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Federated clouds: A private-public option that requires some DIY

In this first of three tips in our SearchCloudStorage.com hybrid cloud series, Dragon Slayer Consulting founder and senior analyst Marc Staimer discusses projects that combine private and public clouds -- commonly known as federated private-public cloud storage. Tip two examines the pros and cons associated with integrating on-premises storage with a public cloud. Tip three addresses a final hybrid cloud approach: bringing public cloud services into a private data center without sending data over a WAN.

A federated cloud storage project requires private cloud storage to be implemented on site in a private data center. A private cloud consists of cloud storage software, x86 servers with embedded or external DAS, gigabit Ethernet switched networks and hardware racks. Some cloud storage software providers shrink-wrap their software in x86 servers and DAS storage. As of this writing, all but two providers -- NetApp Inc. and Nirvanix Inc. -- use DAS, and either external or internal JBOD; however, NetApp and Nirvanix are headed in the direction of DAS with their next releases.

Read the rest of Staimer's hybrid cloud technology tip series

Merge private data center with public cloud to reduce cost of data in the cloud

Pull public cloud storage into private data to avoid moving data over a WAN

The private storage cloud is then connected to a public storage cloud over the Internet utilizing REST (representational state transfer, which is essentially programmatic HTTP) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol, which is REST plus XML and RPC) application programming interfaces (APIs). All storage clouds have subtle differences in their REST and SOAP APIs that require some tweaking to integrate them as hybrids, unless the public storage cloud uses the same software or API. But there's good news on that front. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has released the Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI), creating the first industry standard cloud storage API. Most cloud storage suppliers plan to be compatible with CDMI over time. In the meantime, the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) API is the de facto standard that most cloud storage software and public storage clouds can use.

Pros associated with federated clouds:

  • Reduced on-site and local storage costs for vast amounts of passive data.
  • Much faster on-site/local response times to the more active parts of the passive data.
  • Enhanced disaster recovery for all the passive data moved to the public storage cloud.
  • Shorter times to share data requiring geographic distribution.
  • Ability to leverage multiple public cloud storage providers.

Cons associated with federated clouds:

  • Limited compatibility between cloud storage software providers and public storage cloud service providers. The APIs can be incompatible, so modifications may be required. The emerging CDMI standard and Amazon S3 de facto standard make this a bit simpler, but there's no automated data movement between private cloud storage software and public storage clouds when the vendors aren't the same.
  • Management information and control between private cloud storage software and public storage clouds is typically limited.
  • Works much smoother if the software is from the same vendor for both the private and public storage clouds. This currently limits the choices to EMC Atmos, Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network (SDN) and Scality Ring Organic. EMC has sold Atmos to several dozen public cloud storage providers. Nirvanix sells its cloud storage software for private and hybrid implementations, and has several OEMs (Cerner, Dell, DRFortress, IBM, Swisscom and USC) using its software to provide public cloud storage. Scality has a handful of public cloud storage service providers that can interconnect with private cloud storage implementations of their software.

Of the three approaches discussed in this hybrid cloud technology tip series, federated cloud storage requires a bit more effort to wring out the kinks.

BIO: Marc Staimer is the founder and senior analyst at Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, Ore. The consulting practice of 14 years has focused on the areas of strategic planning, product development and market development. With more than 32 years of marketing, sales and business experience in infrastructure, storage, server, software and virtualization, Marc is considered one of the industry’s leading experts.

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