Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Ed Featherston, Rostyslav Demush, Jamie Madison, Jason Bloomberg, Greg Pierce

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

What Makes Cloud Storage Different from Traditional SAN and NAS?

Primary, Secondary, and Tiered Storage

Many in the IT industry seem to enjoy arguing exactly what does and does not constitute a cloud service. As I mentioned in my post on the controversy over private cloud services, I do not feel that these arguments are productive. We should focus on results and business value instead of arguing about semantics. However, the current crop of cloud storage solutions have many important differences from traditional SAN and NAS storage, something that seems to surprise many end users I meet. Cloud storage capacity is not your fathers blocks and files!

Primary, Secondary, and Tiered Storage

Most IT infrastructures contain a wide variety of storage devices, but these have traditionally been divided into two categories:

  1. Primary or production storage serves active applications and is accessed randomly. The primary category includes most familiar direct-attached disks (DAS), storage area networks (SAN), and network-attached storage (NAS). Newcomers in the primary category include content-addressable storage (CAS) and cloud storage services, including the Nirvanix Cloud Storage Service.
  2. Secondary storage is used for data protection and is normally accessed sequentially. Tape media and optical discs were the traditional secondary storage types, but disk-based systems including virtual tape libraries (VTL) have recently become popular. CAS and cloud systems are also often used for secondary storage due to their lower cost.

The performance and capability of primary storage systems varies greatly, as does the price. For this reason, many large organizations classify their primary storage into a number of tiers. Tier 1 storage typically boasts the highest performance, reliability, and cost. Fibre Channel SAN arrays from companies like EMC, HDS, and IBM have dominated this market for over a decade. Most organizations also offer less expensive lower-tier SAN, NAS, and DAS capacity in an effort to reduce their capital equipment cost.

Primary Storage Options

IT architects are faced with a dizzying variety of primary storage options. Dozens of companies build and sell storage devices, and these leverage a variety of connectivity protocols. Each type of storage presents a trade-off in a number of areas, from performance to cost. There is no intrinsic reason to reject one type or adopt another - the selection process must take into account the technical and business requirements of the application that will use it.

DASSANNASCASCloud
Example Seagate disk
Dell PowerVault
HDS USP
3PAR InServ
NetApp Filer
Windows server
EMC Centera
Caringo CAStor
Nirvanix
Amazon S3
EMC Atmos
Protocol SATA, SAS FC, iSCSI SMB, NFS API, XAM API
Access Method block block file/directory object

object/
metadata

Connectivity Copper cable Fiber optic
Ethernet
Ethernet Ethernet Ethernet
Internet
Throughput 1.5 Gb/s-
3.0 Gb/s
1 Gb/s-
10 Gb/s
100 Mb/s-
10 Gb/s
100 Mb/s-
1 Gb/s
1.5 Mb/s-
1 Gb/s
Latency 5-10 ms 5-10 ms 20-50 ms 50-100 ms 100-500 ms
Use case Bulk storage
OS/boot
Enterprise applications Unstructured data Archival data Offsite storage
Collaboration

A large number of options are available for primary storage

Enterprise storage technology has evolved a great deal over four decades. The first great step was the separation of the disk from the server in the mid 1960's. Over the next 20 years, protocols were developed to share disk storage among multiple servers, creating the first storage networks. The introduction of RAID in the 1980's led to the development of more virtualized SAN storage systems in the next decade. At the same time, networking companies developed file sharing protocols, creating the NAS market. By the end of the 1990's, the enterprise storage market was divided between block-based SAN and file-based NAS.

The limitations of these block- and file-focused paradigms led to the development of content-addressable storage in the first half of this decade. CAS systems discarded traditional protocols and concepts in favor of application-focused APIs and a universal naming standard for unique objects. Many early applications treated CAS objects as simple files. But applications soon developed to take advantage of the capabilities of the unique capabilities of these systems, especially in the document management and archiving space.

Enter The Cloud

Cloud storage was developed independently from all historical storage concepts, although it might appear to be an evolution of CAS. Both are object-based, use APIs rather than traditional storage protocols, and include per-object metadata. In fact, it is fairly straightforward to integrate today's cloud storage systems into applications developed to leverage CAS. But cloud storage goes further in terms of application integration and programmability (take a look at the Nirvanix API, for example). Vendors have added many features, from replication to indexing to media transcoding, each of which can be called by applications through custom APIs. Cloud storage also leverages the openness of the Internet and modern programming concepts, incorporating the Internet Protocol (IP), HTTP, SSL, REST, and SOAP.

This is not to say that cloud storage can only be used by specialized applications, however. Most cloud systems include basic web browser interfaces. More interestingly, many interface solutions have been developed to bridge traditional storage protocols to the cloud. One major contributor to the success of Amazon's S3 storage offering was Jungle Disk, a consumer-oriented application that allows users to automatically back up their files to the service. Nirvanix developed CloudNAS for enterprise users, which presents cloud storage service as a Linux filesystem or Windows drive. And EMC and Emulex recently revealed that they are working on a bridge between block-based SANs and cloud storage.

Although it can be leveraged by existing applications, often at lower cost, the real benefit from cloud storage comes when applications take advantage of its compelling distribution, collaboration, and programmability capabilities. The entire storage industry is moving toward greater levels of application awareness and integration. LUNs (fake disk drives) served up by SAN arrays are being hidden behind shared file systems in the server virtualization space. NAS is also being updated for greater integration with applications. This is a necessary step to bring about a real storage revolution that will see a transition from bulk management of capacity to granular management of data to integrated use of information.

That's why cloud storage is different, and why cloud storage matters!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett has provided vendor-independent end user consulting on storage topics for over 10 years. He has been a storage columnist and has authored numerous articles for industry publications. Stephen is a popular presenter at industry events and recently received Microsoft’s MVP award for contributions to the enterprise storage community. As the director of consulting for Nirvanix, Foskett provides strategic consulting to assist Fortune 500 companies in developing strategies for service-based tiered and cloud storage. He holds a bachelor of science in Society/Technology Studies, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

@CloudExpo Stories
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...