Hybrid Storage Clouds, not a question of “IF” – rather a matter of “WHEN”
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After hundreds of discussions with clients and partners of all sizes, I have come to the realization that any IT department of any reasonable size (you can decide what a ‘reasonable size’ actually means) will, over time, leverage both private and public cloud storage resources. What that means is, systems and applications that utilize storage, will be serviced by both on premise (private) physical storage infrastructure as well as virtual capacity via a public service, hence – Hybrid.
Now, there will be many different levels of usage of both private and public cloud services. Some IT teams will have a 90% private / 10% public usage ratio (90/10), others will have the exact opposite (10/90), and the rest in between. While the level of implementation of public vs private will vary, the fact still remains…the environment is mixed (i.e. Hybrid).
If we agree on the premise that all IT departments will leverage hybrid cloud implementations, understanding storage cloud fundamentals is essential. While the design and underlying architectures of all hybrid clouds are very similar (self service, elastic in nature, extreme scalability, multi-tenant, etc.), storage clouds have their own set of considerations. Data that is stored MUST:
1. be isolated in such a manner that ensures no un-authorized access
2. protected and preserved for recovery in the case of a disaster
3. tiered in order to optimize the accessibility of the data in relation to the cost to store it
In addition to these characteristics, the technical nuances of storage can cause quite a headache when considering the storage cloud implementation. What protocols need to be considered? Block based (SCSI), file based (FTP, NFS, CIFS), HTTP based, …..? What type(s) of storage do I already have or will need in the future? Direct attached, SAN, NAS, …..? The complexities of all this seems to be a bit overwhelming, but it’s really not. There are many capabilities that exist in the market already today, that help you ‘eat the elephant one bit at a time’. What I mean by that is, look at what the closest opportunity is to drive up efficiency or lower cost and focus. If your running out of on-premise storage hardware, look at a pure storage cloud. Long term data protection an issue?… look at moving your back-ups and archives to the cloud. Solve that one specific issue, and build upon your success.
I will assert that an even bigger consideration when evaluating the public cloud offering providers that will be part of your hybrid IT systems than the technologies they provide or support, is the long term viability and proven track record of the company itself. Remember, your essentially outsourcing pieces of your current private IT department and you must do your homework on the companies that your looking to utilize. If YOU make the decision to go with a provider that has not proven itself over the long term, and they go out of business, or have a breach in security, or get bought out by an ‘un-friendly’, or continually miss their SLA they have with you, who do you think your boss will look to for answers? (hold up a mirror here). My point here is simple, do a little homework and trust the company you decide to partner with in providing the public cloud services you choose to ‘outsource’.As is true with all new IT models, there are pros and cons. All data is NOT created equal and therefore the business needs associated with the various data types being stored can significantly help you decide how to best implement YOUR hybrid storage cloud given the pros and cons. Whether your end state of hybrid cloud implementation is 90/10 or 10/90, start slow. Experiment, learn, adjust, and experiment again. Over time, you will get a feel for what level of private and public storage cloud implementation is right for YOUR business and IT maturity levels, but rest assured, it will be a hybrid in nature!