You Think You Know Cloud Storage Gateways? Sync Again

*The following is a guest blog post, written by Jeff Denworth of CTERA

The cloud storage gateway market was particularly hot this summer, having experienced a flood of investment topping over $100M in both likely and unlikely places. CTERA was one vendor at the center of it all – as a provider of a cloud storage services platform that enables users to deploy cloud storage gateways, enterprise file sync and share and endpoint backup services from the private and virtual private cloud of their choice. CTERA alone secured $25 million in June, but we were not alone – our friend, EMC, for example, also got into the game by acquiring TwinStrata’s block storage caching gateway for their VMAX division. Fueled by customer demand and added investment, the cloud gateway market is undeniably hot, hot, hot! IT research analyst firm MarketsAndMarkets estimates that the Cloud Storage Gateway market will continue to grow at an average rate of 55% until 2019, representing a $5B market by that time.

Why cloud gateways, you ask? Well, there’s a variety of reasons.

  • By harnessing commodity storage technology and smart scalable software in the data center, new public and private cloud storage is redefining data center economics for primary storage and disaster recovery.
  • WAN bandwidth is now robust enough to where offices can now move substantial amounts of data to and from remote data centers using deduplication and compression to optimize efficiency and performance.
  • The combination of these two factors is enabling organizations to modernize how they deploy storage at the edge and eliminate some of the pains that customers had with managing storage across a dispersed enterprise.

As customers rush to find more modern solutions for branch office storage, they quickly learn that there are many approaches to cloud storage gateways. To reduce the confusion, I’ll try to illustrate the differences here in this blog.

Sync vs. Caching: Herein Lies the Fundamental Difference.
There’s effectively two schools of capacity and namespace management when it comes to the cloud storage gateway market, and the differences have significant impact on customer TCO.

Caching Gateways
Caching gateways are designed to host the authoritative storage volume in a public or private cloud data center while retaining frequently accessed data locally in a storage gateway. Intelligent metadata management enables these systems to present the full dataset (cloud-resident and locally-cached data) all as if it were all local data and buffer caches help to accelerate read and write operations despite using the WAN as a backplane.


Sync Gateways
Sync gateways leverage the cloud more as a disaster recovery target than a cannonical global namespace. In the case of a sync gateway, the authoritative volume lives at the edge, and through smart snapshot technology, snapshots are synced to the cloud.


So… with all of this, how do you know when to use what? Here’s a simple rule of thumb…

  • Sync Gateways are often used to replace small-medium branch office storage. Think low-end enterprise NAS systems such as Microsoft Windows Storage Server Appliances.
  • Caching Gateways are often used to replace or accelerate enterprise NAS systems such as large scale monolithic or scale-out file systems.

So Where Does CTERA Come In?
CTERA and EMC are currently powering many of the world’s leading private cloud environments where organizations data security, data services versatility and the ability to enable a software-defined storage agenda. CTERA provides a Cloud Storage Services Platform that leverages next-generation object storage such as EMC ViPR and ATMOS along with EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance to serve a number of enterprise data storage services from a central cloud services delivery system. With respect to CTERA’s gateway products, think of these as sync gateways that leverage EMC object storage by replicating data to a EMC storage cloud and by capacity-optimizing gateway snapshots to the cloud for gateway capacity optimization.

Putting this all together – as you think of how to evolve your branch and remote office storage architecture, be sure to understand the data footprint. The below chart maps the cost of a sync gateway (blue line) approach to branch storage vs. a caching gateway (grey line). As you can see… there’s clear cost advantage when dealing with low data footprint in a branch office.

In this case we present Microsoft’s StorSimple caching gateway as an example of how organizations can derive substantial savings for modest branch office storage volumes.

Of course, if you want to move 100s of terabytes or petabytes to the cloud, there’s certainly a very strong case for caching gateways. That said – regardless of you volume and performance requirements, customers today have many options when looking to leverage public, private and hybrid cloud storage to modernize branch office IT infrastructures.

Cloud terminology and concepts are evolving every day… and knowing your options is key to understanding how to best modernize your IT infrastructure and processes. CTERA and EMC ViPR / ECS Appliance is a proven, compelling and EMC-certified solution for organizations with many branch offices and sub-100TB requirements where the combined solution can help organizations achieve TCO reductions up to 80% vs. traditional branch storage offerings.

Here’s some additional resources for further education along your cloud explorations:

About the Author: Jeff Denworth