Storing data in the cloud: Primary storage and near-line data

Vendors are exploring storing data in the cloud as a software service or Infrastructure as a Service, with the goal of putting more primary storage and near-line data in the cloud. In this video interview, Wayne Pauley, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, discusses what it will take to get customers to trust the cloud for their primary storage, how self-service portals will play in this market and the importance of gateways.

Do you see any other forms of primary data making it into the cloud, and what technologies are needed to make the cloud a more viable place to store primary data?

Wayne Pauley: Well, primary data is already appearing in cloud providers through software service offerings. Salesforce is a good example, and you have new clouds being stood up by companies like HP, Dell and IBM. I think we're going to see a natural migration with vendors like that providing services, and you have telcos that have provided managed services for a long time. They're starting to implement Infrastructure as a Service offerings as well.

I think primary data will end up, I wouldn't call it leaking, but being moved to trusted partners that enterprises have had relationships with for a long time. For example, the Boston [Internet] Exchange here in New England [has] Infrastructure as a Service offerings today and they have been providing managed services for let's say, call it overages, for companies that are in the Boston area that have network connections to the Boston [Internet] Exchange. So they can run MPLS, for example, as a way of connecting what's on-premises to [what's] off-premises. And offering Infrastructure as a Service gives an ability to provide or utilize on-demand services from someone like the Boston [Internet] Exchange. It's just one example, and I think those are occurring all around the country. And there are individual services provided in different countries in Europe, for example, that do the same kind of thing.

Do you see any new mainstream products coming out that include self-service portals such as EMC's VMAX Cloud Edition?

Pauley: I think [it's] a natural progression that the self-service portals will be provided natively inside of these devices. Or they'll be able to federate and provide services to a service catalog that IT may have running as a separate product, or through software service offerings and service catalogs that are provided by other vendors. There are a growing number of vendors providing service catalogs that link into devices like conversion infrastructure devices for example, or the FlexPod from NetApp, and we'll see more from other companies that are new entrants into that space.

What kinds of technologies are needed to make it easier to store near-line data in the cloud?

Pauley: If it's going to go off-premises, the advancements have to be in the areas of dealing with latency problems for distance, and continued improvements in the security capabilities that are going to allow you to federate and still maintain a good security profile with what's shared basically with a cloud provider versus what's on-premises. Those are going to be some of the key areas that have to continue to evolve.

What kind of storage characteristics should be looked at when evaluating gateways, which are incredibly important for hybrid storage?

Pauley: The hybrid storage offerings, the gateways, the thing they provide that's unique is [that] many of them cache data and that solves one of the major problems, which is latency. The second one is that you may be dealing with files and file systems natively on-premises within the enterprise, and the storage that's offered by many of the cloud providers is object-based. So that translation from file system to an object store is masked by many of these gateways. And, again, that's a very powerful capability that makes the traditional user not have to worry about 'Well, how [do] I get into the object index, etc.? I don't have to worry about that [because] it's translated for me.' So it makes it very easy for the end user.

About the presenter:
Wayne Pauley is a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass. His focus is on cloud computing, IT as a Service and the software-defined data center.

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