There are many vendors selling on-premises, hybrid and cloud-only storage solutions, of course. But not all of them are created equal and different organizations have different storage needs, so it’s important that everybody ask the right questions to determine which vendor has the optimal solution for them, according to Eric Dey, Caringo product manager for cloud storage infrastructure.
“In the beginning, there was only on-premises hosting” of an organization’s storage – either all of it “on your own site” or some of it co-located, but each organization set up the storage solution and managed everything on their own, he said Oct. 11 in a webinar that touted the benefits of Caringo Swarm Hybrid Cloud for Microsoft Azure.
However, public cloud solutions, including those of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, have “matured very quickly” in the last few years, he said. Small to large companies like Netflix have opted to become “pure cloud,” and “this is a choice that is available to everyone, but it’s not always right for everyone,” he noted.
Some companies have opted for of their applications and all their storage to be handled entirely off-site in a managed cloud provider’s infrastructure, he said. For small companies, that can make a lot of sense because it represents only a “small amount of capital outlay,” but some of them “outgrow it at some point,” he said.
A lot of companies, however, are “still running completely on their own infrastructure” for reasons that include it being “easier for them to manage” that way, they don’t have the expertise in-house to use services in the cloud, or for compliance purposes, he said, pointing out that companies with strict regulatory constraints find it easier to run on-site than via a public cloud. Regulations are changing, so we “could see that erode over time,” but companies in that environment tend to change more slowly, he said.
A hybrid storage solution, meanwhile, is “where a lot of companies really want to be, which is somewhere in the middle,” he went on to say, noting that a hybrid solution is a “blend” of on-premises applications and storage with services provided by a cloud provider. He called this the “best of both worlds.”
Use cases for copying data to the cloud include data protection (off-site backup and part of a disaster recovery plan) and data archival, he said. Of the latter, he noted, organizations often feel they need to keep a lot of data even though they never plan to use it.
Bandwidth matters as well when selecting a storage solution, according to Dey. “The elephant in the room” when it comes to sending backup data to the cloud is “how much bandwidth can you spare?” he said. That’s because, at 100 Mbps, it could take more than six months to send 100 TB of data over the Internet, he said.
Scale-out considerations, meanwhile, include storage costs, he said, adding: “We typically think of storage in the cloud as cheap,” but not everybody’s definition of cheap is the same.
In the end, the most important question for an organization to consider, he said, may be: “Does your storage provider encumber you or empower you to make use of your date once it’s up in the public cloud?”
For one thing, he said, it’s important for the storage provider to offer multiple input and output protocols. That way, “applications that know how to use file-based constructs are able to read and write data and share it with applications that are able to use object storage constructs,” he said, adding this advice: “Let applications that know how to use object constructs use the data put in through file constructs, and vice versa. Don’t create silos inside of the storage system by which data [that comes] in through one protocol is only ever usable through that one protocol.”