Then officials discovered AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service, a pay-as-you-go storage option that was particularly attractive to the revenue-strapped municipality, Moynihan says. Although the township hasn't yet begun using the Synaptic service (Moynihan says key municipal decision-makers move at a glacial pace), it intends to rely on it for daily system backups and operational backups of financial management applications and other systems used on a day-to-day basis. Later, it will use Synaptic for long-term archiving of documents such as death records and property deeds that must be accessible, essentially, forever.
With the daily system and operational backups, Moynihan says, compliance isn't an issue. But the steering committee has concerns about the archiving. While the Freedom of Information Act requires that much of the township's historical data must be readily accessible, "that doesn't mean we want to publish everything openly on the Web," he says.
When choosing a public cloud storage provider, Moynihan says, officials had to consider where in the world the data might be kept. "For emotional and political reasons, people here don't want our data across borders," he explains.
For example, he had to rule out Google's cloud storage offering, because the company couldn't guarantee that the township's data would be stored on domestic servers. AT&T, on the other hand, identified the specific data center that would hold Clinton's data -- and it said the information would be encrypted.
Pharmaceutical firm trusts the cloud
At AMAG Pharmaceuticals, storage is part and parcel of a cloud computing strategy aimed at reducing IT costs and optimizing business capabilities. The Lexington, Mass., biopharmaceutical company uses Amazon's EC2 infrastructure and S3 storage services, as well as software-as-a-service options when possible, says Nate McBride, executive director of IT. "We're moving all of our storage to that environment, in two buckets -- for files and e-mail," he says, noting that the company uses Egnyte's Cloud File Server on the front end for files and Google and Postini systems for storage and archiving of e-mail.
McBride dismisses common concerns about cloud storage, saying he trusts the vendors to provide better data security than his small organization, and he notes that AMAG is in compliance with all relevant federal and state mandates, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Simplistically speaking, he says, it's done by not linking AMAG and its personnel with the respective data types.
For public cloud storage users like McBride and PBS's Engelson, the question seems to be, "What's the fuss?"