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Volume 28, Issue 1

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Jon Seals

Worried about outages & vendor shutdowns? Here's what you can do


This week’s news about cloud storage provider (CSP) Nirvanix has lots of organizations thinking about and, in some cases scrambling to deal with, the repercussions of a cloud provider shutting down. While pundits may speculate about what happened to this particular CSP and ponder the various “what-if” scenarios of how the outcome might have been different, such analyses offer little consolation to the customers who are affected by this sudden change and loss of their trusted cloud vendor.
Adding to the hysterics, cloud opponents on the sideline may find time to revel in the momentary superiority of traditional IT infrastructure which is unaffected by such disruptions. However, those who understand the intrinsic value of cloud storage solutions and have been perceptive of prior happenings in the cloud industry may recall this week’s incident is not unique, as a major vendor shut down their CSP services over three years ago. Instead, they may ask whether the events of three years ago have improved the ability of customers to react to an event of this nature.

At TwinStrata, we’ve built a business on enabling organizations to utilize one or many cloud providers and/or their local storage infrastructure to store and protect their data. What’s relevant to this post is that our team is spending this week helping migrate a number of customers to new cloud providers on a very urgent basis.
The reality of the past few years - particularly the past day or so - has included occasional cloud outages and cloud providers exiting the business. While many cloud providers tout a near-bulletproof infrastructure consisting of multiple copies of data spread across multiple data centers, exceptionally high data durability and always-on data availability, these capabilities cannot always prevent the unexpected: the accidental user account shutdown, a significant network outage from your premises or the natural evolution that inevitably occurs in the provider landscape. While the latter are rare, they remain the types of events for which business and IT leaders ought to plan when preparing a data storage strategy with provisions for recovery and business continuity.

When it comes to storing data in the cloud, facilitating the migration of cloud storage should factor into the overall contingency plan. So what are some of the provisions businesses should take to ensure they can protect data stored in the cloud from the unknown? 

•	Ingress and egress of data. One of the first questions organizations may ask is how they can pull their data out of the cloud, followed by how long it will take. Some internet providers allow bandwidth bursts during short intervals lasting days or weeks for unusually large transfers. If additional bandwidth is not available, all is not lost. Objects stored in the cloud can be transferred from one cloud to another cloud using a cloud provider’s bandwidth, without having to upgrade on-premise networking. Finally, a third option is utilizing an import/export processes for cloud providers having the capability to physically ship data on disks.
•	Multiple copies of data. While this may seem like an obvious consideration, having multiple copies of data either across clouds and/or a cached copy locally can take the edge off of a cloud outage or a cloud provider ceasing operations. A local copy on low-cost storage can be relatively cheap insurance and can ease the bandwidth needs if it is necessary to pull the data back on premise.
•	Protocol compatibility across clouds. Cloud storage gateway and cloud-integrated storage technologies are often a key part of enabling a migration path to a new cloud if and when needed, offering the same application interface to storage across a number of different cloud vendors having different APIs. If you are not using a gateway today, it is not difficult to add as part of the migration process, and you also gain advantages around performance and data security.
•	Working with a trusted vendor. Always work with a vendor that understands the needs of your business including recovery time and recovery point objectives. Complying with these objectives will give you a plan that keeps your business on it’s feet, no matter where your data lives.
While the prospect of a cloud provider outage or shutdown can seem daunting, it is not an insurmountable problem. Careful planning that accounts for the different dimensions and scenarios of data stored in the cloud can replace the worry with peace of mind.

Scalable Solutions Offer Larger Storage Data Sets and Faster Performance

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Riverbed Technology (NASDAQ: RVBD), the application performance company, today announced it has expanded its Whitewater® cloud storage appliance family with the addition of new hardware models and upgrades to its operating system(OS). The new Riverbed® Whitewater appliances and OS provide more capacity, faster ingest speeds and more replication options. These features and capabilities make the new Whitewater appliances a critical component for enterprises wishing to leverage the economical price and reliability of cloud storage options such as Amazon Glacier.

Enhancements include new Whitewater model appliances with up to triple the cache of previous models and support of up to 14.4 petabytes of logical data. The Whitewater Operating System (WWOS) 3.0 also offers new features, including pairwise replication that enable enterprises to replicate to an additional Whitewater appliance at a secondary location. In addition, enterprises can now leverage the 10 gigabit networking interface that dramatically improves ingest performance.

“We needed to replace our tape-based backup with a more efficient and scalable solution that could handle seismic data from our global operations and the new Whitewater cloud storage 3030 model appliance shocked us with really great results,” said Bradley Lauritsen, director of exploration applications, at Apache Corporation, a Houston-based oil and gas exploration and production company with operations globally. “The Whitewater appliance transforms our ability to backup and recover by improving our IT efficiency for protecting seismic data while delivering significant cost savings. We now feel confident that even in locations where connection speeds are slow, we can maintain continuous operations with the new WWOS 3.0.”

