Over the past several years, cloud storage has found a niche that traditional online storage arrays and archival media, like tape, do not address. Whether it’s for secondary data, structured/unstructured data that is infrequently accessed, archives or backups, cloud storage represents a near perfect compromise for data that needs to remain online and easily accessible, but calls a for minimal cost and maintenance footprint.
The question organizations face today is no longer whether or not to use cloud storage. Instead, it is how to integrate this functional tier of storage into existing IT infrastructure. Because cloud storage is based on API-accessible object storage technology, the task of integrating object storage interfaces into current IT environments is typically cumbersome, as well as disruptive to existing applications and processes.
This is where cloud storage gateways, like CloudArray come into play. (CloudArray came to EMC through the TwinStrata acquisition announced in July 2014.) By abstracting the object storage interfaces and presenting familiar block and file interfaces that applications use today, cloud storage integration is a simple plug-and-play affair.
Gateways represent a huge improvement in accelerating cloud storage consumption, but they are only the first phase in the “cloudification” of data storage environments. In fact, future phases promise to make access to cloud storage even more seamless, via direct integration into existing products.
You can expect to see the technology proliferate as we march toward a cloud-integrated future in the form of:
- Storage products with the ability to manage traditional local storage and cloud storage simultaneously from the same interface with a unified, seamless data path for applications
- Automated or user controlled policies to help orchestrate workload movement from on-premise to cloud storage based on data lifecycle, capacity constraints or specific use case – all without any impact to running applications
- Seamless merging and/or tiering of private and public cloud storage based on tradeoffs involving cost, agility and data governance requirements
This “cloudification” of data storage environments will open a broad range of options to address the “how” of cloud storage integration. In many cases, these options will be an integral part of many already familiar storage products.
With private and public cloud technology broadly available and ubiquitous, virtually any organization will be able to enjoy the operational and economic benefits of a hybrid cloud storage strategy without altering the applications and processes in their existing environments.