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Cloud Storage Gateways & Cloud Integrated Storage: Sorting the Terminology

And a deeper look at the problems cloud storage can solve

Every emerging market goes through a time of confusion where both vendors and analysts try to “define” the solution to a pervasive problem. Meanwhile, companies actually experiencing the problem are left to sort through a cacophony of mixed messages and terminology, all the while struggling to understand how this “category” of products solves their problem.  As cloud storage moves closer to the IT mainstream, we see this same story arc playing out, with analysts and vendors coining a new category of products – “Cloud Integrated Storage” (CiS) – that is subtly different from the “cloud storage gateway” term that previously captured the entire category.

According to an ESG report, CiS entails “primary and/or most active data staying onsite (as a tier or cache).” It operates “for less active data … as an easily scalable archive” and offers “powerful remote data protection and business continuity capabilities.” While this description is quite elaborate, in layman’s terms, CiS simply delivers cloud storage in addition to traditional storage to on-premise environments. In fact, it may all sound very familiar to those already using advanced cloud storage gateways and appliances.

This debate about terminology obfuscates the bigger question: What should an IT department looking to incorporate cloud into their storage strategy be looking for? Rather than dwelling on the terminology, which can sometimes be helpful and other times confusing, let’s look at three types of problems businesses are trying to solve using cloud storage. Each scenario calls for a slightly different solution deployment:

  • Growing storage capacity with minimal local footprint. Capacity is growing for many businesses at a rate of 20-60% per year expanding the need for data center floor space –a situation that does not scale well to data center constraints. Alternatively, a constant cycle of migrating and replacing storage capacity with new higher-density storage presents it’s own set of risks, downtime and administrative burden. Companies need to address growth requirements without data center expansion and without increasing administration and business risk. How? By connecting to a large, virtually unlimited, cloud store, while using a small amount of local capacity for caching. This caching/acceleration of storage in the cloud is one of the fundamental premises behind cloud storage gateways.

  • Replicating storage capacity to cloud for disaster recovery. Many organizations that require an off-premise disaster recovery strategy find today’s data replication solutions (usually consisting of secondary sites and dedicated infrastructure) unattainable. Replicating data to the cloud solves the problem of building out and maintaining remote infrastructure, and replaces it with on-demand cloud resources. Creating a capacity pool in the cloud that replicates and/or snapshots local storage capacity can serve as that disaster recovery plan. Moreover, it gives applications instant access to data in the cloud. Unlike the first scenario, a full-featured storage device with local capacity is required.

  • Tiering excess capacity to cloud. For businesses continuing to store significant amounts of data locally but also in need of an “overflow valve” for their growing archive data where the data remains online for compliance purposes, cloud storage is a very compelling way to handle the overflow. Unlike the prior scenarios, this one involves some data that may reside only locally and/or some data that may reside only in the cloud. Keep in mind that having the data only in one place (i.e. local only) does not guarantee data protection.

An ideal cloud storage solution addresses all three scenarios, whether it is labeled a CiS solution or an advanced gateway. Truth is, advanced cloud gateways, such as CloudArray, are also CiS solutions – the terminology is a question of preference, not of capability. That means that aside from working with all the scenarios above, they offer plug-and-play connectivity, at-rest security, always-on backup, built-in offsite data protection, cloud snapshots that are immediately accessible and instant DR from anywhere.

Discover today how flexible cloud storage can be and how it can help simplify your data storage IT environment.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Nicos Vekiarides

Nicos Vekiarides is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of TwinStrata. He has spent over 20 years in enterprise data storage, both as a business manager and as an entrepreneur and founder in startup companies.

Prior to TwinStrata, he served as VP of Product Strategy and Technology at Incipient, Inc., where he helped deliver the industry's first storage virtualization solution embedded in a switch. Prior to Incipient, he was General Manager of the storage virtualization business at Hewlett-Packard. Vekiarides came to HP with the acquisition of StorageApps where he was the founding VP of Engineering. At StorageApps, he built a team that brought to market the industry's first storage virtualization appliance. Prior to StorageApps, he spent a number of years in the data storage industry working at Sun Microsystems and Encore Computer. At Encore, he architected and delivered Encore Computer's SP data replication products that were a key factor in the acquisition of Encore's storage division by Sun Microsystems.

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