Cloud storage has become a more attractive option for backup and archiving as it has become more economical and reliable, with options such as Amazon Glacier, which offers pricing as low as a penny per gigabyte each month and is designed to have average annual durability of 99.999999999% for an archive.  In fact, customers that deploy the Whitewater 3030 model appliance can save more than $750,000 over a three year period when backing up to Amazon Glacier. With varying requirements for recovery time objectives (RTO) of certain data sets, the ability to recover certain data sets locally and immediately has also become increasingly important.    

“Disk-to-disk backup architectures have become extremely popular in the last few years. Adding the ability to integrate public cloud storage into this architecture offers an immediate return to operations at a disaster recovery site while capturing the cost advantages of very aggressive cloud storage services such as Amazon Glacier,” said Laura DuBois, program vice president, storage at IDC. “Riverbed is focused on helping enterprise customers achieve the immediate recovery they require and helping them reduce operations costs by riding the curve of rapidly decreasing cloud storage price points.”

Pairwise Replication and Pinning for Faster Recovery Options

The new WWOS 3.0 offers support for pairwise replication for Whitewater appliances that allows enterprises greater flexibility to choose the appropriate recovery option to meet their RTO based on their business continuity plans. For the fastest RTO, a Whitewater appliance can recover at disk speed to a secondary site. In addition, the new OS offers a pinning feature that allows enterprises to tier and choose which backup data sets are available on the Whitewater appliance cache for immediate access, while less critical backup data sets can be recovered from the cloud.

Scalable to Meet Growing Data Sets as Enterprises Grow

The three new Whitewater model (730, 2030, 3030) appliances offer between 8 to 96 TB usable cache capacity. The largest model, WWA-3030, can cache up to three times the amount of data as the previous largest model (3010) and can support backup & archive datasets of up to 14.4 petabytes[1] before it is compressed and deduplicated onto the local cache.

Faster Ingest Speeds and 10 Gigabit Networking Interface Support

For faster performance, enterprises can also choose to use 10 gigabit networking interfaces to get up to 2.5 terabytes per hour ingest performance, a 40 percent increase over previous models. The 10 gigabit networking interface also enables enterprises to transfer to Amazon Glacier cloud storage leveraging Amazon Direct Connect.

“As public cloud storage costs continue to fall, customers are looking to move new and larger data sets into the cloud. Our new generation of Whitewater cloud storage appliances expands scalability and performance to meet customer requirements,” said John Martin, senior vice president and general manager, Storage Delivery Business Unit at Riverbed. “In addition to helping customers ingest, protect and store more data, the new WWOS 3.0 features, such as replication, improve customers’ disaster recovery initiatives by offering immediate recovery at a disaster recovery location should their primary system suffer a significant outage. These capabilities greatly expand the number of organizations that can implement cloud storage while tailoring RTO to their unique requirements.”

Whitewater is a purpose built storage appliance, optimized for data protection and archiving, that helps seamlessly integrate organizations’ cloud storage infrastructures to deliver instant recovery, end to end security, and the industry’s most cost-effective storage for backup and archive data. Leveraging the cloud as a safe, secure site for data storage, Whitewater appliances streamline IT management and allow organizations to pay only for what they use, eliminating constant hardware refreshes and large capital outlays.

Availability

WW0S 3.0 is available now and a free upgrade for all existing Whitewater customers under a support agreement allowing them to take advantage of the new features and enhancing their investment in Whitewater appliances. Whitewater model 730, 2030, 3030 appliances are generally available.

Additional Resources

 

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements relating to the expected demand for Riverbed's products and services and the ability to reduce capital spending. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they do not fully materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties that could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements include our ability to react to trends and challenges in our business and the markets in which we operate; our ability to anticipate market needs or develop new or enhanced products to meet those needs; the adoption rate of our products; our ability to establish and maintain successful relationships with our distribution partners; our ability to compete in our industry; fluctuations in demand, sales cycles and prices for our products and services; shortages or price fluctuations in our supply chain; our ability to protect our intellectual property rights; general political, economic and market conditions and events; and other risks and uncertainties described more fully in our documents filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission. More information about these and other risks that may impact Riverbed's business are set forth in our Form 10-K filed with the SEC for the period ended December 31, 2012, and our subsequent quarterly reports filed with the SEC. All forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information available to us as of the date hereof, and we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements. Any future product, feature or related specification that may be referenced in this release are for information purposes only and are not commitments to deliver any technology or enhancement. Riverbed reserves the right to modify future product plans at any time.

