But the question is, what is the easiest, least disruptive and most cost-effective way to take advantage of the falling prices of cloud storage? Is now the time for storage-as-a-service?
Most cloud service providers (CSPs) require the use of RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs), like Amazon’s S3, to interface with their storage resources. This typically means that existing business applications have to be re-coded with the providers supported API sets to allow direct communication between on premises application servers and the storage residing in a public cloud facility. Clearly this can be a big effort if an organization has dozens or hundreds of applications to re-program.
Aside from re-coding existing applications, however, many organizations are concerned about storage performance, data protection and security in the cloud. First, they may not have the telecommunications infrastructure between their data center and the CSP facility, to support the rapid storage IO transfers needed to support critical business applications. Then there is the question of data protection. How is business data reliably protected in the cloud? Lastly, if IT organizations are going to entrust the security of their business data with cloud providers, how stringent are there data security protocols?
Naturally, most organizations want to implement solutions that are the least disruptive to their ongoing business operations. Moreover, any offering that wraps itself in the “as-a-service” mantle, should be as close to “plug-and-play” as possible. In other words – utility like. Think of cable TV. A technician shows up to your house, drops an
appliance next to your widescreen TV and within an hour or two, you have access to a broad range of channels. You then can choose between basic or premium channels based on your viewing habits, etc. In much the same way, businesses need to simplify their consumption and management of enterprise cloud storage.
For example, if it was possible to simply drop in a 2U appliance into an existing datacenter rack and have the ability to seamlessly access cloud storage within a matter of hours, this might be an interesting way for businesses to start leveraging storage-as-a-service. Ideally, the appliance would contain all the necessary intelligence to interface with existing applications while providing the API translations required to connect with cloud storage resources; eliminating the need to re-program those applications.
Cost-Effective Cloud Storage
Additionally, if the appliance provided an efficient layer of cache storage to satisfy the need for rapid access to hot data sets, this would address concerns about local storage performance. Essentially, the appliance would serve up access to the most active data sets to local applications, while protecting active and inactive data in the cloud. In this manner, low-cost cloud storage could be leveraged cost-effectively to store multiple point-in-time snapshots of data to support business Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs). Furthermore, through data deduplication and compression, the appliance could efficiently migrate data into the cloud without requiring an upgrade in telecommunications infrastructure.
Finally, by utilizing hardened encryption to secure data in flight and data at rest and most importantly, giving control over the encryption keys to the IT administration team, businesses could feel secure about storing their data offsite in a providers facility.
These are all important considerations that enterprise data centers may want to take into account when looking towards the cloud for lower storage costs and enhanced backup and DR capabilities. Because as Storage Switzerland recently discussed in their recent article, “Why Storage-as-a-Service Is The Future Of IT”, the value proposition for implementing storage-as-as-a-service may simply be too compelling for businesses to pass up.
Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are growing at an incredible rate. See how they compare in the 2015 State of Cloud Storage infographic.