GoCloud’s Weekly Hosted Desktop News Roundup: #4

OpenStack rolls out, rCloud disaster recovery service shuts down, BYOD about secure data, not device

Rackspace OpenStack software is set to “revolutionise the cloud industry” as it’s finally rolled out to customers this week, with one of the first of the ‘big boys’ to take advantage of the open source nature of it being auction giants, eBay.

The new open cloud from Rackspace will allow users to deploy cloud in a variety of ways, including using third party suppliers the opportunity to configure virtual infrastructures to suit their clients.

"The last thing [the end user] needs is to be locked in or feel held hostage by one cloud provider," said John Engates, chief technology officer of San Antonio-based Rackspace Inc.

OpenStack is said to be fully compatible with cloud platforms that are already in place, including both public and private cloud.

"We developed the software, but then we gave it away," Engates added. "With OpenStack in the background, users have the freedom to move between cloud providers using OpenStack, or build their own private cloud using OpenStack technology”.

"Users have the ability to pick up and move to other clouds very quickly, without having to rewrite code, retrain employees or retool applications," he continued.

According to some reports, this means that the rift between Amazon cloud services and Rackspace is now really beginning to show as large organisations such as HP take up OpenStack.

"Customers want the ability to choose where the cloud is and who is providing it. They also want the ability to deploy the cloud where they see fit -- something proprietary cloud offerings have not made possible," Rackspace's Engates added.

"Depending on the workload, location and needs of the project, [a user] might choose Rackspace over Amazon, but might select Amazon for its public cloud for another workload," he said. "It's good to keep both providers on their toes and for users to have both options."

It seems that OpenStack has been gathering pace much like Linux did in its early beginnings and developers in the open source community can expect to have full control of it by the end of the year.

In April Red Hat put its own official endorsement of the software on it; OpenStack also has the advantage of being able to be deployed “in minutes” and offers even more in terms of flexibility in the cloud and virtual environments.

rCloud disaster recovery service shuts down

Disaster recovery service Doyenz rCloud was shut down unexpectedly in the UK at the end of last week and will no longer be providing support or recovery services in Britain, although it’s possible (although as yet unconfirmed) that customers may be able to move to the company’s US-based servers.

The rCloud service came to the UK in November 2011 and was aimed at the SMB market, which continues to show significant growth. This makes it somewhat of a mystery what has happened with the company, who recently also began laying off employees in the States.

Client data is expected to be retained until the end of the month, any resellers or existing customers should contact Doyenz customer support immediately, if they want to regain control of their data and get it backed up elsewhere.

One of the company’s main UK resellers, Blue Solutions, said that all clients and resellers should have already received email direct from Doyenz with regard to the current situation. The reseller also said that the decision to remove the services so abruptly was “surprising and disappointing”.

Doyenz raised $10m in ‘angel’ investment at the end of last year and as such, the move to shut down services will come as a surprise to many. The idea was to make disaster recovery as easy a process as “turning on a light switch”.

Whilst there’s not yet any real evidence to point to why the service has been pulled, industry insiders have suggested that despite having a UK-based hosted London data centre, customers may not be comfortable with handing over precious data to a company based in the USA.

The real issue for many though will be the severe lack of notice that Doyenz gave its customers. This highlights contract issues between providers and SMBs, something which it’s vital to have in place.

Cloud Industry Forum Andy Burton told IT Pro that customers should have been given more time: “I’m not sure why they’ve given customers such a short time window...announcing you’re stopping support in a week and giving people less than a month to get their data back...at a commercial level is pretty poor practice,” he said.

Whilst this may put off UK SMBs when it comes to cloud services, this seems to suggest that it’s best to use services based in this country as when it comes to then moving sensitive data to the US, data protection laws may be contravened.

BYOD – data should be secure

The popularity of BYOD schemes has risen in popularity substantially in recent years and there has been much speculation on the best practices to ensure that both the device and data are secure.

Symantec, the makers of Norton security products, say that whilst 59% of businesses employ some kind of BYOD scheme, many of their IT departments are still struggling to get a handle on how to handle the security of sensitive data.

However, whilst it’s the responsibility of the user not to have an insecure device, many firms don’t even know when employees are connecting to the network with a mobile device and this makes for insecurity.

This is why using a “MAM” (mobile application management) solution is the key to ensuring that data is kept safe. Cloud-based MAM is already available, as are plenty of other mobile management services and this is the key to ensuring that a company can properly see what devices are connecting to the network. Alongside this, permissions can be put in place which give different access to data, depending on the employee's function within the company.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that a company shouldn’t also have a code of practice in place when it comes to which applications can be used in the workplace.

However, it does mean that a successful BYOD scheme can be carried out given a clear set of rules which can be used alongside a good management system. This should in turn give many CIOs some peace when it comes to worrying about security and compliance.