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Cloud Storage Provider Nirvanix Goes Belly-Up, Customers Panic To Move Data

Cloud service provider Nirvanix stunned its customers early this week telling them they have two weeks to find another home for their terabytes -- and in some cases petabytes --  of data because the company is shutting down.

First reported on Monday by the U.K.-based Web site Information Age, the sudden collapse of one of the largest cloud storage providers has left customers scrambling, especially those with huge amounts of data stored. Among them are National Geographic and Fox, which use Nirvanix to store their data, according to published reports. Many major providers, including Dell, HP, Riverbed, Symantec and TwinStrata, sourced their cloud storage from Nirvanix when offering their own services, according to StorageReview.com

Since Monday's reports that Nirvanix has run out of money and informed customers and partners that they have two weeks to migrate their data to another cloud provider, the company has given them a slight reprieve: Now they have until Oct. 15, a customer support rep at the company told me Thursday.

Customers will no longer be permitted to upload any data as of next Monday, Sept. 23, but the customer service rep agreed with me that one might not want to upload another bit at this point.

More than 1,000 enterprise customers have data stored in the Nirvanix cloud service, according to Forrester Research analyst Henry Baltazar, who said in a blog post Wednesday that the provider's demise validates warnings that it's easier to upload to the cloud than to recover large quantities of data.

"The recent example with Nirvanix highlights why customers should also consider exit and migration strategies as they formulate their cloud storage deployments," Baltazar said. "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."

With everyone trying to migrate their data simultaneously and Nirvanix's limited network resources, many customers are finding themselves in a jam, said Andres Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Nasuni, which provides its own storage service that once used Nirvanix as its back-end target.

"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."

Rodriguez said he has warned his customers for many months that he believed Nirvanix was at risk of going out of business. Rodriguez said when Nasuni used Nirvanix as its cloud storage provider two years ago, he became increasingly concerned 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 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.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/19/2013 at 3:49 PM


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