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August 23, 2010

Putting Cloud Storage to the Test

Nicole Hemsoth

Security and general performance have been at the heart of questions surrounding the use of cloud storage for small and large-scale enterprises alike. Despite the wealth of benchmarking information available, however, there is still some degree of confusion about choosing and using cloud storage vendors. While Amazon’s S3 appears to be one of the more frequently-used cloud storage options, there are several new vendors appearing in the space, all promising security and top performance, which makes muddling through the marketing more difficult and narrowing a list down to a crucial few more difficult.

Network World has recently been the next to step up to the challenge of evaluating cloud storage vendors and performance in addition to hosting a series to put cloud computing to the test in key areas. It has most recently ended its analysis of cloud storage offerings, including Amazon’s S3, Nasuni Cloud Storage, Nirvanix’s Storage Delivery Network, Cloud Files from Rackspace and Egnyte’s On Demand File Server.

The overall conclusions about cloud storage were based on practical tests (accessing the site using the company’s APIs if they were present) involving the movement of data from VMs at 100Mbps or from their lab which is connected on standard commodity broadband internet. Those conducting the test reported that they “pounded each site with a variety of file sizes ranging from 500KB to 1GB” and that they tested both during day and night to determine if congestion on the internet would have an effect on cloud storage performance. This secondary congestion-related experiment yielded the result that congestion did play a role and that “download speeds were considerably slower than upload speeds for all the vendors tested.”

In general, the authors also found that cloud storage does live up to the hype in two critical areas, claiming that “cloud storage can be fast and the pay-as-you-go model can be a real cost saver.” They also stated that they found that “security could be an issue for enterprise shops as the formulas for trying to predict overall costs can be complex.”

Where cloud storage still fails, however, is in the security arena, at least in the view of the authors, who noted that although security basics were in place, more advanced features that would make those with mission-critical needs more inclined to store their data in the cloud are still missing.

Full story at Network World

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