Storage Strategies NOW recently released a White Paper entitled: Cloud Storage: Adoption, Practice and Deployment. This article is a summary of this document.
Basics of Cloud Storage
To understand cloud storage we need to define what this type of storage really means. Simply put Cloud Storage is data storage that is either internet based or hosted by a third party at a different location.
Cloud storage comes under the subset of cloud computing. Cloud computing consists of a pool of resources including networks, servers, services and storage capabilities.
Assigned and Unassigned Storage Requirement
The popularity of cloud storage is the availability of resources as needed by the client. They can simply assign and unassigned storage requirements as they are needed. This in turn helps the client save money. This eliminates the need of buying additional servers and purchasing storage on a long term basis. Each client’s information is secure and cannot be accessed by anyone else.
Making use of cloud storage frees up the time of the staff at your IT center. They are now available to put their skills into use in other areas.
API’s (application programming interfaces)
The physical location of the cloud storage can be anywhere in the world. This is because storage is done via web applications known as API’s (application programming interfaces). The information stored is made available through the internet or through a private resource. Accessibility is not an issue.
The main requirement for a customer is the ability to be billed on usage only as opposed to available space. This is known as multi-tenancy. The next requirement is that a client’s information is secure. These needs to be done with encryption, authentication, and authorization methods and needs to be implemented for the transfer of information as well as for long term storage. The actual storage site needs to be physically secure as well.
- Secure transmission is done several ways including:
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https)
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
- Private Networks using a gateway
Another issue for clients is in knowing and trusting that your data is actually in the cloud. This is known as Data Verification and there is no actual system for this in place. This is an area where ongoing research is currently being conducted.
Protection of Cloud Resources
The storage provider needs to take good measure for protection and availability of their cloud resources. They must take steps to maintain physical protection as well as protection against power loss and loss of network access.
Cloud Resources Back UP
Processes need to be in place to deal with failures and redundancy as they occur. Some providers offer different price plans for backing up data to several places. These backup tapes can then be used to recover lost data as needed. This recently happened to Google and their Gmail accounts. Information was lost but was recoverable within a matter of days by using their backup tapes.
Billing for Cloud Storage
- Amount of data uploaded
- Amount of data downloaded
- Amount of data stored
- Number and type of requests
Overview of Who is Using Cloud Storage
A survey was conducted to businesses by Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and Storage Strategies NOW. Common consensus was that the business was planning on using cloud storage with 57.5% responding positively. With 27% wanting to make the change in the next 6 months to one year and 22% responding that they had already made the switch.
For the type of material being stored in the Cloud email and backups were the most common items stored. The organizations that used cloud storage the most at this time were financial organizations, banks and real estate companies.
Main IT Priorities
The survey also asked businesses what their main IT priorities were over the next 18 months. The top three areas were:
- Improve data backup and recovery
- Increase use of server virtualization
- Information security
The storage applications most commonly intended for the Cloud include primary backups, secondary backs and archiving and retention purposes. The biggest drawback for customers to start using cloud storage is that it is not yet proven.
Cloud Storage API’s
Cloud Storage API’s is the set of program functions that are applied to any application wanting to access the cloud. This is proving to be an issue for many providers. Currently there is no standard API in place. SNIA does have development initiatives underway but they will still take years to fully implement. New users must choose a cloud storage provider and then develop any modifications or use a gateway to access the cloud. This is why most customers are using cloud storage as a secondary back up source.
Some of the recommended providers for cloud storage mentioned in this report are:
- Amazon S3 API’s
- Eucalyptus API’s
- Mezeo API’s
- Nirvanix API’s
This white paper provides a concise overview of what cloud storage is along with the current trends and what we as customers can look forward to in the future. Remember when we were concerned about WiFi? This is exactly where cloud storage is today.
You can also keep up to date with current trends and technology by visiting Data Center Talk where we keep you informed on important changes as they occur.