Would it be off the mark to say that no other technology has been as disruptive as the cloud? From the information age, it is the cloud that has led us into the age of participation where we are able to connect to the Internet and do anything. The cloud has essentially changed the storage industry on its head and has taken away the hardware and infrastructure burdens that organizations had to bear. The cloud too, in its very short journey, has evolved phenomenally. From private to public and then hybrid models, it seemed that we had seen the last of the cloud’s evolutionary cycle with Cloud Integrated Storage.
What is Cloud Integrated Storage?
Cloud Integrated Storage (CIS) can be defined as a storage-area network (SAN), network-attached storage (NAS) or unified storage system that tiers and/or caches data to a cloud storage and treats the cloud storage as if it was part of the local storage system making the cloud data appear to be local. CIS systems use on-premise storage in conjunction with cloud storage. The most active data is tiered and/or cached to the local storage for fast access while the passive data utilizes cloud based storage. CIS systems have the look and feel of a primary storage system and have the capability to deliver storage pooling, thin provisioning, data reduction, redirect-on-write snapshots. CIS can also perform like a traditional primary mid-tier storage system or a hybrid storage system that constitutes of a mix of solid-state drives and hard disk drives.
Difference between Hybrid Cloud Storage and Cloud Integrated Storage
Given the ever expanding cloud storage terminologies, it can be quite easy to confuse Cloud Integrated Storage with Hybrid Cloud Storage. After all, hybrid cloud storage also integrates on-premises storage with cloud storage. Though the basics of both these storage systems sound quite familiar, the main difference between the two lies in how they leverage the cloud. The hybrid cloud takes advantage of the cloud as a storage tier where applications or hardware systems are stored in tiers and data sets are moved between these tiers according to organizational demand. All the data that needs to be retained by the organizations but does not require high access, or cloud-based applications that need to live close to the data sets to ensure high-performance leverage the hybrid cloud as a backup tier.
While the hybrid cloud is a step forward for organizations to mitigate the private v/s public cloud challenge, it does not provide a truly integrated experience that organizations require. Since organizations today have to deal with workload data that does not render itself to separation and need greater harmony between active and inactive data so that it can be accessed in multiple ways, they need to have the computing capacity of the cloud built into their local storage. This is what Cloud Integrated Storage provides by making the cloud a part of the entire storage network. Here, the active data is automatically cached in the local hardware while the inactive data is archived in the cloud. This gives organizations the power of immense capacity scalability without having to worry about hardware requirements.
Another difference between Hybrid Cloud and Cloud Integrated Storage is their caching mechanisms. In the hybrid cloud, organizations do get the benefit of automatic caching but this demands complex policy configurations. However, Cloud Integrated Storage offers automatic caching capabilities by using caching algorithms that ensure that all passive data (which amounts to almost 90% of all organizational data), archives and backups are stored in the cloud giving organizations the capability to represent terabytes to petabytes of the cloud storage capacity as local data.
When should you opt for Cloud Integrated Storage?
Clearly, not all cloud options are created equal. The question then is, when should organizations use Cloud Integrated Storage? Here are the most common scenarios
Organizations looking to reduce the storage costs of passive or rarely accessed data
Organizations in need of high scalability without continuous investments in hardware upgrades or management
Organizations that want the flexibility of the public cloud, want data deduplication and data compressing capabilities and need to automatically move the data to the cloud without using a data mover
Organizations that shift and cache large data sets and need configurable policies and ability to move data automatically from faster to slower storage as it transitions between active or passive states
Organizations that need content distribution to geographically dispersed sites without data replication
Organizations that need strong disaster recovery capabilities without high impact on storage utilization
Organizations that need one or more cloud storage repository into the data center but want cost effectiveness as well
Cloud Integrated Storage and Cost Saving
Along with the above-mentioned capabilities, Cloud Integrated Storage provides the tangible benefits of reduced costs. But, isn’t the cloud is by itself designed to reduce costs? The cost benefit of cloud storage comes not just from the annual cost of the SAN or NAS server but also from the functionality it offers. Given the growing volume of enterprise data, organizations need more storage, easier data transfers, and greater accessibility.
Here are a few ways in which Cloud Integrated Storage helps in reducing storage costs.
Cloud Integrated Storage provides out-of-the-box integration with cloud storage providers, back up snapshots, block and file storage, local data cache that improves performance without additional hardware costs
Cloud Integrated Storage does not require a physical storage infrastructure – saving manpower and energy requirements
CIS gives organizations the capability to scale up or scale down storage to any extent according to their business needs – without any additional investment
Reduced investment in hardware management when data volumes increase
A Pay-Per-Use model allows organizations to only pay for what they have used
The distributed enterprises of today need data storage capabilities – They need their data to be stored away from the hardware to the cloud in a manner such that it can be easily accessed and also does not have any capacity limits. Cloud Integrated Storage allows for simultaneous multiple access from anywhere across the globe and helps in greater collaboration by creating global file systems and helps organizations deliver greater value and also makes the data center leaner. While these benefits are just the tip of the iceberg, these few reasons make Cloud Integrated Storage a boon and a critical enabler of the distributed enterprise of today. Look out for another blog where we will take a deep dive to unearth how the use of Cloud Integrated Storage in the distributed enterprise is a match made in heaven.