Rackspace vs Azure

Rackspace vs Azure Performance

Rackspace vs AzureWith numerous cloud hosting providers out there, how do you choose? It's not an easy process. There are numerous factors to consider, but of course the two main considerations are price and performance.

In terms of performance, that can be a little tougher to figure out. Each provider has a different method of allocating and provisioning resources. As such, you really need to have a solid understanding of your specific needs before you can begin researching the best provider for your situation.

Here's a look at Windows Azure and Rackspace in order to determine the best choice between the two(Rackspace vs Azure). Keep in mind that one is PaaS (Azure) while the other is IaaS. Even though we are comparing them, they are essentially different in that respect.

Rackspace vs Azure: Performance

Cloudspectator.com tested both Azure and Rackspace against the Unixbench test, a benchmarking tool recognized by most in the IT world as the standard performance test. It gives a score after conducting certain tests designed to push server loads to max capacity, revealing the type of load the system can handle.

After five days of non-stop testing, it was determined that Azure beat Rackspace 1442.8-555.2. Imagine that — Linux running faster on Windows than Rackspace Openstack!

Could it be the processor options that set Azure apart? Rackspace offers only 64 bit, while Azure offers both 32 and 64 bit.

Rackspace vs Azure: Price

There is a bit of difference when you compare price. If you choose Rackspace, you'll enjoy no charge on incoming bandwidth. Outgoing is .12 per GB. Azure charges .10 per GB incoming, .12 per GB outgoing. Each offers pay-as-you-go, and Azure has the added bonus of monthly subscription plans.

Rackspace vs Azure: Other Features

In terms of security, Rackspace one-ups Azure: they offer both backup storage and snapshot backup. Azure only offers backup storage.

Another area Rackspace wins: they offer VPS for free, while Azure charges.

If you're concerned about network availability, you should choose Rackspace, though the difference is minute: Rackspace offers 100% uptime, while Azure guarantees 99.9% availability.

For web hosting, Azure is no additional charge. There is a fee with Rackspace. Want root access? Both providers offer it.

There is also a higher amount of compatibility with Rackspace. They are compatible with most OS except for Debian, Oracle Enterprise Linux, and Windows Server 2003. Azure, on the other hand, isn't compatible with FreeBSD, Gentoo Linux, openSUSE Linux, or Ubuntu 10.04.

Azure is also superior in terms of the languages it supports. And speaking of support, both offer free, 24/7 support, but only Rackspace offers online help guides and live chat functionality.

Rackspace vs Azure: The Verdict

Both services have something to offer users. It's up to the user to determine what is best for their website. As PaaS (Platform as a Service, a computing platform and stack as a service, like Azure) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service, space on a machine — virtual or otherwise — and resources, like Rackspace) are different types of cloud computing models, it's impossible to say that one is better than the other. However, as most people will compare the two against each other, it becomes necessary.

Which cloud solution do you rely on?

Porticor: Making The Cloud A Little Safer For Healthcare


porticor cloud securityWe've touched on cloud security risks here on the Ananova blog in the past. In case you missed any of the articles, here's a quick fact: cloud hosting is just as risky as traditional hosting. While it may seem as if it is more vulnerable to hacker attacks, that is just simply not true. It's all in the way you store your data, and the strength of the password that protects it.

When you turn to cloud hosting for the healthcare industry, it becomes even more important to follow best practices. You don't want the medical records, social security numbers, imaging files like x-rays and MRIs, and other confidential data to be compromised!

Porticor: Security Is Key

How do you safely manage and store all of this data while minimizing the risk of a security breach? Probably the single most important step you can take in order to ensure security: encryption. This is a no-brainer. The key lies in how you encrypt that information.

You need to keep patient data safe, while at the same time maintaining regulatory compliance. That means you need to think long and hard on your strategy regarding encryption keys. Typical methods don't really apply with cloud hosting — you are trying to cut out the data center, so making your ISP the key holder isn't going to work here.

Porticor: What Works

One idea is split-key encryption, a method normally used to encrypt smaller files. Porticor is a company that revamped the process to make it faster than before, allowing it to be used for larger files like you would find in a healthcare database.

