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BT adds Caringo Swarm object-based cloud storage to services

Caringo Swarm object storage helps British Telecom Compute Services facilitate tiering from a customer data center to BT's data centers to public clouds.

British Telecom (BT) has added Caringo Swarm object storage to help customers who want to protect data on premises...

and move some of it to a public cloud in a hybrid setup.

BT Compute offers IT services globally, managed from its 45 data centers located throughout the world. BT provides private compute services from its own data center, as well as cloud compute services that mix private and public clouds through a secure portal. The compute services led to customers requesting storage, and the telco added services such as backup, archiving and file sync and share, said John Gillam, CTO for cloud services at BT Global Services.

BT has approximately 1 PB of traditional block and file storage from several vendors -- mainly NetApp -- but Caringo Swarm brings geographically dispersed storage and an API compatible with Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).

Gillam said Caringo Swarm lets BT offer enterprise-grade storage to its customers in a hybrid setup. He said BT Compute's customers have traditionally used tape for backup and archiving, but many are transitioning to the cloud for at least part of their data protection. Object storage helps that transition, whether it's for archiving data that had been on premises or for new applications, such as file sync and share.

According to Gillam, almost all of BT Compute's global 1,000 enterprise customers use hybrid clouds. They have too much legacy storage on premises to scrap, but they still want to take advantage of the cloud's new technologies.

"We help that transition in a hybrid journey," he said.

Customers don't have to keep all their data on BT's cloud, but can use public clouds as well. Caringo Swarm has a gateway that allows customers to move data to Amazon S3 and S3-compatible clouds.

"As much as we would like customers to be loyal to one brand, the advantage we see for our customers is that the multitude of cloud services gives them the ability to cleverly pick and choose where they want to put data -- whether they want to process it for compute or store it," Gillam said.

He said highly regulated data would stay on traditional storage or a private cloud, while "on the other side, we have those who say, 'This data is publicly available on my website. I just want to get this in the most highly available locations at the lowest cost,' and will choose commodity storage in a public cloud."

BT Compute allows customers to buy its services and enables them by connecting to public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. "We're seeing customers who might do test/dev in Amazon, but they might bring the production workload back into their own environment or host it on a private solution on BT," Gillam said. "We facilitate that data workload move and have consistent repositories."

Caringo Swarm scalability is 'one of the slickest things'

That's where object storage comes in. BT ran an 18-month beta test of its service using Caringo Swarm before going live with it this year. Gillam said he determined Caringo was a better fit for enterprises than other object storage products. Although Caringo is available on hardware appliances from partners, BT Compute buys Caringo Swarm software and builds its own storage nodes.

"We found Caringo's underlying product was designed for delivering large enterprise solutions," he said. "But they also deliver software that scales to support the complexity of a multi-tenant platform."

BT runs Caringo Swarm in storage nodes in its global data centers. Gillam said the telcom's storage capacity is growing significantly, as customers become more comfortable with the cloud.

"Scalability is one of the slickest things about Caringo," he said. "One sweet thing they did with the platform is, when you drop a new node in, it builds itself from the ground up. The new node announces itself to the main controller. If you want to add a 72 TB or petabyte node, you just drop it in."

BT Compute Storage powered by Caringo provides AES 2,048-bit encryption, privately held encryption keys for Amazon S3-compatible clouds and isolated data storage areas inside BT's facilities.

Caringo Swarm also has a replication capability that BT Compute uses to regionalize data. For example, if a customer wants to replicate between nodes in Germany and the U.K., but not send data to the United States, BT Compute can handle that.

These types of features have helped large global customers take to the cloud, Gillam said. "The largest enterprises are getting more comfortable with cloud capability, especially from a trusted service provider," he said.

Next Steps

With vendor improvements, object technology moves into production role

Object storage systems move outside of the cloud

Object storage and the cloud can be a good fit with primary data

Dig Deeper on Cloud object storage

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