It seems that everywhere you turn in the news there is an article about Cloud Computing and how this will change the world as we know it. Before you explore a digital asset management solution based on Cloud Computing there are important factors that you need to consider. Cloud Computing solutions are certainly changing the marketplace in areas where scalability of both storage and CPU cycles are needed. It would seem that cloud-based digital asset management would be an ideal fit since there are both large files and intensive image processing required. As Cloud computing has gained popularity, there are major web-based services that have taken advantage of the cost efficiency and are able to offer customers a very low cost for a subscription to their service. There are, however, a few key things to consider before you make the jump to cloud-based digital asset management, which is why Honeycomb Archive has not yet adopted Cloud infrastructure into our data architecture.
A very important consideration is that redundancy is not backup! Most non-IT users do not distinguish between redundancy and backup. Redundancy, a feature of Cloud computing, provides for data to be stored in multiple locations. Backup on the other hand is the ability to preserve data at a point in time and to retain this data in case it is necessary to recover it in the future. One of the great benefits of Cloud is that media storage and sometimes CPU processing is distributed. Most Cloud services maintain data in up to three separate locations. This is an excellent redundancy, should there be an internet outage or data center disaster. The data is readily available from the other Cloud locations without an interruption in service.
What most people fail to consider, though, is that redundancy is not the same as data backup and retention. For example, Cloud services may use an API, a software feature from the Cloud vendor, to write, read and delete data such as an image from the Cloud. When a new image is loaded into the cloud-based digital asset management system, the API is used to put the file into the Cloud and when the image is selected for deletion, the API is used to delete the file. The Cloud vendor architecture handles the write, read or delete of this file in multiple locations. The problem that occurs is that should a user inadvertently delete the file or should a rogue employee purposely delete a file, there may be no backup of that file. This is because even though the file is stored in multiple locations, the API deletes it from all locations when a user gives a command to delete the file. Since popular cloud hosting solutions do not include an option for backing up data stored in this manner, there may not be a way to recover that deleted file.
A better option for most business customers will be to store files in a more conventional manner on a server where the data can be backed up regularly and multiple copies of data backup are retained for a longer period of time. With an actual backup and retention process, it will be possible to recover a file that was inadvertently deleted, perhaps months later when this event is discovered.