Porticor: How Does It Work?

Let's use a doctor as an example. The doctor enters data into the system, which is encrypted, and the key to access that data is split into two. The doctor is the owner of the “master key,” the first half. The second half heads to the Porticor Key Management Service for future use.

The master key is the doctor's, protected by homomorphic encryption. With this method, the master key is encrypted at all times. Not just in the cloud, but even when it's being used. What's more, each time you use the key, it is encrypted in a new way. That means that even if someone hacks in and steals the master key, it is useless. It cannot be used to access any patient files.

If that doctor wants to allow, say, the hospital access to his files, he can create a key for the hospital, which will also be split into two. The hosting provider cannot access this information at all, just the doctor and whomever he grants a key to.

This isn't a new technique used to encrypt data, but has been historically slow and not something a business would think to rely on when data must be obtained quickly. Porticor has found a way to make this a much faster process, allowing any industry to quickly access their records in highly secure fashion.

Do you think this is a positive advancement in the healthcare industry, or do you still have doubts it is secure enough to store such sensitive data in the cloud?

Healthcare a highly regulated industry

Healthcare software-as-a-service (SaaS) products

The primary concern for a hospital with cloud-based applications include:

  • Privacy
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Cloud Security

ShareFile Security Stacks secure alternative to Dropbox

ShareFile Security Stacks Up to Dropbox

ShareFile Security Stacks

Where there's room for error, there's room for competition. That's what's been happening in the file sharing realm lately, at least. When Dropbox reported that thousands of user passwords had been compromised a few months ago, Dropbox users began to look elsewhere – and just as those users were looking for alternatives, companies with better options pounced.

Enter ShareFile by Citrix.

ShareFile makes no qualms about being a direct Dropbox competitor. ShareFile claims to be a more secure alternative to Dropbox, and the site has also gained a lot of traction with all kinds of users. When you sign up for a free ShareFile account, here's what you get.

Citrix ShareFile Plan For $29.95/Month

  • 256-bit SSL encryption on all shared files
  • Mashed passwords that ShareFile does not have access to
  • Unlimited client users
  • Telephone and email support
  • 5GB of storage

Citrix ShareFile Plan For $59.95/Month

  • 10GB of storage
  • Unlimited clients
  • Custom branding
  • Encrypted transfers
  • Email and phone support
  • Outlook plugin
  • Desktop sync

Citrix ShareFile Plan For $99.95/Month

  • 20GB of storage
  • Encrypted file sharing
  • Email and phone support
  • Outlook plugin
  • Desktop sync
  • Enterprise synch

More Options For Fileshare

ShareFile notes that you can contact the company to set up an Enterprise account that would provide you with more storage options, but most small businesses and startups are going to go for the basic $29.95 option, right? Well, let's compare that option to Dropbox.

A Closer Look at Dropbox ShareFile Plan $29.95 Option

Dropbox provides users with 2GB of free storage. After that, you have to pay $9.95 per month for 100, 200, or 500 GB. From there, you can move up to 1TB for business purposes (inquire with Dropbox for rates). I also want to point out that Google Drive provides you with 5GB of storage for free. But what about security?

ShareFile's claim is that this sharing service is more secure than Dropbox. How accurate is that claim? You get a  256-bit SSL encryption with ShareFile. Dropbox provides you with the same security. The difference is that Dropbox holds the keys while ShareFile (presumably?) does not. That might be a more secure feature when you think about it, but that $29.95 per month is really hard to swallow.

Is It Worth It?

If you're running a startup with a small budget, forking over $29.95 per month for a file sharing service is a lot of coin. There's always the chance that Dropbox might have a security breach again, but, hey, there's also a chance that ShareFile might go through a hack too. Really, Dropbox didn't have any issues until it did, and that means that ShareFile can have the same problem in the long run.

So, in my opinion, forking over $29.95 for ShareFile seems excessive. But, then again, maybe there are some ShareFile users out there that will, and can, prove me wrong. How about it? Do you use ShareFile? Have you had a good or bad experience? Let me know below!

