Enabling corporate cloud storage

By Brad Newton*
Wednesday, 07 July, 2010

Innovations in cloud storage services are causing a growing number of enterprises to take notice. After all, keeping up with data growth using the traditional storage model is fast becoming a challenge. Compounding this issue are the challenges of supporting a growing number of critical applications as well as rich media types while also meeting demanding service level requirements within strict budget constraints.

We’ve found through our experience and research that organisations are trying to sort through the hype and decide the best way to implement a cloud storage strategy. Top of mind for most organisations is deciding on which sort of strategy will work the best for them: public, private or hybrid cloud implementations.

Many IT professionals are concerned about implementing strategies without fully understanding the value of cloud storage. This causes hesitation to move forward with any form of cloud storage. However, the traditional storage deployment is often fragmented, difficult to scale, and costly to implement and manage. IT must find a more viable way to consolidate and manage imposing amounts of data while also maintaining performance levels.

Today, organisations have a compelling new option. More and more organisations are leveraging a clustered storage platform that enables enterprise-class private cloud services. These services benefit companies by standardising the enterprise while providing data protection, data improvement, antivirus and other security. This innovative infrastructure gives enterprises a scalable, high-performance, cost-effective solution for meeting their changing storage objectives.

Build to scale

Information continues to grow at unprecedented rates. IT managers, in turn, must be able to store, deliver and manage these ever-expanding volumes of content, particularly unstructured data such as multimedia files, business applications and web pages.

Yet, accommodating such growth using the traditional storage model is difficult. Once the limit on storage is reached, a new system must be installed with a new file system to manage.

In order to address this pressing issue, enterprises are taking advantage of today’s new, scalable storage infrastructures that can rapidly adjust to changes in storage needs. These platforms can support petabytes of storage and hundreds of millions of files. Because the cloud storage services platform allows enterprises to scale storage and processing independently and seamlessly online, it represents a flexible alternative to traditional, more monolithic storage architectures.

Enterprise-class performance

In addition to accommodating increasing amounts of data, IT managers must also be able to manage growing volumes of critical applications with highly demanding workloads, such as those generated by software for geospacial exploration, medical imaging, electronic medical records and the like.

With a traditional storage model, addressing increased performance demands requires the addition of storage racks and more spindles. While this reduces latency, it also reduces storage utilisation.

A cloud storage services platform gives organisations an enterprise-class storage environment - one that is available 24/7 and delivers near-linear performance as nodes are added. The platform addresses availability through N-way clustering for either active-active or active-passive configurations, and ensures that the workload is quickly and easily redistributed across the cluster in the event of multiple node failures. As a result, organisations enjoy always-on file services.

Reduced costs

While scalability and performance are priorities for enterprise-class cloud storage services, budget demands must also be addressed. IT managers must be able to manage increasing volumes of data and critical applications without breaking the bank. A cloud storage services platform gives IT managers significant cost savings by:

  • Supporting virtually any major storage array system. This gives IT the freedom to select their vendor of choice, and allows them to use the management tools with which they are already familiar, thus eliminating the need for costly training on new systems and devices.
  • Enabling IT to group storage assets into fewer, large shared pools, thereby increasing backend storage utilisation.
  • Allowing enterprises to pay as their needs grow with a scalable cloud storage solution.

In addition, whereas traditional network attached storage (NAS) often includes many independent islands of storage, a cloud storage services platform offers fewer, consolidated pools that can be spanned across multiple clusters, which means there are fewer NAS relationships to manage, reducing ongoing operation costs.

Finally, the efficiency with which a cloud storage services platform is implemented also results in significant cost savings. The platform is typically delivered as a clustered software NAS appliance with automated deployment and configuration capabilities; some of these solutions also include enterprise-class data backup and endpoint security protection. As a result, deploying the cloud storage services platform is quick.

Enabling the cloud

As more and more enterprises consider ways to improve storage efficiency and reduce management complexity of their growing environments, they are looking to leverage storage architecture designs that follow a new model. In evaluating options, enterprise storage managers must consider the scalability, availability, performance and cost of a platform that can provide an enterprise-class foundation for their file-based storage services.

*Brad Newton, Director of Enterprise Sales at Symantec Australia and New Zealand

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