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In his recent Computerworld blog, Chris Poelker discusses cloud security and business data, noting that it seems many people are still skeptical about the cloud due to the government’s ability to access their data. However, he correctly points out an irony; many of these same people treat information security carelessly, especially when it comes to their personal information.

In his recent travels through Canada, Chris conducted a number of seminars on the impact of the cloud on the business community. Most, if not all, of the attendees brought up concerns about data security laws, but also most carried smartphones with applications. Chances are high that when they downloaded those applications, many of them did not read the entire license agreements before choosing to accept.

Why does Chris bring up this point? Because applications, Facebook accounts, Google searches, online purchases and other online activity generate data about who we are, where we live, and what we buy. So even though there is all of this personal information out there, people are still concerned about the cloud and the security of their information for business use.

The truth is that cloud providers are aware of data security laws, far more than many consumers of personal applications, and they want to keep our business information safe. To learn more about why the cloud is safer than you think, check out Chris’ post, Security, data and the cloud.
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The CLOUD2 commision just announced the results of a few months of work performed by 71 individuals from academia, industry and government. This report and buyer’s guide, along with the first cloud directive from federal CIO Vivek Kundra, is already beginning to have an impact on the way government spends IT dollars. As seen in this article by Colleen Miller, Survey: Feds Making Progress on ‘Cloud First’, a survey done at the FOSE government technology conference, roughly 75 percent of respondents are already using the cloud in some fashion.

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If you picked up this month’s issue of Storage magazine, you likely noticed the article by Jacob Gsoedl titled, “Blueprint for cloud-based disaster recovery” (page 21). You also might have noticed my quote in the piece, which detailed different options for disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud (page 27).

Gsoedl notes that there are lots of different ways to do DR in the cloud. He ably discusses the pros and cons of managed applications and managed DR, back up to and restore from the cloud, replication to virtual machines in the cloud and back up to and restore to the cloud.

For that final option, I told Gsoedl that, “several cloud service providers use our products for secure deduped replication and to bring servers up virtually in the cloud.” I’d love to expand on that statement, if I may.

As the article explains, these recommendations all offer attractive elements for companies, depending on their needs, resources and recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) requirements. What it didn’t get to, however, is that the huge opportunity in cloud-based DR, regardless of the specific method employed, is to change the back up paradigm itself.

The cloud expands the opportunity to stop talking about just protecting specific files or data blocks and start talking about service-oriented data protection (SODP). This is what matters to enterprises, of course. Beyond protecting bits and bytes, the cloud needs to help organizations deliver better service to users.

That’s what FalconStor data protection is about. Our tools deliver cloud-based backup and DR designed with SODP in mind, and any blueprint for cloud-based disaster recovery must have service embedded in its foundation.

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Last year was a significant one for virtualized servers in the government-agency data center. Many such organizations took advantage of the opportunity to make better use of existing budgets by consolidating physical infrastructure and commoditizing server hardware.

What many of those agencies have yet to act on, though, is the other half of the story.

In 2010, these organizations will move to address the data aspects of information technology and the value of storage virtualization.There are real economic savings to be had here for any IT team that recognizes its job did not end with server virtualization. I actually wrote an article in Government Computer News that appeared this month on this very subject:"Why 2010 is the year of the virtual data center."

Storage virtualization is accomplished by creating a virtual abstraction layer between physical or virtual servers and the existing physical storage. Once the storage is virtualized and the physical location of data becomes abstracted from the hosts, some interesting opportunities for savings become apparent:

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Tape backup is still the most prevalent technology in place for dealing with data protection, and array based replication is still the most common method of protection for mission critical applications, but companies are really starting to like the idea of saving money by innovating in how they attack the largest ongoing IT costs, which is still backup and disaster recovery.

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