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    New Cloud Storage Meme – “Enterprise DropBox”

    April 14th, 2012

    In a number of recent presentations on cloud storage recently, I have started by asking the audience “how many of you use DropBox?” I have seen rooms where more than half of the hands go up. Of course, the next question I ask is “does your corporate IT department know about this?” – sheepish grins abound.

    DropBox has been responsible for for a significant fraction of the growth in the number of Amazon S3 objects – that’s where the files end up when you drop them into that icon on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. However, if that file is a corporate document, who is in charge of making sure the data and its storage meets corporate policies for protection, privacy, retention and security? Nobody.

    Thus there is now growing interest in bringing that data back in-house and on premise for the enterprise so that business policies for the data can be enforced. This trending meme has been termed “Enterprise Dropbox”. The basic idea is to offer the equivalent service and set of applications to allow corporate IT users to store their corporate documents where the IT department can manage them.

    Is this “Private Cloud”? Well, yes in that it uses capitalized corporate storage equipment. But it also sits “at the edge” of the corporate network so as to be accessible by employees wherever they happen to be. In reality, Enterprise DropBox needs to be part of an overall Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy to enable frictionless innovation and collaboration for employees.

    Who are likely to be the players in this space? Virtualization vendors such as Citrix (with its ShareFile acquisition) and VMware with its Project Octopus initiative look to be first movers in this space, along with start ups such as Oxygen Cloud. It’s interesting that major storage vendors have not picked up on this as yet.

    Digging into how this works, you find that every vendor has a storage cloud with an HTTP based object storage interface that is then exposed to the internet with secure protocols. Each interface is just slightly different enough that there is no interoperability. In addition, each vendor develops, maintains and distributes it own set of client “apps” for operating systems, smartphones and tablets. A key feature is integration of the authentication and authorization with the corporate LDAP directory both for security and to reduce administrative overhead. Support for quotas and department charge back is essential.

    Looking down the road, however, this proliferation of proprietary clients and interfaces is already causing headaches for the poor device user, who may have several of these apps on their devices (all maxed out to their “free” limit). The burden on vendors is the development cost of creating and maintaining all those applications on all those different devices and operating systems. We’ve seen this before, however, in the early days of the Windows ecosystem. You used to have to purchase a separate FTP client for early Windows installations. Want NFS? A separate client purchase and install. Of course, now all those standard protocol clients are built into operating systems everywhere. Nobody thinks twice about it.

    The same thing will eventual work its way out in the smart device category as well. But not until a standard protocol emerges that all the applications can use (such as FTP or NFS in the Windows case). The SNIA’s Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) is poised to meet this need as it’s adoption continues to accelerate. CDMI offers a RESTful HTTP object storage data path that is highly secure and has the features that corporate IT departments need in order to protect and secure data while meeting business policies. It enables each smart device to have a single embedded client to multiple clouds – both public and private. No more proliferation of little icons all going to separate clouds.

    What will drive this evolution? You – the corporate customer of these vendor offerings. You can ask the Enterprise DropBox vendors simply to “show me CDMI support in your roadmap”. Educate your employees about choosing smart devices that support the CDMI standard natively. Only then will the market forces compel the vendors to realize that there is no value in locking in their customers. Instead they can differentiate on the innovation and execution that separates them from their competitors. Adoption of a standard such as CDMI will actually accelerate the growth of the entire market as the existing friction between clouds gets ground down and smoothed out by virtue of this adoption.


    Validating CDMI Features – Metadata Search

    April 12th, 2012

    Here we go again with an announcement of a cloud offering that again validates an existing standardized feature of CDMI. The new Amazon CloudSearch offering lets you store structured metadata in the cloud and perform queries on the metadata. They missed an opportunity, however, to integrate this with their existing cloud object storage offering. After all, if you already have object storage, why not put the metadata with the data object instead of separating it out in a separate cloud?

