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How to use cloud storage as primary storage

Barry Phillips, Chief Marketing Officer, Panzura | April 11, 2016
It takes a combination of caching, global deduplication, security, and global file locking.

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

The cloud is the promised land when it comes to storage.  A recent 451 Research report said AWS and Azure will be two of the top five enterprise storage vendors by 2017 with AWS as number two overall.  But the challenge with using the cloud for primary storage is the latency between that storage and users/applications. To take advantage of the economics, scale, and durability of cloud storage, it will take a combination of caching, global deduplication, security, and global file locking to provide cloud storage with the performance and features organizations require. 

"Any time you move your infrastructure somewhere outside of your data center, there's going to be latency involved, and you run in to the speed of light problem: The speed of light can only go so fast,” says Scott Sinclair, analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group.  “But unlike most storage problems, the trick to achieving high-performance cloud storage isn't just to throw more disk drives or flash at the problem.  When solving for the speed of light, new technologies need to rely on a specific innovation to solve the problem -- namely, co-locating data very close to compute, or introducing some sort of network optimization or caching mechanism.”

Let’s first take a quick look at AWS S3 as an example of why there is so much hype around cloud storage.  AWS provides 11 nines of durability and is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities.  AWS also lets customers pay as they grow and immediately take advantage of any price drops in storage.  This is much different than buying fixed amounts of storage at today’s prices ahead of the actual need for that storage. 

And there are few organizations, if any, that can match the scale of AWS.  Everyday, AWS installs enough infrastructure to host the entire Amazon e-tailing business from back in 2004 (when Amazon the retailer was one-tenth its current size at $7 billion in annual revenue).

With all these advantages why is cloud storage relegated to only a back-up role instead of primary storage?  The speed of light between the datacenter and cloud storage is hard to overcome.  However, there are ways to overcome the latency and break the speed of light. 

Latency normally manifests itself in slow performance. This is where caching, global deduplication and global file locking come into play. 

Caching data locally is the first step to eliminate the effect of latency.  Many analysts will tell you that 70% of data has not been accessed in 60 days.  When we evaluate the storage for prospective customers, we find that 90% of their data has not been accessed in six months.  This means that if you cache the hot or active data in the office, the rest of the data can be stored in the cloud. 

 

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