Storage is the hallmark of cloud computing; it is why many on both the enterprise and consumer side turn to the technology.
Cloud storage has changed from what it was even just a few years ago, though. As John Mark Walker of Red Hat said in an interview at Linux.com: “Storage, like many things, is morphing and merging with a host of other technologies. If you look at the industry trends that make up the open hybrid cloud, elastic, automated storage is quickly being recognized as an intrinsic part of any cloud architecture. The problem is, as with many technologies, those responsible for deploying these open hybrid clouds are discovering that the traditional, proprietary approaches don’t scale. That in order to have an open hybrid cloud, they need an open hybrid storage platform that’s agile enough to support their data center’s rapid growth.”
So is the open hybrid cloud agile enough to support the ever increasing need for more storage?
Yes, said Jennifer Walzer, CEO of BUMI, a provider of managed online backup and recovery solutions for small to mid-sized businesses. “A hybrid cloud approach gives organizations much more flexibility than implementing either an all public or all private solution,” she said. “Private cloud storage offers control and security, but takes tremendous resources to implement and maintain. Public cloud services require less management and significantly reduce infrastructure costs, but may not offer the same level of security and control. A carefully constructed hybrid cloud implementation allows organizations to enjoy the best of both worlds.”
Currently hybrid cloud solutions can be tied to specific implementations or API’s that may make them difficult to use, Jim Liddle, CEO of Storage Made Easy, pointed out. “For example many hardware devices are locked to using FTP, which was the de-facto standard for off-premise or hybrid cloud storage. Newer devices are implementing hardware devices with options to use the S3 API. The key here is flexibility and choice of off-cloud storage options,” he said.
Liddle suggested that companies should consider hybrid cloud storage where they require: capacity on demand; ability to scale; have large amounts of unstructured data; business continuity options; and backup.
However good the hybrid cloud storage option is now, it can be improved. According to Liddle, the current challenges of hybrid cloud storage often revolve around the following issues:
Latency – It is much slower than traditional on-premise storage.
Reliability – The data has to display typical ACID properties once moved / transacted with.
Security – Access, authorization and transport of data have to be secure.
Brian Hierholzer, CEO of Artisan Infrastructure, also pointed out the need for better standardization. “Most vendors want to picket fence their proprietary protocols but industry standardization with protocols like CDMI will help us move to a more standardized, seamless experience for the consumer of cloud services in the future,” he said.
Hierholzer also noted that not all vendors are the same and the ability to gain the autonomy, control, security and visibility will vary greatly. “It may take a few trials of different providers to settle on what is the best solution for each customer. ”But with the open hybrid cloud’s flexibility and agility, storage availability may finally seem truly unlimited.
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Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for cloud service provider Rackspace Hosting.