    CDMI lets you put the user metadata directly into the storage object, where it is protected, backed up, archived and retained along with the actual data. CDMI’s rich query functions are then able to find the storage object based on the values of the metadata without talking to a separate cloud offering with a new, proprietary API.

    CDMI standardizes a Query Queue that allows the client to create a scope specification (equivalent to a WHERE clause) to find specific objects that match the criteria, and a results specification (equivalent to a SELECT clause) that determines the elements of the object that are returned for each match. Results are placed in a CDMI queue object and can be processed one at a time, or in bulk. This powerful feature allows any storage cloud that has a search feature to expose it in a standard manner for interoperability between clouds.

    An example of the metadata associated with a query queue is as follows:

    {
         "metadata" : {
              "cdmi_queue_type" : "cdmi_query_queue",
              "cdmi_scope_specification" : [
                   {
                        "domainURI" : "== /cdmi_domains/MyDomain/",
                        "parentURI" : "starts /MyMusic",
                        "metadata" : {
                             "artist" : "*Bono*"
                        }
                   }
              ],
              "cdmi_results_specification": {
                   "objectID" : "",
                   "metadata" : {
                        "title" : ""
                   }
              }
         }
    }

     

    When results are stored in a query queue, each enqueued value consists of a JSON object of MIME-type “application/json”. This JSON object contains the specified values requested in the cdmi_results_specification of the query queue metadata.

    An example of a query result JSON object is as follows:

    {
         "objectID" : "00007E7F0010EB9092B29F6CD6AD6824",
         "metadata" : {
              "title" : "Vertigo"
         }
    }

    Thus if you are using your storage cloud for storing music files, for example, all of the metadata for each mp3 object can be stored right along with the object, and CDMI’s powerful query mechanisms can be used to find the files you are interested in without invoking a separate search cloud with disassociated metadata,


    Validating CDMI features – Object Expiration

    December 28th, 2011

    Validating yet another feature of the CDMI standard (see previous post for an earlier one), Amazon announced their Object Expiration feature for S3. While not a new concept for storage interfaces, it is the first cloud implementation of this capability that I know of. The idea is simply to have the server side of the cloud do object deletion on your behalf automatically, once the lifecycle of that data has completed.

    As part of overall Data Lifecycle Management, object deletion is the most common terminal state for data. CDMI has standardized the interface for this capability in cloud storage with a comprehensive Retention and Hold Management feature (Chapter 17). The granularity of the standard CDMI feature is finer than that of the S3 feature in that it allows for retention and deletion on individual objects (although you could accomplish this in S3 with prefix = object name, it doesn’t scale using the header fields that Amazon uses). The S3 prefix mechanism can be used to scope the expiration policy down to individual “directories” (forward slash terminated parts of object names), and CDMI allows this also for the semantically equivalent CDMI sub-containers.

    Complying with Regulations

    Although the ability to delete objects when their lifecycle completes is useful, it is insufficient for complying with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, or for eDiscovery needs during litigation. For most enterprises, they need to show that the data has not been modified during its lifecycle. In addition, if a subpoena is issued for the data – you DO NOT want the object deleted, even if it’s retention period has expired – this can cost you millions of dollars in a pending court case…

    The CDMI standard anticipates that storage clouds will want to offer a more robust, full featured retention and hold management for corporate data, and that a standard means of achieving it will be needed. Take a quick look at Chapter 17 (it’s quite compact while being comprehensive) and investigate using the standard way to achieve this function. If you are a cloud vendor trying to emulate the S3 interface, good luck to you – Amazon will continue to expand the definition of what “S3″ means (like adding this feature), forcing you to constantly modify your cloud’s storage interface to keep up (as well as requiring you to reverse engineer any bugs that exist).