About Riverbed

Riverbed delivers application performance for the globally connected enterprise. With Riverbed, enterprises can successfully and intelligently implement strategic initiatives such as virtualization, consolidation, cloud computing, and disaster recovery without fear of compromising performance. By giving enterprises the platform they need to understand, optimize and consolidate their IT, Riverbed helps enterprises to build a fast, fluid and dynamic IT architecture that aligns with the business needs of the organization. Additional information about Riverbed (NASDAQ: RVBD) is available at www.riverbed.com.

Feature For many SMEs, tape disappeared from their landscape as a data storage choice ten or more years ago. Domestically, it exists, if at all, as a legacy item with perhaps a car stereo chewing its way through a selection of fondly regarded C-90s. Still, this lack of public visibility by no means indicates that tape has come to the end of its spool.

Hard drive prices have steadily fallen while their capacities escalate unabated, and yet tape storage continues to play a pivotal role in business information management. For the big data boom, it proves cost-effective, energy efficient and easier to handle for remote back-ups and archiving. To find out more about the reliance IT places on this media and how it’s is deployed, I met with two IT professionals who share the same job title, but have very different roles.

...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/09/18/tape_and_the_business_of_disaster_recovery/

FEI Behavioral Health, a national crisis management, EAP and wellness company based in Milwaukee, will present a session at the upcoming Disaster Recovery Journal Fall World 2013 Conference in San Diego, running Sept. 22-25, 2013.

FEI’s Senior Director Terri Howard will present an innovative workshop, “Best Practices in Accounting for People during Crisis Events,” on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 1:30 p.m. PDT. The presentation will discuss how business continuity professionals can create a comprehensive accounting for people plan for their organizations.

Participants will learn how a properly managed and executed family assistance plan can boost their organizations’ public image and assist with the successful resolution of a crisis. The session will help organizations identify ways to effectively respond to information inquiries, while ensuring that other response and recovery operations can proceed. Attendees will review case studies outlining best practices companies have implemented to account for people in the past and will learn how these strategies are currently being used.

Howard is responsible for working with FEI corporate clients to ensure they are prepared for, can respond to and recover from a crisis incident. She also coordinates the people support and psychological first aid services for those impacted by crises, and she is responsible for developing drills and exercises aimed at testing current plans and procedures. Over the years, Howard has contributed to several international standards and guidelines on crisis management and workplace violence prevention, including ASIS, a global community of more than 38,000 security practitioners, and the FBI.

To learn more about this presentation or the Disaster Recovery Journal Fall World 2013 Conference, visit http://www.drj.com/fallworld/.

FEI Behavioral Health is the workforce resilience expert. It delivers peace of mind to workers and their families through EAP, crisis management and work-life services. FEI established the first national EAP and is an industry leader in crisis management. It offers professional, user-friendly, 24-hour access to problem solving resources that result in better work environments. FEI Behavioral Health is part of Families International, Inc., a nonprofit membership organization of four closely-aligned, yet separate entities. Visit http://www.feinet.com for additional information.

Since the 2004 amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations moved risk assessments and program assessments from the realm of best practice to what can be seen as the territory of de facto requirements, there has been a fair bit of confusion regarding the distinctions between these two C&E program components.

In principle, a C&E risk assessment helps an organization understand not only what its risks are, but how to mitigate them.  A program assessment, of course, tells the company how well the program is functioning.  So, risk assessment can be seen as more design oriented, and a program assessment has more of an operational focus.

But in practice, the two overlap because one cannot assess risks without understanding how well a C&E program is mitigating them (i.e., the concept of “net risk”) and one cannot measure program efficacy without meaningful reference to an organization’s C&E risks.  Moreover, some program measures will clearly serve both risk and program assessment purposes.  For instance, C&E-related questions on employee surveys (e.g., whether the respondent agrees with the statement, “My manager acts with integrity”) can be useful both for program assessment purposes (that is, assessing how well the program is impacting behavior) and also risk assessment ones (that is, variations in responses among business units and/or geographies can help an organization determine where its risks are, and hence where additional C&E measures – such as training or auditing – are warranted).

...

http://www.corporatecomplianceinsights.com/points-of-intersection-between-risk-assessment-and-program-assessment

CSO — Before rushing into allowing employees to do their jobs on their personal devices, organizations need to diligently address the unique risks of that practice, cautioned a report by an international cybersecurity information organization.

When businesses push Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs into place too quickly, risk management is often neglected or rushed, leaving organizations with both unknown and unnecessary risks, the Information Security Forum reported on Tuesday.

For organizations to be successful in the era of mobile devices in the workplace, risk management must be the foundation of any BYOD program, the report added.

...

http://www.cio.com/article/739940/Look_at_Risk_Before_Leaping_Into_BYOD_Report_Cautions

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are becoming a trending and serious issue when it comes to Cyber Security across many industries in particular the banking and financial sectors.

