Tag Archives: Storage

At Last! Increased Google Apps Storage

app_sphere_googleGoogle has a whole range of productivity tools from Gmail to Docs. Enabling you to live and work in the cloud and all for free.

If you run a business then they also offer Google Apps which gives you the same tools but for $50 per user per year you get all the clever enterprise stuff all hosted behind your own domain name. Indeed so good is it that a number of very large organisations ranging from media companies to local authorities have moves away from Microsoft Office and Exchange and are now using Google Apps.

But there is also a slimmed down version of Google Apps that is still free aimed at individuals and not for profit organisations. This allows people like me to have all the cool Google tools but use them with my own domain. So I get  huge Gmail inbox but with a markroddis.com email address.

Now one of the tools Google offer is Google Docs. This gives me the ability to create letters, spread sheets and even presentations in my browser. I am also able to upload any file and store it online accessible from any PC with a browser and an internet connection.

But for a long time, there has been a problem.

If I use the free Google docs service I can pay for extra storage. Costs start at $5 for 20GB per year which seems like great value.

Likewise if I am a Google Apps Enterprise user I can purchase storage at a domain level (although it does cost a bit more at $3.50 per GB per year)

But as a Google Apps standard user I can’t have either and the standard offering only gives my 1GB of storage.

Well the good news is that Google are now allowing Google Apps users to buy extra storage at a user level and the even better news is that this is the same cost as Google Docs users

20 GB
$5 USD per year

80 GB
$20 USD per year

200 GB
$50 USD per year

400 GB
$100 USD per year

1 TB
$256 USD per year

Just head over to the User Managed Storage page on Google for more info and to sign up but this is indeed great news for those small Google Apps Standard users.

Reloading My Cloud – Replacing Mozy

In my last posting I discussed how Mozy had changed their game plan in light of what are clear financial difficulties that they are facing into and how my renewal cost is going to jump from  $100 to $528!

Now I use Mozy as a secondary backup. I have a server sitting in the corner of my office and all the PCs in the house backup up to that on a daily basis. This protects me against events such as hard drive failures, accidental deletion of files and so on.

What it does not protect me from however is events such as theft, fire or flood. In these types of event, the chances are that if my home PC were destroyed or lost, my server doing the backups would suffer the same fate. It is for this reason off site backup is essential for both businesses and individuals.

So this is where Mozy came in.

Continue reading Reloading My Cloud – Replacing Mozy

Why did Mozy just pull the cloud out from under my feet?

Over the years, I have gathered a lot of data on my home computer. Digital photos, my music collection, all those letters I have sent.

At the same time I have been faced with managing the storage of this data.

Buying bigger hard drives is the easy bit. Easy to fit and cheap to buy. But backup is a whole different story.

At first you would back up your data to a floppy disk, then a CD ROM, then a DVD but today removable media isn’t up to the task anymore so the only option is spinning disk.

So on the other side of my home office I have a server with a substantial amount of storage and each night all my other machines backup to that. This provides protection against hard drive failure (yes it has happened to me on more than one occasion) accidental deletion but it provided little or no protection against fire, flood or theft.

For the last 3 years I have been using an online backup service from Mozy. For less than $60 a year I could backup ALL my data to the Mozy platform so that in the event of a total loss at home, I would have a way to recover. At $60  year, I know this is a lot for some home users but the thought of loosing a decades worth of media seems like money well spent.

Besides the Mozy service works really well and does exactly what it says on the tin.

But today I got an email from Mozy.

Things are changing.

Continue reading Why did Mozy just pull the cloud out from under my feet?

The World Is Flat

For many years, hierarchy has mattered in most things I have done for work.

Within companies, we have teams within departments within divisions and when it comes to data, hierarchy rules.

Think about it. On the computer you are reading this on right now, your files and data is all stored nicely in folders and groups so that you can find them. You probably have a folder for pictures and and one for music and one for documents and in each of those, you will have sub folders and sub sub folders and so on.

FolderStructure5

And when we build systems that use data, we tend to build them the same way with tiers and layers. The storage vendors will sell you tiered storage on the premise that it is a better way to store things.

So when I use my own companies document management platform, I find that its organisation reflects the company itself. We have folders for teams and projects that in turn sit under parent categories such as HR and Operations and Finance etc. This makes finding stuff very hard if you don’t know which department owns the data you are looking for in the first place. After all, would my companies IT policy be files under HR, IT or Operations (the answer was Legal by the way).

