With the advent of the cloud storage as paradigm of storage-as-a-service, many companies are moving their data to the cloud. Each company has diverse reasons for this, but when talking about public clouds the concerns are almost always the same: security, availability, integrity, and accessibility of the data stored in the cloud. Cloud storage still remains a fairly new paradigm; thus, each cloud storage provider has its own set of interfaces to store, access and delete the data stored in the cloud.
When using cloud as a provider for archiving services, this lack of standards can become an obstacle for inter-cloud data migration. Cloud archive service providers must store customer data for extended periods of time (generally years, including forever). However, relationships between providers and customers often do not last forever. Price, better service, legal issues, data security, or even providers going out of business are some of the reasons why customers might want to change their cloud archive provider. Some companies may also want to spread the archival of their data between several providers or migrate their data from private/hybrid clouds to public providers. Customers must have the ability to move their data seamlessly between providers, which is becoming more difficult every day due to the lack of standards for managing data in the cloud.
Some efforts to standardize the access to data stored in the cloud, like SNIA's Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI), are in progress. CDMI defines a functional interface for both end-users and administrators to manage the data and metadata stored in the cloud and define containers for the data. CDMI also provides support for data retention, where data cannot be modified or deleted for a given period of time. Other main feature of CDMI is that clients have the ability to discover the capabilities of the cloud storage service offered by the provider.
Action Item: The vendor community should support and adopt standards for cloud storage data management, like CDMI. A standardized interface for management of data stored in the cloud will be a huge differential between vendors in the near future. Forcing the customers to write their own interfaces for each cloud provider will increase the cost and difficulty of cloud archiving adoption and drive customers away from providers with "proprietary" interfaces.