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Will Displaced Nirvanix Customers Seek Refuge with Microsoft?

When Nirvanix last week abruptly informed customers they have weeks to find a new cloud storage provider because it was shutting down its operations, it left more than 1,000 enterprises scrambling to save their data.  Many are likely to turn to Amazon Web Services, which has the most mature and advanced cloud infrastructure, but Microsoft will also likely become a beneficiary of Nirvanix's demise.

Initially Nirvanix told customers last Monday they had two weeks to find a new home for their data but the company later in the week extended the deadline to Oct. 15. Still for those with terabytes or even petabytes of data stored in Nirvanix datacenters, moving all of that data in less than a month is a tall order. Further adding to the difficulty is the fact that Nirvanix doesn't have the most robust network infrastructure, which is being heavily taxed with the fact that all of its customers are trying to pull all of that data at once, explained Andres Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Nasuni, which provides its own storage service that once used Nirvanix as its back-end target.

Rodriguez last week told me he saw this coming long ago and tried warning some of his customers whom he knew were using Nirvanix for some of their cloud storage that he believed Nirvanix was at risk of going out of business.  Now every NIrvanix customer is trying to get their data out. "What's happening now with Nirvanix is the equivalent of bank rush," Rodriguez said. "Everyone is trying to get their data out in a hurry and you know what that does to a network, and it's going to be very hard to get their data out."

When Nasuni used Nirvanix as its cloud storage provider two years ago, Rodriguez became increasingly concerned that it couldn't scale. Nasuni now uses Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (S3) for primary storage. Nasuni runs annual tests against what Rodriguez believes are the largest cloud providers. The most recent test results released earlier this year concluded that Amazon S3 and Windows Azure were the only two viable enterprise-grade storage services.

Nasuni just added a mirroring option that lets customers replicate their data stored in Amazon S3 to Windows Azure for added contingency. While Rodriguez believes Amazon S3 and Windows Azure are the most scalable and resilient, he warns it could be years before the majority of customers feel comfortable using the latter as their primary target.

The Nirvanix demise validates warnings that it's easier to upload to the cloud than to recover large quantities of data and the need to have contingency and migration plans in place, said Forrester Research analyst Henry Baltazar.  "The recent example with Nirvanix highlights why customers should also consider exit and migration strategies as they formulate their cloud storage deployments," Baltazar said in a blog post last week. Now they have a difficult task in gathering their data, he noted.

"One of the most significant challenges in cloud storage is related to how difficult it is to move large amounts of data from a cloud. While bandwidth has increased significantly over the years, even over large network links it could take days or even weeks to retrieve terabytes or petabytes of data from a cloud. For example, on a 1 Gbps link, it would take close to 13 days to retrieve 150 TB of data from a cloud storage service over a WAN link."

Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf also emphasized in a blog post that failure to have an exit strategy when using a cloud service, especially for storage, can be a recipe for disaster. As for this week's Nirvanix news, Hilgendorf said: "What are clients do to?  For most -- react...and react in panic. You may be facing the worst company fear -- losing actual data."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/23/2013 at 12:52 PM


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