Then users decide that a document should be kept in their “area” so you find them placing a “copy” of it in their folders and suddenly we have multiple copies everywhere all at different revision levels!

Surely there is a better way?

Well companies like Google will tell you that the answer is “search”. They have great technologies that will index your file systems so that you just need to know the name of the file and it will find it.

Windows-Desktop-Search_1

And to help the search engines, we have started seeing the use of Tags. Not only do I save that Word document with a name but I also now give it tags to assist the search engines in their quest and help users identify my document without having to read it.

So in theory, if everything is tagged and everything is being indexed and rather than accessing files and data directly, we are getting to it via a search request, why do we still need to place stuff in folders and sub folders?

So maybe the world should be flat?

Sure for a lot of us, who have grown up in a structured and organised world, this might be harder than it sounds but it is probably the right thing to do.

cluttereddesktop

Now take a moment to look at the picture above.

I am guessing most of us are thinking “has this guy every heard of folders” and we might be right but just think about this. When this user needs to find a file, he can see them all in one view in a single location and whilst you or I are busy double clicking our way through many folders, he has probably found his file and opened it!

So is this a better system?

gmail-1

How about Gmail from Google?

You never delete anything because you have loads of storage. You don’t have folders either however you can Archive stuff and Label stuff. If you want to go back to an email you got last year, you search for it in typical Google fashion.

Again this is a very flat approach.

So I suspect this will be a key differentiator between old and new schools of thought and as the next generation grows up on Facebook and Google Docs with the social web, we will see a shift. Even now we can see how different companies are thinking.

google-docs-sort-hide

If I use Google Docs as an example, again, no folders, just tags, labels and search.

skydrive_overview_2

But if I then compare to Microsoft SkyDrive what do I see? Folders!!!

So the home users are already making this shift and as they embrace the online platforms, I believe we are going to see less and less structure in data storage. A total reverse of what we have done before. File systems will be flat and storage really will be just a bunch of disks added to as needed.

How will this transition into corporate world?

Probably very slowly but we really need to start thinking flat but at the same time, thinking about the data we are creating ensuring that we “tag” data properly. If we can do this, then finding stuff, moving stuff and using stuff is going to be so much easier.

I am just going to sit here now and see how many years it takes for the large corporate document management companies to catch on.

Has EMC killed the cloud storage market even before it got going?

The concept behind cloud storage (like many cloud type things these days) is simple. Why pay big bucks out on expensive to buy and expensive to run storage tin when you can take your storage as a managed service delivered over the WAN and paid for on a per GB basis?

Everybody has been getting in on the band wagon. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace and so on.

Now the downside to the industry is that companies who buy cloud storage are going to be spending much less with the traditional storage vendors such as HDS, EMC and NetApps. So the traditional storage vendors are doing one of two things. There are those who are taking the FUD route. Warning you that your data in the cloud may not be secure. What if your data connections go down? What SLA can the cloud supplier really offer? What if the cloud supplier goes out of business? You get the idea.

But the cloud storage vendors are quick to point out that they offer comprehensive SLAs and that they are big and stable companies and the risk of them going bust is small.

EMC is one such supplier who has been selling it’s Atmos cloud based storage solution to all who will buy it on the back of the big company credentials and solid SLAs.

So when EMC suddenly decided to pull the plug on Atmos last week, you have to question their motives!

Existing customers will now have to go through the pain of migrating what could be huge volumes of data, off Atmos and onto a new cloud storage platform. In some cases a company may even be forced to invest in a new SAN (and I am sure the EMC rep will be along very soon to help them do this) as they will have lost all trust in cloud storage from any vendor.

But if EMC can do this, what is to stop Microsoft or Rackspace or one of any number of small providers doing the same?

So any organisation looking at cloud based storage will now no doubt stop and rethink this decision. Is the risk just too high?

In some cases the answer will be yes and they will invest in traditional onsite SANs just like they always did.

In any case, EMC has now successfully cast a level of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD)  into the cloud storage market place which is going to impact take up of these services and drive the sales of onsite SANs back up again. The cynic in me has to question if Atmos has all been one big campaign to damage the cloud based storage market in the first place. After all, one of the main companies to gain from this would be EMC themselves and that just feels wrong.