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Managing Data in the Cloud By @Tarmin101 | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Organizations are considering the options available to transition from storage environments into public, private & hybrid clouds

A Data-Centric Approach to Managing Data in the Cloud

Thinking about venturing into the cloud? Where would you start? What you should absolutely not do is approach your transition to the cloud the same way you planned your traditional storage. You should start with understanding the value of your data; take a ‘data centric' approach.

With the promise of improving business efficiencies and reducing overall storage costs, organizations are considering the many options available to transition from traditional storage environments into public, private and hybrid clouds. While bring your own device (BYOD) and mobility initiatives through cloud services continue to rise, modern organizations need to manage costs and provide secure data access to the right person at the right time to satisfy geographically dispersed workforces and improve business agility.

Rather than starting with storage and then defining how your data needs to fit, start with data, and then define what the storage needs to look like based on that data. Using this modern approach, which is embodied by data defined storage solutions, is a great way to plan your transition to the cloud, as it encourages your organization to better prioritize - re-thinking data requirements first and then creating a storage infrastructure based on the data.

Private or Hybrid - the Value of Data
The value of data changes over the course of its lifecycle. The following descriptions provide a simplified view of two types of data:

Active data needs to be quickly accessed and is generally frequently used for collaboration throughout the enterprise.

Data that is infrequently or rarely accessed still necessitates secure retention and protection due to internal or external governance regulations and compliance.

By taking a data centric approach, an organization can create unified pools of storage based on the value of data. Active storage pools might reside on-premise through a private cloud, while most or all of the inactive data can be pushed to public cloud storage; this results in the creation of hybrid solutions, which are both cost-effective and efficient. Multiple storage pools could be created, which are based on performance, protection and frequency of data access.

To further reduce TCO, data centric solutions can provide intelligent pool-to-pool tiering based on the value of data over its lifecycle, and distributed object deduplication and compression - reducing capacity requirements within virtualized storage pools. The beauty of a data centric approach is that, no matter how many different storage pools are created, all data repositories can be unified into globally distributed data stores - whether on premise or in the cloud - and are exposed through a single global namespace for easy access and collaboration.

Data Accessibility
When an organization is considering a cloud storage option, it needs to ensure seamless access to existing data. It is important to keep in mind that most vendors support one or more compatible APIs for cloud provisioning and integration with existing applications, but this does not provide access to data that already exists on file servers or NAS devices. As a result, a file gateway (often obtained by a third party) is typically needed to allow existing file-based workflows to continue to operate. Data capture software may be required to find suitable files and move them to the object store. To ensure relevant files can be found in response to corporate investigations, litigation or regulatory inquiries, a separate e-Discovery solution may need to be added to the stack as well.

Conversely, data centric solutions simplify this convoluted, complex web of systems and meet all of these requirements within a single software application. The multiple access and protocol support breaks down barriers for the growing mobile workforce - easing the journey to the cloud and adding significant value and flexibility for a geographically dispersed organization.

Data Security Strategy
As organizations plan their transition to the cloud, data risk concerns can become compounded, which is often cited as the number one concern. CIOs are always accountable for meeting regulatory and compliance mandates related to data retention, which could result in hefty financial penalties, legal litigation or loss of reputation if not properly managed. Also, with the addition of third-party file sharing services, BYOD in the workplace and a growing mobile workforce, they need to minimize the corporate risks associated with these newer initiatives. As employees are given new responsibilities or leave the organization, access privileges need to be reviewed, updated, suspended or removed. How will this be managed when the administration of file sharing groups is no longer within the control of the corporate information technology team?

As more and more employees interact with business information in the cloud through personal devices, organizations must look for comprehensive cloud solutions that facilitate data collaboration, and address the needs for enterprise-wide data security and privacy related to mobility across storage, servers and smart devices.

Selecting a data centric approach allows organizations to integrate their cloud environments with their existing security models to deliver identity-centric compliance and data security, even across the native ‘sync-n-share' feature. Sync-n-share allows enterprise-scale file sharing and collaboration for all mobile users. Individual user and team accounts can be created for secure access from anywhere and any device.

Through this integration, all data access can be authenticated, audited and monitored via a transparent data security solution that leverages existing organizational policies. It provides end-to-end data protection, both inside and outside of the data center, including managing unauthorized access and inadvertent or malicious modification or deletion across all storage, servers, infrastructures and smart devices, transparently and non-disruptively to end user workflow. By deploying technologies that seamlessly integrate with enterprise-wide security models set by the organization's own IT administrator, CIOs can rest assured that their internal policies will remain intact even if their data resides in the cloud.

By using data defined storage solutions, which employ a data centric approach to managing data in the cloud, organizations can create more comprehensive, flexible cloud storage solutions that will help reduce costs, meet compliance mandates and support worry-free data accessibility and security.

More Stories By Shahbaz Ali

Shahbaz Ali is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Tarmin, a leading global provider of data defined storage solutions for enterprise infrastructure, storage and data management. A seasoned entrepreneur with a history of successful ventures, he has more than 20 years' experience creating world-class software driven solutions for enterprise clients. Ali holds a BSC (Hons) in Software Engineering from London Southbank University and has completed a PhD course of study in Software Requirements Engineering from the prestigious Open University.

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