Overhauling the Storage Budget with Cloud Storage
Considering the budget resources data storage takes in most companies, it’s not surprising that IT executives are wondering if the cloud can help them manage their storage budgets more effectively. The assumption is that enterprise cloud storage can provide pay-as-you-grow economics for storage - something that has never existed - but first there needs to be an enabling technology that that works reliably and can do the job.
StorSimple's Cloud-integrated Storage (CiS) has been helping customers do this for over a year now and proven it's mettle working in the data centers of large enterprises. CiS on-premises SAN storage exports iSCSI LUNs to servers and connects on the back, or device, side to enterprise cloud storage for storing snapshot, backup, archive and unstructured, dormant data. CiS is a hybrid SAN array having flash SSDs and hard disk layers but it adds a third slower, higher-latency enterprise cloud storage storage layer. It’s 3-tier design is perfectly matched for managing the masses of unstructured data that IT workers wrestle with.
Metadata is packaged with application data in a CiS system, forming data objects that have embedded location and usage information. As data is written by applications, it's put in the top SSD tier and as it ages and it's access frequency drops, it gets moved to the hard disk tier. As it further ages and its access frequency goes dormant, the data becomes a candidate for storing in cloud online storage. When the CiS system meets pre-determined capacity levels, the system initiates cloud transfers to put inactive data in enterprise cloud storage. The on-premises capacity that was used by the data is returned to the system and is available to be used again.
Recapturing on-premises storage capacity by using the cloud is one of the Holy Grails of enterprise storage management because it also moves capital budget funds to the operating budget. Capacity upgrades with enterprise cloud storage are small incremental purchases, as compared to the capital-stretching upgrades with traditional enterprsie arrays where customers have to buy capacity in advance.
Both SAN and NAS storage capacity can be shifted to CiS and enterprise cloud storage. With NAS, customers move their existing NAS file shares or volumes to a file server connected to a CiS system. As the CiS system fills, unstructured, dormant data on it is tiered to the cloud. With SAN, administrators can use Storage vMotion or manual means to move volumes to the CiS system. The figure below shows this process.
A CiS system offloads inactive data and tiers it to the cloud
Managing storage capacity by moving data to CiS and enterprise cloud storage helps IT managers avoid volume-full emergencies and VM sprawl scenarios. Instead of being crisis-driven, they have a systematic method for managing storage capacity. CiS and enterprise cloud storage give storage administrators the capacity headroom they've always wanted.
The capacity efficiencies of CiS begin on-premises by de-duplicating and compressing data in the system and these efficiences also carry over to cloud storage. Data reduction effectiveness depend on the data, but customers using CiS in virtual server environments can expect reduction ratios from 3x to 5x. Notice that this ratio is for primary storage, not backups.
The bottom line is that StorSimple CiS customers are able to avoid buying more expensive storage capacity than they would have otherwise. Not only that, but because data protection through CloudSnap™ is integrated with CiS, they also don't buy additional backup hardware and software to cover the added capacity. It's a big win for many of them.