Why the Cloud Isn’t Sliced Bread

Cloud Isn't Sliced Bread

Cloud Isn't Sliced BreadThere's no shortage of positive information about cloud storage. But, few sites will tell you why you shouldn't go the cloud route. The fact is that cloud storage might not be for everyone. There are some good reasons why cloud might not be for you. Take a look.

Why the Cloud May Not Work For You

  1. No encryption security. Sure, that cloud provider might tell you that your information is safe, but let's break down that claim. The fact is that information stored in the cloud is never really secure. Just take a look at all of the NSA news happening right now. You never know who is going to be accessing your data.
  2. You may not be able to move data. Are you sure you can move that file to the cloud? Sure, sure? If you aren't sure, don't do it.
  3. You might not have control. If you are going to go with a cloud provider, make sure that you have absolute control over all your cloud files. Who has that encryption key? You or the provider?
  4. Things can go wrong. We're talking about the Internet here, folks. Not some kind of mystical cloud where everything goes right and problems are all solved. The cloud goes down, data is lost, and things get messed up.
  5. Do you know what you're paying for? Can you be certain that the you're really getting the cloud storage you are paying for? It can be hard to tell.

The Black Cloud

Even clouds have black linings, sometimes. As the cloud industry heats up and even governments go cloud, there's bound to be heavy competition. Where there's competition and lots of files, there's also bound to be plenty of people trying to take down those clouds. In short, the number one thing that you have to think about when it comes to the cloud is security. Don't take security lightly, either.

You may not care that people can access your data – you may even have the kind of data that nobody will want to access – but you should care about who is tapping into your cloud. If someone other than you has access to your files, you are taking a risk.

Cloud Isn't Sliced Bread: Questions?

It's perfectly normal to have questions related to the cloud, so please ask us. We'd rather have you ask us a million questions about cloud security and cloud storage than have you face a major problem when you move to the cloud. Sure, the cloud can help you save some cash and it can be a great thing, but the cloud is – honestly – not for everyone.

Got a cloud story? Questions? Comments? Ask!

What’s A Private Cloud?

private cloudEvery business magazine this month seems to have picked up on one buzzword: private cloud. Wondering what a private cloud is? You aren't alone. This is one buzzword that has gotten a lot of press, but it's still something that most people don't understand. Here's a closer look at the private cloud idea.

Keep Out

Technically, a private cloud is a cloud that is set up behind a firewall. The firewall is what makes these types of clouds private. In addition, a limited number of people usually have access to a private cloud, and that keeps the cloud even more secure. But, off the record, it is really just a buzzword.

You see, the clever marketing community devised the term ‘private cloud' to help people think that these cloud options are safer than other cloud options. Are they? Maybe not. Why? True private clouds are hard to come by, and most people that think they are paying for a private cloud are not. Okay, so what do you do if you like the actual concept of a private cloud?

Where to Find Truly Private Clouds

First, find reliable private cloud options. These companies should have a proven track record, but, more importantly, they should have a history of not getting involved in clouds too often. That's right – a cloud company should not have to mess with your cloud regularly. Why? A cloud should basically run by itself.

If a company has to bother with cloud problems on a regular basis, you may not be dealing with private cloud options. You also won't get the cost-saving benefits of moving to the cloud, so the move would be kind of pointless.

Second, make sure the company explains to you what a cloud (private) really is. If you get a customer service rep that can't explain it all – move on.

Lastly, know that many companies just use this buzzword to sell you something that only resembles a private cloud. Be on your guard, and look for a cloud company that has many good references. It's not easy finding a truly private cloud, but this type of cloud can be good for your company when you do find it.

One Last Note

You company should only have one private cloud. Just one. Not more than one. Private cloud should be, well, private, but they are tricky things to understand. If you are going to go the private cloud route, do your homework. It's a nice idea to think that your private cloud will be safe and protective, but that might just be a story that some marketing firm has sold you if you aren't careful. Data safety and performance are top concerns, which motivates businesses to use private clouds.

Need help finding a private cloud? We're here to answer your questions.