Who’s using cloud storage?

We currently back-up essential grant data/documents to a thumb-drive. This is actually a back-up of a back-up, that would be accessed in case of emergencies. Because I’ve experienced losing everything from a thumb-drive malfunction, I don’t recommend storing anything extremely important on one. I’ve suggested we use cloud storage to back-up grant documents. I use Google docs for my personal data, but wanted to see if agencies had embraced cloud data storage. I’ve researched security, storage space and accessibility for several services. IMHO, cloud storage seems to be a much better alternative than a thumb-drive. Am I missing something? Is anyone using cloud storage, and if so, how are you using it, and what service are you using? Thanks.

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Sharon Henry

Live Mesh or SkyDrive, Microsoft services. Live Mesh gives you 5GB of online storage and an online desktop that looks a lot like Windows Vista. You can upload any type of file, but you cannot edit any of your files through the online desktop.
it does constantly watch for changes in the folders you are synchronizing to it and updates them automatically. And, you can share folders. I’m partial to Microsoft mainly because i don`t want to have to worry that the vendor won’t be around in five years. SkyDrive (keep the files private, share with contacts, or make the files public.)

JungleDisk actually provides a frontend to Amazon’s S3 storage service. JungleDisk costs $20, after that, you pay Amazon for the storage and transfer of files. It also lets you map your Amazon S3 storage space as a network drive on your computer, so that you can just drag and drop files back and forth between your online storage and your local desktop.

Nomadesk.com looks promising. It backs-up and synchronize files and folders across multiple computers. Also In the event a computer is lost or stolen you can remotely “shred” the files on the lost computer as soon as someone tries to access them.

I’d also like to look further into smestorage.com. Can backup data to Amazon S3 through their Rich web site or Firefox plug-in and can be accessed through iPhone, mobile, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Office and others

I’ve heard good things about DropBox, but you have to install a program on your machine to run DropBox, and in an emergency, I’d want people to be able to get to that data from any available machine.

Sonny Hashmi

Thanks! Thats a lot to investigate. This will become a priority for us next year so I want to start the research now. Of course, we will need to overcome the additional hurdle of government friendly terms of service and security. For that reason, the Amazon and Microsoft offerings may be attractive since both are “blessed” via the GSA IaaS offerings, although the C&A is still necessary.

I use DropBox and MobileMe all the time. DropBox is great and has clients for everything, and is also accessible online at dropbox.com. The download is only necessary if you want a desktop shortcut. I also you MobileMe iDisk, which is a great product but not intended for enterprise (no centralized management, provisioning, etc.). We want to make sure that which ever service we use has mobile access from Blackberry, iOS and other platforms. That is one of the key draws to this initiative.

Thanks for the input and keep us posted!

Matt Supert

I guess it depends on how you want to classify cloud storage. We use Sharepoint for almost all of our document management and it is accessible externally from a web-browser with our active directory login. We are not using anything that is a personal or private cloud storage for any personnel at this time simply because those service like Live Mesh (which are awesome) or Dropbox don’t really allow any IT administrator lock down or control. .

Sonny Hashmi

Thanks Matt…

I consider cloud storage different from Document Management. Both have strengths and weaknesses. Document Management systems such as Sharepoint, Drupal, and even Google Docs are great for collaboration, sharing, updates, versioning, etc., but are cumbersome for whole sale file storage. I classify storage to be something like a DropBox or MobileMe iDisk that is an extension of your file system, allows wholesale replication of critical files, syncing, universal access (browser based, desktop, mobile). I am not personally aware of any cloud storage providers who are offering an “enterprise” solution that allow centralized administration, quotas, provisioning, security. eDiscovery and authentication against AD, etc. This would be most useful. I suspect either Google or Microsoft would be in an excellent position to offer such a service. Anyone care to share any first hand experience?

Sharon Henry

Thanks Judy, interesting article. I’m still looking to see if anyone uses cloud storage – specifically for backing up grants data.