    Validating CDMI features – Server Side Encryption

    October 5th, 2011

    One of the features of many storage systems and even disk drives is the ability to encrypt the data at rest. This protects against a specific threat – the disk drive going out the back door for replacement or repair. So it was only a matter of time before we would see this important feature start to be offered for Cloud Storage as well. Well, today Amazon announced their Server Side Encryption capability for their S3 cloud offering. This feature was anticipated by the CDMI standard interface when it was finalized as a standard back in April 2010.

    Standard Server Side Encryption

    So, how does CDMI standardize this feature? Well, as usual, it starts with finding out if the cloud actually supports the feature and what choices are available. In CDMI, this is done through the capabilities resource – a kind of catalog or discovery mechanism. By fetching the capabilities resource for objects, containers, domain or queues, you can tell whether server side encryption of data at rest if available from the cloud offering (yes this is granular for a reason). The actual capability name is: cdmi_encryption (see section 12.1.3). This indicates that the cloud can do encryption for the data at rest, but also indicates what algorithms are available to do this encryption. The algorithms are expressed in the form of: ALGORITHM_MODE_KEYLENGTH, where:

    “ALGORITHM” is the encryption algorithm (e.g., “AES” or “3DES”).

    “MODE” is the mode of operation (e.g.,”XTS”, “CBC”, or “CTR”).

    “KEYLENGTH” is the key size (e.g.,”128″,”192″, “256″).

    So the cloud can offer the user several different algorithms of different strengths and types, or if it only offers a single algorithm (such as the Amazon offering), the cloud storage client can at least understand what that algorithm is.

    So how does the user tell the cloud that she wants her data encrypted? Amazon does this with a proprietary header of course, but CDMI does it with standard Data System Metadata that can be placed on any object, container of objects, queue or domain. This metadata is called cdmi_encryption (see section 16.4), and contains merely a string with a value chosen from the list of available algorithms in the corresponding capability. There is also a cdmi_encryption_provided metadata value to tell the client whether their data is being encrypted or not by the cloud.

    Lastly, there is a system-wide capability called cdmi_security_encryption (section 12.1.1) that tells the user whether the cloud does server side encryption at all.

    Server side encryption is an important capability for cloud storage offerings to provide, which is why CDMI standardized this in advance of having cloud offerings available. We expect more clouds to offer this in the future, and customers to soon realize that – without CDMI implementations, these offerings are locking them in and causing a high cost of exiting that vendor.


    Plan to Attend Cloud Burst and SDC

    August 25th, 2011

    Cloud Storage Developers will be Converging on Santa Clara in September for the Storage Developer Conference and the Cloud Burst Event

    Cloud Burst Event

    There are a multitude of events dedicated to cloud computing, but where can you go to find out specifically about cloud storage? The 2011 SNIA Cloud Burst Summit educates and offers insight into this fast-growing market segment. Come hear from industry luminaries, see live demonstrations, and talk to technology vendors about how to get started with cloud storage.

    The audience for the SNIA Cloud Burst Summit is IT storage professionals and related colleagues who are looking to cloud storage as a solution for their IT environments. The day’s agenda will be packed with presentations from cloud industry luminaries, the latest cloud development panel discussions, a focus on cloud backup, and a cocktail networking opportunity in the evening.

    Check out the Agenda and Register Today…

     

    Storage Developer Conference

    The SNIA Storage Developer Conference is the premier event for developers of cloud storage, filesystems and storage technologies. The year there is a full cloud track on the Agenda, as well as some great speakers. Some examples include:

