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'Going Spatial' is my personal blog, the views on this site are entirely my own and should in no way be attributed to anyone else or as the opinion of any organisation.

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Public Cloud Provider going bust...so the sky must be falling right?

Run Forrest, run!
Recently, a large public cloud storage provider, Nirvanix, informed customers that they were going out of business and that anyone with data in the Nirvanix public cloud, should pull it down as soon as possible. Am sure this would have sent massive shock waves around the cloud computing community; both users and suppliers.
There's no word of the impending doom on the website....

While I have no worries about the biggest players in the field (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google to name three) - I think Nirvanix will be the first of a few mid-range suppliers who will struggle to make it long-term.

Now, this makes it an interesting predicament: while most people at my company (and my peers) have embraced the cloud (public/private/hybrid) there's definitely a small but vocal minority who are now crowing 'I told you so'. Reading between the lines from the various press releases, it looks like there's a few Nirvanix customers who kept all their data with the supplier. More worryingly, there are other customers who are using Nirvanix resources, without even knowing it as they might be contracted through a Nirvanix Managed Service Provider. Either way, the situation is not looking too rosey for them at the moment.

One of our disaster recovery scenarios involves AWS going offline (an EMP strike? a malicious insider-led hack of the DNS servers? a slow-burning virus/malware corrupting the data?) or AWS going out of business. The likelihood of this scenario coming to pass for AWS is low, but then again, am sure Nirvanix customers thought of the same thing.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and the view from the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windscreen (took this off Warren Buffet) but I hope this doesn't take the wind out of the cloud-computing sails. For all our cloud services, we have our data in at least two places. One of them is not with AWS and we're seriously considering a third option of mirroring our data onto either Azure or Rackspace for redundancy. In fact, we're now starting to regard each cloud provider as a 'commodity' and this relevation pulls us neatly into the orbit of multi-cloud management solution providers.

Hmmm which cloud shall I use today?
In my view, what has happened with Nirvanix is an exception rather than the rule. However, it is interesting that a a fair number of businesses do not want to work with the bigger cloud providers citing reasons such as 'too complicated', 'not flexible enough' and the customer requiring very bespoke arrangements, for example complying with EU Safe Harbour regulations.

I wonder what happened with Nirvanix? I know that the main cloud providers have been engaging in a price war that is making some providers very attractive options for those looking for alternatives. It looks like Nirvanix ran out of cash. I think the price will continue to drop which is great for consumers but this could lead to the last man standing syndrome with only the biggest providers remaining. Am sure this would fall foul of one competition commission in one region or another! The mid-range cloud providers offer some very niche, very cool options that the larger providers may not have in their repertoire. For the sake of variety I hope the mid-range providers survive and thrive. For customers; best to spread your risk and use more than one cloud provider and include your own on-premise resources. It might mean more spend but it is the cost of doing business; consider it an insurance policy. For me? Am going to start a new backup job right now and migrate some of the crucial business data off to another provider.....