In the Cloud or Up in Smoke? (Part 2 of 2)

Posted 10/08/2013 by Dan Iacono

Posted in

In part 1, we discussed the latest 'cloud bust' – the demise of the Nirvanix cloud solution and implications of the two-week warning on the industry and customers scurrying to find another cloud storage provider. We also talked about the three different goals that various enterprises might have when considering their data storage strategy – cost, risk, and quality of service ('QoS') – and how to pick the storage platform that best suits your environment in terms of cost management and better SLAs.

Now we want to explore aligning cloud storage requirements to business requirements, or rather, why misalignment of these two often occurs.

When Cloud Storage Consumption Doesn’t Meet Business Requirements

Misalignment typically occurs when an IT organization’s basic cloud storage services are consumed by data that does not match business requirements. There are several reasons why misalignment occurs within organizations:

  • No Defined Business Requirements. More often than not, we find business requirements are 'known, but undocumented' or 'tribal knowledge' within an organization. In order for an IT service to meet its business needs, IT must have documented requirements. In a facilitated workshop conducted by Commvault Consulting Services, we use best practices to quickly identify and define business requirements – in less than one day.
  • No Defined Service Catalog. IT service consumers must have a menu that clearly defines their IT options, which includes cost, risk and QoS. When mentioning service catalogs to our customers, we are frequently met with the following objections:
    • "Service catalogs take too long to create and provide little value"
    • "IT uses too many technical terms for a business consumer to understand"
    • "It's too difficult to maintain"
    • "We don't know how to start"

    The key to a good service catalog is providing the right amount information to the IT consumer to make the right business decision.

  • Lack of communication between internal groups. It is not uncommon to observe IT creating technical solutions and the business consumers demanding completely different services. This creates friction within the organization. IT must bring together business leaders from across various business units to bridge the communication gap between business and IT and garner sponsorship from all levels of leadership. It may be easier for a third party to mediate this discussion and Commvault Consulting Services facilitates a workshop with this specific focus in mind.
  • Risk is undervalued. Until the first big event happens, calculating risk is difficult and is usually undervalued. We observed this recently with Hurricane Sandy and many other DR events. Nirvanix was the first (and certainly will not be the last) major cloud storage provider to cease operations. Therefore, it is expected that many IT organizations will increase their value of risk when choosing to put their data in the cloud. We still believe, however, that cloud and cloud storage can have a rightful place in an IT organization service offering and customers should ensure their data placement and business risk are aligned.
  • Pressure to reduce costs. IT organizations are under constant pressure to reduce costs while meeting the increasing demands of the business units. In an effort to reduce costs, IT organizations are always investigating new ways to deliver existing services at a lower price point. Basic cloud storage is a market with many players, lots of competition, and aggressive price points. Nirvanix was ranked among the top players in the basic cloud storage market by IT analysts.

    For many IT organizations, the low price points of basic cloud storage can have significant impact on reducing their costs and meeting the insatiable demand for storage capacity. There are clear cost advantages for IT organizations to subscribe to basic cloud services; however, the reduced availability SLAs must be clearly explained to the organization’s internal customers and business consumers. Simply put, IT service misalignment is the gap between business needs and IT service offerings. Organizations with misalignment gaps are not realizing the full business value of IT services. How is your IT services aligned with your business?

If you don't have a data management strategy, we would encourage you to develop one. If you already have an existing data management strategy, this would be the time to revisit and if needed update it. As a best practice, a data management strategy should be reviewed and updated once a year. How do you approach data management in the cloud?