Global Analyst Insights by Rene Buest

Nirvanix. A living hell. Why multi-cloud matters.

By on October 11, 2013 in Analysis

One or two will certainly have heard of it. Nirvanix has oneself transported to the afterlife. The enterprise cloud storage service, which had a wide cooperation with IBM, on September 16, 2013 suddenly announced its closure and initially granted its existing customers a period of two weeks to migrate their data. The period has been extended to October 15, 2013 as customers need more time for migration. As a Nirvanix customer reported, it has stored 20 petabytes of data.

The end of Nirvanix

Out of nowhere enterprise cloud storage provider Nirvanix announced its end on September 16, 2013. To date its not declared how it happened. Rumor has it that a further round financing failed. Other reasons are seemingly on the faulty management. Thus, the company had five CEOs since 2008 until today. One should also not forget the strong competition in the cloud storage environment. Firstly, in recent years, many vendors have tried their luck. On the other hand the two top dogs Amazon Web Services with Amazon S3, and Microsoft with Azure Storage reduce the prices of their services in regular cycles, which are also enterprise-ready. Even to be named as one of the top cloud storage service provider by Gartner couldn’t help Nirvanix.

Particularly controversial is the fact that in 2011, Nirvanix has completed a five-year contract with IBM to expand IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise storage services with cloud-based storage. As IBM has announced, stored data on Nirvanix will be migrated to the IBM SoftLayer object storage. As an IBM customer, I would still ask carefully about my stored data.

Multi-Cloud: Spread your eggs over multiple nests

First, a salute to the venture capital community. If it’s true that Nirvanix had to stop the service due to a failed round financing, then we see what responsibility is in their hands. Say no more.

How to deal with such a horror scenario like Nirvanix as cloud user? Well, as you can see a good customer base and partnerships with global players seems to be no guarantee that a service survived long term. Even Google currently plays its cloud strategy on the back of its customers and makes no binding commitment over the long-term consist of its services on the Google Cloud Platform, such as the Google Compute Engine (GCE). On the contrary, it is assumed that the GCE will not survive as long as other well-known Google services.

Backup and Multi-Cloud

Even if the cloud storage provider has to ensure the availability of the data, as a customer you have a duty of care and must be informed about the state of your data and – even in the cloud – take care of redundancy and backup. Meanwhile functions in the most popular cloud storage services are integrated to make seamless backups of the data and create multiple copies.

Although we are in the era of cloud, yet still applies: Backup! You should therefore ensure that a constantly checked(!) and a reliable backup and recovery plan exist. Furthermore, sufficient bandwidth must be available to move the data as soon as possible. This should also be checked at regular intervals using a migration audit to act quickly in the case of all cases.

To just move 20 petabytes of data is no easy task. Therefore you have to think about other approaches. Multi-cloud is a concept which is gaining more and more importance in the future. At it data and applications are distributed (in parallel) across multiple cloud platforms and providers. On this my analyst colleagues and friends Paul Miller and Ben Kepes already had discussed during their mapping session at the GigaOM Structure in San Francisco. Paul subsequently had written an interesting sector roadmap report on multi-cloud management.

Even next to Scalr, CliQr, RightScale and Enstratius already exist some management platforms for multi-cloud, we still find ourselves in a very early stage in terms of use. schnee von morgen webTV by Nikolai Longolius for example, is primarily on the Amazon Web Services and has developed a native web application 1:1 for the Google App Engine as a fallback scenario. This is not a multi-cloud approach, but shows its importance to achieve less effort for a provider-cross high availability and scalability. As Paul’s Sector Roadmap shows, it is in particular the compatibility of the APIs that must be attributed a great importance. In the future companies can no longer rely on a single provider, but distribute their data and applications across multiple providers to drive a best-of-breed strategy and to specifically spread the risk.

This should also be taken into consideration when simply store “only” data in the cloud. The golden nest is the sum of a plurality of distributed.

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About the Author

About the Author: Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies. Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as Silicon.de and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of CloudUser.de and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn. .

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