    Programming the Cloud

    CDMI for Cloud IPC

    David Slik
    Technical Director,
    Object Storage
    NetApp

    Open Source Droplet Library with CDMI Support

    Giorgio Regni
    CTO,
    Scality

    CDMI Federations, Year 2

    David Slik
    Technical Director,
    Object Storage,
    NetApp

    CDMI Retention Improvements

    Priya Nc
    Principal Software Engineer,
    EMC Data Storage Systems

    CDMI Conformance and Performance Testing

    David Slik
    Technical Director,
    Object Storage,
    NetApp

    Use of Storage Security in the Cloud

    David Dodgson
    Software Engineer,
    Unisys

    Authenticating Cloud Storage with Distributed Keys

    Jason Resch
    Senior Software Engineer,
    Cleversafe

    Resilience at Scale in the Distributed Storage Cloud

    Alma Riska
    Consultant Software Engineer,
    EMC

    Changing Requirements for Distributed File Systems in Cloud Storage

    Wesley Leggette
    Cleversafe, Inc

    Best Practices in Designing Cloud Storage Based Archival Solution

    Sreenidhi Iyangar
    Senior Technical Lead,
    EMC

    Tape’s Role in the Cloud

    Chris Marsh
    Market Development Manager,
    Spectra Logic


    CSI Quarterly Update Q3 2011

    July 5th, 2011

    A Message from
    SNIA Links:

    Follow SNIA:
    Linkedin
    Twitter
    Facebook

    SNIA Blogs:

    Cloud Storage Initiative

    Upcoming Activities

    Get Involved Now!

    A limited number of these activities are open to all, or Join SNIA and the CSI to participate in any of these activities

    July Cloud Plugfest

    The purpose of the Cloud Plugfest is for vendors to bring their implementations of CDMI and OCCI to test, identify, and fix bugs in a collaborative setting with the goal of providing a forum in which companies can develop interoperable products.

    The Cloud Plugfest starts on Tuesday July 12 and runs thru Thursday July 14, 2011 at the SNIA Technology Center in Colorado Springs, CO.  The SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) is underwriting the costs of the event, therefore there is no participation fee.

    More Information

    SNIA Cloud Burst Event

    There are a multitude of events dedicated to cloud computing, but where can you go to find out specifically about cloud storage? The 2011 SNIA Cloud Burst Summit educates and offers insight into this fast–growing market segment. Come hear from industry luminaries, see live demonstrations, and talk to technology vendors about how to get started with cloud storage.

    More information

    Cloud Lab Plugfest at SDC

    Plugfests have always been an important part of the Storage Developers Conference and this year will be the first Cloud Lab Plugfest event held over multiple days to test the interoperability of CDMI, OVF and OCCI implementations.

    To get involved, please contact: arnold@snia.org

    Cloud Pavilion at SNW

    Every SNW, one of highlights is the Cloud Pavilion where attendees can see public and private cloud offerings and discuss solutions. Space is limited, so get involved early to ensure your spot.

    To get involved, please contact: lisa.mercurio@snia.org


    Get your hands on a Storage Cloud

    May 18th, 2011

    Register-Banner2.jpg

    Building your own standards-based private storage cloud.

    Tuesday May24th, 1-5pm

    Omni Interlocken Hotel,

    Broomfield, CO

    This year at Gluecon SNIA will be conducting a Hands on Lab workshop for Developers,

    This session will take you deeper into cloud storage than you likely have ever been. First we will explore the standard cloud storage interface called CDMI (Cloud Data Management Interface), including some of the rationale and design tradeoffs in its creation.

    Learn about how to use the RESTful interface to move data into and out of a storage cloud using a common interface. Learn how CDMI enables data portability between clouds. Dig deep into features such as Data System Metadata (how you order services from the cloud), cloud-side operations, queues, query and more.

    Then stick around as we load an open source Java implementation of CDMI onto your laptop to create your own private cloud. Explore the workings of the JAX-RS standard used in this implementation and the storage code working behind the scenes. Advanced users can even implement their own cloud storage features and expose them through the standard interface.


    CDMI Overview

    May 1st, 2011

     

    The window below uses a presentation tool called Prezi. Just use the arrow keys to step back and forth through the presentation or click the play button. You can also navigate the graph yourself.

     


    CDMI breaks out at SNW Spring

    April 4th, 2011
    CDMI announcements at SNW Spring

    The SNIA co-sponsors the Storage Networking World (SNW) conference twice a year. At the Spring 2011 SNW show, the CDMI specification was updated to version 1.0.1h (online at http://cdmi.sniacloud.com) and the first commercial implementation of CDMI was announced.

