No Happy Ending To The Fable Of 'Zodiac Island' And The Cloud Storage Provider

Alas, the tales spun by vendors, analysts and other cloud computing cheerleaders that paint the cloud as an infinitely expandable, reliable and affordable kingdom--where "The winter is forbidden till December/And exits March the second on the dot"--are as fantastical as Camelot itself. WeR1 Production, which produces the syndicated children's show "Zodiac Island," is learning this lesson after Binky the sheep and Sonny the tiger went to the bit bucket.

Howard Marks

April 22, 2011

2 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Alas, the tales spun by vendors, analysts and other cloud computing cheerleaders that paint the cloud as an infinitely expandable, reliable and affordable kingdom--where "The winter is forbidden till December/And exits March the second on the dot"--are as fantastical as Camelot itself. WeR1 Production, which produces the syndicated children's show "Zodiac Island," is learning this lesson after Binky the sheep and Sonny the tiger went to the bit bucket.

According to the complaint in WeR1's lawsuit against CyberLynk of Franklin, Wisc., a former CyberLync employee gained access to CyberLync's systems and deleted a whole season of "Zodiac Island" consisting of about 6,500 files or 300Gbytes of data.  As is common in animation today, WeR1 used an FTP server at CyberLync as a drop box to coordinate work among animators, editors and other creative types in several countries.

CyberLync was supposed to back up the FTP server but was unable to recover the data. To make things just a bit ironic, in addition to web and FTP hosting, CyberLync also sells online backup services and advertises backup consulting services on its website.

Even if WeR1 wins its suit, CyberLync might not be able to pay the true value of the 14 episodes in question. Cloud storage can be a great idea, especially for the collaboration case like WeR1's, but leaving your company's primary asset exclusively in the hands of a third party is too much for me.

The part I find most amazing about this story isn't that WeR1 didn't make its own backup copy of the raw footage and other components of the "Zodiac Island" shows, but that it never saved the final versions. After all, at some point, the episodes are ready to send out to the more than 100 TV stations that broadcast the syndicated show.Even if the affiliates downloaded the show from the same FTP server, I would have saved the final episodes folder, which would have been less than 10Gbyes for SD video, in several places just so I didn't have to wait for the download when I showed it off to anyone visiting the office. I'd probably even go Hollywood and burn copies to DVD or Blu-Ray disks just so I could hand them out to all my less successful friends. Every creative person I know has his or her personal stash of work squirreled away to show friends and family.

The moral of the story is that your data isn't really safe unless it's stored in two places and on two different technologies. Data problems, like fat-fingered admins and software bugs, replicate well across homogeneous storage systems, but have much more trouble crossing from primary disk to deduped disk or tape. It doesn't matter what the contracts say, there must be backups, and those backups must be verified. Even Google backs up Gmail to tape.

About the Author(s)

Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger

Howard Marks</strong>&nbsp;is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage systems, networks, management systems and Internet strategies at organizations including American Express, J.P. Morgan, Borden Foods, U.S. Tobacco, BBDO Worldwide, Foxwoods Resort Casino and the State University of New York at Purchase. The testing at DeepStorage Labs is informed by that real world experience.</p><p>He has been a frequent contributor to <em>Network Computing</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>InformationWeek</em>&nbsp;since 1999 and a speaker at industry conferences including Comnet, PC Expo, Interop and Microsoft's TechEd since 1990. He is the author of&nbsp;<em>Networking Windows</em>&nbsp;and co-author of&nbsp;<em>Windows NT Unleashed</em>&nbsp;(Sams).</p><p>He is co-host, with Ray Lucchesi of the monthly Greybeards on Storage podcast where the voices of experience discuss the latest issues in the storage world with industry leaders.&nbsp; You can find the podcast at: http://www.deepstorage.net/NEW/GBoS

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like


More Insights