One of the first data backup software companies to sign on as a participant, CA Inc., said it plans to offer customers this option, but doesn't expect a majority to dive fully into cloud storage yet.
The i365 program is opening up integration that the company did with Microsoft's Data Protection Manager (DPM) to more partners with a standardized set of application programming interfaces (APIs).
According to i365 vice president of product operations George Hoenig, the APIs include file-related put/get operations through the REST protocol; metadata operations that allow for policy-based management of objects; business services that can request usage data and support chargeback billing; and a service connector that allows data deduplication, encryption and bandwidth throttling operations across a wide-area network.
"We operate 10 data centers around the world," Hoenig said. "We can now allow ISV partners to take advantage of those data centers rather than building them out themselves."
CA and archiving vendor C2C Inc. are the first partners to be announced as participating in the new plan.
CA's early adoption of the i365 APIs is somewhat surprising given statements CA senior vice president of engineering Don Kleinschnitz made last summer advising caution with cloud storage. But Kleinschnitz said this week that participation in the EVault program doesn't necessarily mean CA is changing its tune about storage in the cloud.
Last summer, Kleinschnitz predicted the journey to cloud backup for its customers would begin slowly with vaulting offsite virtual tapes for disaster recovery, and take years to progress to applications like data archiving and other forms of backup. Now, CA is working with partners including Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and Microsoft Corp.'s Azure as well as i365, to provide "conduits" to cloud storage from its Recovery Management backup and replication software.
"It may feel a little bit accelerated [from the earlier predicted time frame], but we want to jump in before a disproportionate amount of customers do the same," Kleinschnitz said.
Kleinschnitz said CA has not yet finalized the integration with i365's cloud. It has a new product in beta called Disk to Disk that includes updated snapshot technology. One of the new features coming includes infinite incrementals, known elsewhere as space-efficient snapshots, which could be useful in alleviating performance and bandwidth concerns with cloud storage.
However, Kleinschnitz admitted, the exact nature of the integration between Recovery Management and i365's APIs has not been decided yet. "We're still in the process of figuring out the best way to integrate our software with it, and doing the same thing with Amazon and others," he said.
Meanwhile, Kleinschnitz continues to be bearish on cloud. "You can get a terabyte of local disk for under a hundred dollars," he said. "It's still very competitive [with the economics of cloud]. Our stance is that [the cloud] is a new form of networked disk, which has to be worked into the backup infrastructure."
Recovery Management customer Joe Whipple, network administrator of the Gahanna, Ohio-based KEMBA Financial Credit Union, said he shares Kleinschnitz's outlook on cloud storage adoption, particularly in the security-conscious financial services industry.
"Auditors would have a field day with us if we say, 'oh, we don't control the data security, it's out of our hands,'" Whipple said. Currently the company leases private communication lines to replicate data with CA's XOsoft software (part of the Recovery Management suite) for offsite disaster recovery at a secondary site it owns. Even for secondary copies of data, Whipple said, "the only way I'd consider [cloud storage] is if there was not only encryption but a guarantee that key sizes were large enough to ensure there isn't a reasonable ability to crack them."
Whipple's security concerns are heightened given the industry his company is in, but he's not alone among enterprise IT pros concerned about cloud storage security and other barriers to cloud storage adoption. You can read more about the hurdles cloud storage is facing in part four of our recent feature series, Understanding Cloud Storage.