    The SNIA also put out a press release on the latest developments and progress that CDMI has made, including some new research results:

    Cloud Storage Standard
    Readies for Widespread Adoption

    SNIA is establishing relationships with National and
    International Standards Groups; Recent Market Research Reveals
    CDMI will be Mainstream in RFPs

    Santa Clara, Calif. (April 4th, 2011) — The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI), today announced that the Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI), released as an official SNIA Architecture one year ago, continues to make significant steps toward broad acceptance.

    “A critical part of delivering an industry wide standard is building a strong ecosystem of partners, alliances and supporting programs,” said David Slik, Co–Chair of SNIA Cloud Storage Technical Work Group. “As demonstrated by initiating relationships with nationally and internationally recognized standards bodies and our forthcoming CDMI Plugfest, we are making strong progress around delivering not only a strong standard, but a widely accepted and valued one.”

    SNIA’s CDMI standard has been refined over the past year and is now being readied for further de jure standardization. The SNIA has joined the DAPS38 Technical Committee (which is responsible for Cloud Computing, among other technology standards) of INCITS – the primary U.S. focus of standardization in the field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). The SNIA has also requested a Category A Liaison relationship with the ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC38 subcommittee for Distributed Application Platforms and Services (DAPS).

    CDMI has been citied in numerous cloud roadmaps and studies, including those from ITU–T (International Telecommunication Union), TeleManagement Forum, SIENA (the European Standards and Interoperability for eInfrastructure Implementation Initiative), and NIST (the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology). The maturing CDMI Reference Implementation has been through initial testing of the NIST SAJACC (Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart Adoption of Cloud Computing) use cases..

    SNIA CSI 2011 sponsored activities include Plugfests , with the first taking place April 19–21, 2011 at the SNIA Technology Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Cloud Plugfest allows vendors to bring their implementations of CDMI and the Open Grid Forum’s Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI) to test, identify, and fix bugs in a collaborative setting with the goal of providing a forum in which companies can develop interoperable products. For additional details on participating in the Cloud Plugfest, please visit www.snia.org/cloud/cloudplugfest/ .

    SNIA CSI will repeat its “SNIA Cloud Burst Summit” in Santa Clara, California, on September 22, 2011 as an extended program with the SNIA Storage Developer Conference (SDC). In 2010, over 100 attendees participated in the Cloud Burst Summit, joining other cloud strategists and deployment professionals in this highly successful inaugural program that featured noted industry luminary Geoffrey Moore as the keynote speaker on the topic of clouds and IT transformation.

    SNIA CSI has also partnered with Storage Strategies NOW to help bring to market research that will help inform the industry of the key insights around cloud storage. This information, which can be found in the IT Professionals Cloud Adoption Survey released today, will provide a valuable service to help users, vendors and the industry at–large track how adoption and use of cloud technologies should be considered. To learn more, visit www.ssg–now.com.

    Deni Connor, principal analyst, Storage Strategies NOW added, “Our findings include that Email (66%) is the primary application for cloud storage, followed by backup (59%) and front office applications (45%). Additionally, 53% say that SNIA’s CDMI will be part of cloud storage RFPs/proposals; and 30% of respondents say SNIA’s CDMI is very important for public/hybrid cloud standard”.

    Deni Connor, principal analyst, Storage Strategies NOW added, “Our findings include that Email (66%) is the primary application for cloud storage, followed by backup (59%) and front office applications (45%). Additionally, 53% say that SNIA’s CDMI will be part of cloud storage RFPs/proposals; and 30% of respondents say SNIA’s CDMI is very important for public/hybrid cloud standard”.

    To learn more about SNIA and CSI stop by the SNIA CSI Cloud Pavilion on Tuesday and Wednesday during SNW Expo Hall hours.

