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Cloud Computing Poses E-Discovery, Legal Risks

ORLANDO, Fla. — Cloud computing was a hot topic at this week's Storage Networking World show, but one attorney sounded a warning note about the rush to the cloud.

In a presentation titled "Computing (strike that — Litigation) in the Cloud," Steven Teppler, senior counsel at KamberEdelson in New York, said cloud computing and services are a corporate counsel's nightmare.

The 2006 e-discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) changed the legal and corporate information landscape, putting custody and control at top of mind.

"Cloud computing means that data may always be in transit," said Teppler, "never anywhere, always somewhere."

And that creates a big challenge for corporate counsel. How can they identify "who, when and where" in the cloud? How can organizations handle document retention? And to add another layer of worry, information targeted for the cloud may also be subject to laws requiring privacy and persistent data integrity, and other requirements that the storage manager may not even be aware of.

Teppler spelled out the top cloud computing shortcomings: no native security attributes; inadequate or no security provisioning by providers; the lack of understanding of cloud legal issues (a real problem for not only cloud computing providers, but also corporate counsel and IT consultants); and the failure to recognize potential liability from either legal issues or a lack of security.

Teppler told the audience that litigation in the cloud is already here. Users of cloud services will need to insist on service level agreement (SLA) terms with their providers to ensure legal and regulatory compliance, searchability, demonstrable customer care (security), provably persistent data integrity and reliability, and demonstrable storage security and integrity for electronically stored information in the cloud.

FCoE Makes a Splash

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) was a big topic at the conference, as users were eager to learn about the new data storage technology that is expected to hit the market as soon as late this year.

Skip Jones, chair of the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA), called FCoE a "common sense technology" that "takes two successful technologies — the most popular wire in the world, Ethernet, and the most prevalent storage networking technology, Fibre Channel, and puts them together for a solution that provides transparent plug and play." And it also promises to bring together disparate data center technologies into a common solution.

The focus on FCoE, noted Steve Wilson, Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Technical Council member, does not mean that investments and reliance on FC will be abandoned. "FCoE makes a lot of sense, as it does not force any transitions, but instead provides valuable technology to those who want to unify the data center," he said.

Early deployments of FCoE have been in the enterprise data center. In the past few months, however, FCoE interest has expanded to midsize and SMB market spaces. A number of end users were at SNW to select the most effective FCoE solution for their midrange data centers. A hands-on lab featuring Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) and QLogic (NASDAQ: QLGC) offered a variety of approaches to implementing FCoE, and drew attendees from storage, systems and networking disciplines.

Development of Fibre Channel and Ethernet functionality is ongoing, according to Wilson. A new study group has formed in the Technical Committee T11, which is the committee within the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) responsible for Fibre Channel Interfaces, to start activities in Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Ethernet, an effective technology for reducing system load and improving performance. Both companies and OEMs are interested, Wilson said.

According to the newly redefined SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum, the ubiquity of Gigabit Ethernet endpoints, the adoption of 10 Gigabit backbones in IT infrastructures, and the rapid growth of Ethernet-connected storage installations (NAS and iSCSI) are driving an accelerated need for information covering the whole topic of Ethernet storage.

Analysts say that more than 30 percent of the storage networking market in 2009 will be Ethernet-connected, with a growing number of enterprises implementing Ethernet-only data centers, with all storage traffic using an Ethernet infrastructure for SAN, NAS and remote data center connectivity. Analysts also project that this phenomenon is likely to become increasingly widespread in coming years with the deployment of 10GbE and the launch of FCoE solutions into the market.

Solid state storage (SSDs) were also a big topic at SNW, with a number of sessions on the emerging technology and demonstrations from SNIA's Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI).

The falling price of flash-based storage is driving more total cost of ownership (TCO) deployments, according to Neal Ekker of Texas Memory Systems and Terry Yoshii of Intel. Yoshii, the Vice Chair of the SNIA End User Council and a founder of the StorTOC.org end user initiative, posed the question: "What will storage devices cost over the term of its expected life?" With StorTOC and the SSSI, Yoshii is developing an industry standard TCO calculator that will assess full TCO based on true costs and data, assess appropriate use of SSDs in the environment, and help identify additional value-add items such as encryption, compression, secure erase and more.

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