In a DDoS attack Botnets (usually referred to as a “Zombie army”) bombards a server or a network with thousands of system requests sent from infected computers and internet connections causing network traffic to become overloaded and unavailable. So how do we prevent this from happening? Below are five strategies that can be used to prevent a DDoS.

One is improving network resilience by implementing connection redundancy and dedicated DDoS mitigation systems to isolate and remediate attacks. Consider deployment of additional DNS and web servers to balance the CPU load from the incoming flood of requests or use load balancing to bring critical services back up quickly.

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/five-strategies-to-prevent-a-distributed-denial-of-service-ddos-attack/

Combining operational data from other sources — particularly Big Data sets — is generating a lot of discussion as a “next step” for companies investing in Big Data. So it’s not surprising that Pentaho’s release of its new Business Analytics 5.0 platform is generating some buzz.

Pentaho calls this release a “complete redesign and overhaul of its data integration and analytics platform,” according to IDG. The reason for the overhaul: Pentaho wants to build a solution from the ground up that could address “data blending” and make it easier for the end user.

Which begs the question: What, exactly, is “data blending?”

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/blending-data-helps-gain-big-data-business-insights-in-a-structured-it-world.html

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 15:07

Does the Private Cloud Have a Real Future?

Conventional wisdom holds that enterprises will embrace the public cloud while revamping internal infrastructure with private cloud technology, eventually combining the two into a grand hybrid data environment.

Sometimes the best laid plans have their detractors, however.

In this case, that would be Amazon Senior VP Andy Jassy, who took the floor at the recent AWS Enterprise Summit in London to unleash both barrels on the private cloud concept, calling it “archaic” and all but accusing traditional enterprise vendors (a.k.a. the “old guard”) of keeping the enterprise in thrall with a bunch of false promises. At best, he said even large firms will see internal infrastructure reduced to a shadow of its former self as organizations tap into the data service powerhouse that Amazon has become.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/does-the-private-cloud-have-a-real-future.html

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 15:07

Story: “When I Close My Eyes, I Hear Water”

Story by American Red Cross Volunteer, Catherine Barde

Eldin and Audrey Myer, married 53 years and lifelong Colorado residents, lost their home in the devastating flood waters in Evans, Colorado. They found themselves in one of many shelters opened across Colorado as safe place for people to stay along with blankets, cots, food, comfort and emotional support.

“We got taken out on a boat – the water was over our fence,” Eldin recalled. They watched their home surrounded by a wall of water as they left.  Trees, barrels and tires filled the turbulent water as the boat carried them to safety.  John Betz, their nephew, lost his home next door and shared his photo of their rescue.

Eldin and Audrey were escorted to the local hospital and then found shelter at the Greeley Recreation Center.  Red Cross Health Services has continued to monitor their medication needs and blood pressure.

“We have lost everything including our pets, we just had no time to get anything except Eldin’s cane and my purse,” Audrey said.

“When I close my eyes, I see water, I hear water”,  Audrey Myer said, as tears welled up in her eyes. “When you have lost everything, it is so great to come to the Red Cross shelter. There is a nurse, personal items, shampoo and toiletries. We are so grateful.”

HOW TO HELP:

VOLUNTEERING: At this time, the American Red Cross of Colorado is fortunate to have volunteers who are trained, ready and willing to support our response to the flooding in our communities. We thank individuals and community groups who are willing to support this effort and encourage them to register to become new volunteers to help with future disaster responses. They can find all relevant information at http://www.redcross.org/co/denver/volunteer.

Should the situation change or worsen, we will update information on our website and in press releases to indicate whether we are accepting volunteers to help with this response.

In Kind Donations: The Red Cross does not accept donated items at their shelters. People with items to donate are urged to go to www.helpcoloradonow.org to find out where supplies are needed.

DONATE: The Red Cross is able to respond to a widespread disaster affecting numerous communities because of the generosity of donors. If you would like to support our work responding to these and other disasters, donate online at www.redcross.org/donate or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

PREPARE YOURSELF AND YOUR COMMUNITY: One of the best ways to take action right now if you are not personally affected by the flooding is to prepare yourself, your loved ones and/or your workplace. When you are prepared, you contribute to your community’s ability to withstand and recover from disasters. Find out more and start making your emergency Game Plan by visiting our National Preparedness Month information page: http://www.redcross.org/news/event/National-Preparedness-Month—Colorado.

KEEP IN TOUCH: If you live in an affected community, please notify your loved ones of your status via text, phone, e-mail or social media. In addition, list your status on www.safeandwell.org. You may also search for people on the site.

 

http://newsroom.redcross.org/2013/09/17/story-when-i-close-my-eyes-i-hear-water/