Cloud’s low-hanging fruit: Backup, tiering and data sharing

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My Post (52).pngNative cloud operations can have a steep on-ramp in terms of enterprise IT readiness, but some things are relatively easy to port to a tier of storage in the cloud

But not all cloud technology is easy to integrate into existing, traditional (on-premise) infrastructure; so if we want to take advantage of the cloud, how do we do that without major upheaval?
In this article, we will explore the areas of IT that are most easily moved to the cloud, such as backup, tiering and data sharing.

Where cloud can help
The need to deliver with speed, at scale and while reducing costs are common challenges many of us face in our enterprise.

These are often difficult to achieve with more traditional approaches, but this is where cloud excels; with scale, agility and flexibility – so how can we use it to meet enterprise demands?

Why not native cloud?
While our existing technology may restrict our ability to do all we want to do, it is deeply built into in the way we operate.

But shifting to native cloud services – in other words, those that were built for and run in the cloud – is not a trivial task, and may require the rewrite of applications, workflows and retraining of staff. All of these cost time and money, and have the potential to introduce risk.

However, integrating cloud technology with familiar enterprise technologies can help simplify use of the cloud, and allow us to more easily and widely adopt it.

Cloud fixing enterprise problems
How can we best use the cloud to integrate with and enhance existing datacentre functions?

In this section, we will look at some areas of datacentre functionality that can be most easily ported to the cloud, often as hybrid operations with the use of the cloud as an adjunct to on-premise working.

Cloud as a tier
The ever-increasing amounts of data we hold are a real challenge. As well as production data, there are also backups and other “cold”, infrequently-accessed data.

Where to store different classes of data, so that it is held on the most cost-efficient tier – including on-premise or in the cloud – presents a real technical and business issue.

Questions that arise include: how do we size accurately and easily grow our capacity on demand? How do we manage our data so that backups and infrequently used data do not consume expensive production tiers but remain accessible?

The idea of tiering data to lower cost disk is not new, but cloud storage with its scalability and commercially compelling pay-as-you-use model has created the almost perfect long-term repository.

Major storage suppliers have recognised this, and are now starting to integrate a cloud-based tier directly into their production arrays. For example, NetApp’s FabricPool allows its ONTAP operating systems to move data from production into backend cloud, doing it invisibly to storage teams and users alike.

It’s not just the major storage suppliers either. Microsoft’s Azure File Sync service integrates a similar idea directly into Windows Server.

This technology is not without challenges. Cloud costs and the performance impact of retrieving data from a cloud repository must be taken into account, but the benefit that a cloud storage tier delivers make it worthy of consideration. – Read more

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