    About the SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative
    The SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) fosters the growth and success of the market for cloud storage for vendors, service providers, and users. Members of the CSI work together to advance the adoption of the SNIA Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) standard, educate the IT communities about cloud storage, perform market outreach that highlights the virtues of cloud storage, and collaborate with other industry associations on cloud storage technical work. CSI member companies represent a variety of segments in the IT industry and include Actifio, Asigra, Broadcom, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cleversafe, CoreVault, Desktone, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM, Iron Mountain, LSI Corporation, Mezeo, NetApp, Novell, Oracle, Scality, Sepaton, SpectraLogic, StorSimple, SwiftTest, Terasky, Terremark, and Xiotech. For more information on SNIA’s Cloud Storage activities, visit snia.org/cloud and get involved in the conversation at twitter.com/SNIACloud or http://groups.google.com/group/snia-cloud.

    About SNIA
    The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is a not–for–profit global organization, made up of some 400 member companies spanning virtually the entire storage industry. SNIA’s mission is to lead the storage industry worldwide in developing and promoting standards, technologies, and educational services to empower organizations in the management of information. To this end, the SNIA is uniquely committed to delivering standards, education, and services that will propel open storage networking solutions into the broader market. For additional information, visit the SNIA web site at www.snia.org.


    Join the Cloud Storage Movement at SNIA’s Winter Symposium 2011

    January 6th, 2011

    Every year the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has a gathering of their members in San Jose to coordinate the work of the various Technical Work Groups, Forums and Initiatives. This year the Symposium will take place January 24th – 27th, 2011 at the Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, CA. SNIA opens this Symposium to non-SNIA members who are evaluating membership, so feel free to attend. Please Register for the Symposium if you plan to be there in person.

    SNIA Cloud Events

    The Cloud Storage Technical Work Group (TWG) kicks off a multi-day face to face session starting at 1:00pm PT on Monday. We will be discussing the submission of CDMI for international standardization and continuing to discuss the scope of the next minor release (1.1) of CDMI. Topics include Federation and NoSQL among others. Bring your own ideas for how to improve CDMI. The full agenda has been posted publicly.

    On Wednesday, the Cloud Storage Initiative will give an overview of their activities at a breakfast session starting at 8:30am. Then at noon on Wednesday, be sure and join us for the 2011 Activities Kickoff presentation in the Grande Ballroom. We will be showcasing all of the upcoming activities that you will want to be involved with over the next year. This session will be live streamed if you cannot make it in person. Regardless of whether you will be there in person or remote, please register for this update event (in addition to the Symposium registration above). More information.

    Wednesday afternoon is the meeting of the Cloud Storage Initiative from 1-5pm (also in the Grande Ballroom). Be sure and join us and help plan the activities for the upcoming year.

    Lastly, on Wednesday night there will be a Birds of Feather (BOF) session on a new group that is forming for the Archive and Preservation in the Cloud.

    Whereas with Cloud Backup, the cloud is simply a repository of backup data, with Cloud Archive and Preservation, the Cloud is where the active processes occur that ensure long term retention, preservation and viability of data.
    CDMI is uniquely designed to accommodate these needs with the Data System Metadata that it standardizes.
    Cloud providers see the ability to offer more than just a best effort storage area with the promise of being the trusted steward of information for the long term.
    Additional services such as eDiscovery and automatic format conversion can easily be offloaded to the cloud reducing costs.

    Please join us Wednesday evening from 5:30pm – 7:00pm in the Grande Ballroom for a Birds of Feather session to kick off the formation of the CSI Archive/Preservation Special Interest Group (SIG). Light refreshments will be provided. If you would like to participate remotely, please use the following call in information:
    Toll Free: 866-244-8528
    International:+1-719-457-0816
    Passcode: 510843#
    Webex: http://snia.webex.com, Meeting Name: Archive and Preservation SIG
    Meeting Password: cloud2011