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How should our team manage data stored in the cloud?

The cloud storage management umbrella covers a variety of areas -- from controls to migration. How can your team manage cloud data effectively?

Cloud storage requires management. Cloud managers must know where data is located and have the tools available to organize it. Admins can manage storage using a Web browser, a command line or via APIs, depending on the provider and the level of control they offer. The goal is to ensure the provider's management tools mesh well with your enterprise's needs.

To effectively manage data stored in the cloud, it's important to understand the interface and manageability issues of cloud storage providers. Look for a Web interface that allows direct access to cloud storage resources, such as Amazon Web Services' Management Console or command-line interface (CLI).

If you plan to develop software that interfaces with cloud storage services, be sure it's compatible with standards like Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) or Representational State Transfer (REST) Web interfaces that support multiple development platforms. APIs that are available for cloud providers can dramatically simplify and streamline on-premises software development for cloud storage services. For example, Google Cloud Storage XML API supports the REST interface along with Google's JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) API.

Look for management features beyond security controls. Cloud storage providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, support automatic migration, which can move stored data from Simple Storage Service (S3) to Glacier, according to the storage object's age. Because services like Glacier are considerably less expensive than S3, IT teams can implement basic storage lifecycle management to archive older and infrequently accessed data. Automatic deletion is another important feature for managing data; it removes old or expired data based on business needs, which can enforce data retention policies and meet regulatory compliance requirements.

Regional storage control is another important facet of managing data stored in the cloud. One of the principal cloud storage concerns is that content theoretically can be stored anywhere in the world. But this isn't acceptable for companies in certain geographic regions or highly regulated markets. Improperly stored data can carry serious security and legal concerns that violate regulatory compliance requirements. Cloud storage services such as AWS S3 allow users to stipulate the geographic region in which each data set is stored. Beyond regulatory concerns, geographic control also means storing data geographically closer to customers, which can reduce latency in data transfers to and from data centers that house data.

Stephen J. Bigelow is the senior technology editor of the Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. He can be reached at

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