following competitive advantages: usage-based pricing, elastic flexibility, multi-level security, unlimited file transfers, no CAPEX costs and no maintenance or refresh fees.
Zetta has created an on-demand, Storage-as-a-Service offering to provide offsite backup capability to enterprises. Zetta's model describes the typical scenario for business backup: sync and replication to online archive to promotion to primary data source. This stepwise procedure is how the typical business moves to cloud storage.
First, the business uses the Cloud as a secondary data source for redundant protection against failure or DR. Second, the business moves from a DR source to a live online backup (replacing local backups). Finally, when comfort levels increase to a point where the business can operate on cloud-based storage, the business moves it operations entirely to the cloud. Using Zetta's service, businesses can promote an online archive to live, primary source at any time.
4. Mezeo Cloud
Mezeo's services include archive, backup and server-attached cloud storage. This server-attached storage option is meant to replace or augment current storage for existing file servers. Mezeo's cloud storage options include:
- File server replacement - All files on cloud-based storage.
- Cloud-attached file server - Add tiered storage to existing file servers, moving some files to the cloud.
- On-premise cloud device or gateway - file relocation using CIFS, NFS, or iSCSI.
5. Egnyte Enterprise Local Cloud
Egnyte's cloud-based storage is similar to Dropbox but for enterprise-sized file volumes. You have the best of both file access world's: a local copy and a cloud-based synchronized copy. With Egnyte, you have a local copy of all of your files so that access is fast and available--even offline should your Internet connection go down or if you prefer to limit synchronization to a low-usage time period. If you've used Dropbox, you'll understand Egnyte's Enterprise Local Cloud service.
The Enterprise Local Cloud service is enabled on your network as a VMware virtual appliance.
6. ADrive Enterprise Cloud Storage
ADrive's solutions provide you with hot backups streamed over VPN connections. Your data transmits to and from their site via your choice of encryption protocols with on-demand scalability and optional mirroring to geographically diverse locations for greater safety.
Their solution highlights are: Secure VPN data transfer, redundant connectivity options, data mirroring, and multiple connectivity protocols: CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, FC, HTTP, FTP, and WebDAV.
StorSimple wants to make your transition to cloud-based storage simple and irresistible by offering multiple recovery points, elastic storage pools, automated application-level backup and recovery, a single management interface for all your storage tiers, and file-level recovery.
StorSimple also offers pre-configured, optimized volumes for CIFS, VMware libraries, SharePoint content, Exchange, databases and log files.
8. RISC Cloud
The RISC Cloud Backup Services are a bit different than your standard cloud-based storage service. What makes it different is that you can backup PCs, laptops, servers and complex networked environments with RISC Cloud.
RISC provides encrypted file transfer and automated backups.
9. Amazon S3
A discussion of cloud-based storage can't be complete without an entry, including Amazon's S3 service. Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) is a scalable, reliable, low-latency, and low-cost data storage solution for individuals and enterprises and everything in between. Amazon provides its customers with a simple web-based management console and APIs that enable developers to attach from a variety of applications and services.
Amazon is best known for its low cost and its multiple data center locations. You can use S3 to run your websites, operate your own e-commerce business, store dynamic data, or use as DR storage for your entire business.
Symantec's entry into cloud-based storage is Backup Exec.cloud. If you require security for your data, you may not find a more secure solution from the people who secure individuals and networks on a worldwide scale. You can backup your PCs and your servers to Symantec's cloud-based storage. You also get self-service data recovery with your account, which means users can restore their own data without administrator intervention.
Your data is stored for the life of your contract so that you never lose any valuable information.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.