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Mysterio and the Illusions of Cheap Hyperscale Public Cloud Providers

Jul 31, 2019, 19:38 PM by Alex Simons

Hyperscale Public Cloud Providers

GIF: Marvel

Warning: This article is loaded with Spiderman: Far From Home* Spoilers. If you have not seen the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just contact KeepItSafe, and we’ll review your cloud data protection strategy spoiler-free.

An intergalactic warrior sent from a different dimension to save our universe from elementals.

Pretty believable right?

A hyperscale public cloud provider that can deploy secure data protection solutions for pennies on the dollar?

Sounds like another one of Mysterio’s tricks!

If you still haven’t seen Spiderman: Far From Home (major spoiler ahead), the supervillain is an illusionist named Mysterio. The character initially presents himself as a hero from another dimension of earth; here to defeat elemental monsters that are threatening our dimension of earth.

But here’s the thing. Those evil elementals, and the battles themselves, are just a series of illusions powered by discontinued Stark holographic technology. Everything is contrived, staged, digitized, and projected in 3D videos for the whole world to see.

So how does everybody fall for this trick, including Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D, and Peter Parker? It’s because the damage itself is real. Mysterio employs a team of evil technicians and illusionists to generate electromagnetic pulses and real explosions that collapse buildings, roads, and bridges.

How does any of this relate to data protection?

Well – the “drone powered elementals” probably deleted zettabytes of data throughout their wake of destruction. So hopefully the fictitious businesses in the MCU implemented comprehensive business continuity plans.

But as the title of this article suggests, cheap hyperscale public cloud providers utilize similar confusion tactics as Mysterio to gaslight their audience into a sub-optimal data protection strategy.

Let’s analyze how the two relate.

The Upfront Storage Costs are an Illusion

Mysterio’s 3D stunts grab your attention like the initial price-per-gig storage proposals of a hyperscaler.

Unfortunately, many businesses never examine or understand the fine print – just as no one (except Spider-Man) looked close enough to realize that Mysterio’s heroic acts were fabricated.

But if you read through the Ts&Cs, you’ll often find that the initial price point is just smoke and mirrors – like a bunch of drones flying around disguised as elemental monsters. The truth is hidden behind the illusion.

Let’s explore some of these hidden realities.

Hidden Reality #1: Compounding Storage Requirements:

According to recent IDC study, the amount of data a business generates doubles every 18 months [1]. So as your backups grow, so does your bill.

Entry-level cloud storage costs measured in pennies-per-gig may seem like the most affordable option to keep up with exponential data growth. But compression ratios for hyperscale public clouds are notoriously horrible. So if you need to retain multiple copies of your data for a redundant solution, change rates will fluctuate greatly, and your consumption will skyrocket.

If you struggle like most IT departments to forecast “Inter-Region Data Transfers”, “Elastic IP Data Transfers”, and “VPC Peering Data Transfers” – maybe consider a simpler pricing model with these variables included so you don’t have to forecast your monthly bill.

Data Growth

Source: United Nations Economic Commission

Hidden Reality #2: Provisioning & Administrative Costs

Cloud provisioning is the allocation of resources and services from a provider. The cloud provisioning process can use different delivery models depending on the requirements of the data protection solution.

The complexities involved with configuring a hyperscale public cloud solution often lead to hidden costs within one of the two categories below:

  • Over-Provisioning: IT admins tend to overestimate the requirements for their systems and applications. Hyperscalers take advantage of this mentality by enabling admins to increase capacity and max out virtual resources with a few clicks. The end result is usually an over-inflated cloud – like the “wind elemental” Spider-Man defeats in the final battle against Mysterio.
  • Under-Provisioning: Due to compounding data growth, protected capacity often exceeds what was allocated upon purchase. The end result is either sub-optimal solution or somebody asking for more money than what was initially allocated.

Provisioning a cloud-based data protection solution requires time, IT resources, and expertise. Look for a service offering that can automate some of these industry best practices and put some time back in your calendar.

Cloud Waste Graphic

Source: RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Report

Hidden Reality #3: Network Egress

A hyperscale public cloud provider will allow you to send up your data onto their network for free. That’s called network ingress. Cloud egress describes the movement of data originating within a cloud network and transferring to another geography, external cloud, or back to an on-prem environment. Data egress is a regular part of cloud backup and everyday business.

Hyperscale public cloud providers charge network fees to move your data out of their cloud to another location. Not only do these egress fees add up quickly, but they help the provider achieve vendor lock-in due to the high egress fees required to move compounding data volumes out of their environment.

Only in Mysterio’s “alternate universe” would somebody pay to access their own data. Consider the costs of data retrieval, testing, and migration to a different cloud when configuring your data protection solution.

Public Cloud Challenges

Source: Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study

Hidden Reality #4: Regulatory Compliance

Federal industry laws vary widely and there is no universal rule for data retention periods. But when you factor in version controls and strenuous requirements for long-term archiving, your invoice starts to look more like a cable bill.

AWS S3 server misconfigurations have also stolen headlines in recent memory. These are just a few of the high-profile S3 security breaches with strict compliance repercussions:

The goal of this article isn’t to demonize AWS (I use QuickSight) or the organizations embarrassed by the misconfigurations. These errors are easy to make. So it’s important to understand the security implications and how they relate to compliance mandates.

Regulatory Compliance

Hidden Reality #5: Total Cost of Ownership

The total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) is the sum of all direct and indirect costs required to develop, maintain, and support the cloud application. For a cloud-based data protection solution, common costs include:

  • Software Licensing
  • Startup Costs
  • Implementation
  • Administrative Support
  • On-Going Maintenance

The TCO equation to quantify the business value of hyperscale cloud data protection solutions depends on a confusing array of variables.

Many hyperscalers leverage the confusing subject matter to bombard prospects with terms that make it nearly impossible to understand which services are necessary, which are synonymous with others, and which are really just meaningless and made-up phrases.

As a world-class illusionist and master manipulator, Mysterio capitalizes on similar confusion methodology. His dazzling special efforts and elaborate buzzwords like “level four symmetry” and “earth dimension 616” distract from the fact that he’s just a normal guy with no superpowers. Just as many hyperscale public cloud solutions are nothing more than a chunk of cold storage.

Hyperscale Public Cloud

A Data Backup Rule of “Thumb”

Oh, and here’s one final data-backup takeaway from the movie.

When they realize they’ve been found out and that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are closing in on their secret evil hideout, Mysterio and his team destroy all of their computers and servers, and they back up everything on a thumb drive.

Really — a single thumb drive?

Which means that the brilliant Mysterio, who must have spent tens of millions of dollars orchestrating this global scam, didn’t have a cloud backup solution to protect any of it.

And Mysterio loses in the end. We’re not saying he was defeated by Spider-Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. because he failed to back up his data. But hey, who knows?

All we’re saying is, don’t be like Mysterio.

Have a comprehensive backup strategy.

* KeepItSafe is not affiliated with or endorsed by Marvel Entertainment, LLC, or the Walt Disney Company.
[1] Prigge, Matt. “How to Survive the Data Explosion.” InfoWorld, InfoWorld, 22 Aug. 2014,  

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