Can a cloud storage act as a primary data storage resource

Yes, says a study conducted by 451 Research on cloud storage. The research also predicts that AWS and Azure will be two of the top five enterprise storage vendors by 2017 with Azure leading the pack and AWS standing at the second position by the said year.

However, the main challenge to use a cloud as a primary storage platform will be latency between that storage and user applications. To take advantage of the economic, 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.

“Moving infrastructure outside your data center will definitely initiate latency (time taken for a data packet to reach one designated point to another) issues. The transit should be on par with the speed of light and that’s not an easy task to achieve”, said Mo Tahmasebi, CEO and President of DNF Corporation which deals with services like data center establishment, management and network issues. He added that the trick to achieve high performance in cloud storage isn’t just to throw more disk drives or flash at the issue. It is solving the latency troubles from the core and that can only be achieved if we co-locate data very close to compute, or introduce some sort of network optimization or caching mechanisms.

Scott Sinclair, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group throws some more light on this issue with an example. AWS S3 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 drop in storage. This helps users in buying fixed amounts of storage at today’s prices ahead of the actual need for that storage.

Hence, when cloud offers so many advantages, why is it being regulated to only a backup role instead of primary storage? That’s because not many are aware that latency troubles can be smartly handled with caching, global deduplication and global file locking features.

Caching data locally is the first step to eliminate the effect of latency. Generally, many respondents in the surveys carried out till date say that 70% of the generated data remains untouched till 60 -90 days. This means that if the user can cache the hot or active data on the premises and move the rest to the cloud, it can prove economical and can help in optimizing IT resources. If we can have enough storage to cache the active data, then the solution will prove futuristic.

Global deduplication is extremely useful when transferring a file from one local cache to another local cache assuming both caches are connected to the same cloud storage. Since each local cache has a dedup table, it knows what blocks that it is missing from a file that is being transferred.  Only the missing blocks are actually transferred across the wide area network between the two different local caches.  StoneFly’s deduplication software reduces the transfer times of 10GB-to-50GB game build files from over 10 hours to just minutes as only the new blocks of the files were actually transferred.

Cache and dedup can only help in making the transfer time low. Then what about the application chattiness? IT professionals often ignore caching and dedup eliminate or significantly reduce the time to transfer data, but do not solve for application chattiness. Actually, the later has the full potential to show an impact on data transfer and it can be seen with a small example.

Let’s assume that users are opening a small AutoCAD 1.5MB file across the country say New York to California. It’s a known fact that over 16,000 file operations are involved while opening an AutoCAD file. This is called the chattiness of the application. If the authoritative copy of the file (with the file lock) is 86 milliseconds away (the round trip latency from California to New York), then it takes 16,000x 86ms for the file to open – approximately 22 minutes. The actual data transfer for a 1.5MB is a fraction of the 22 minutes.

This is where global file locking comes in.  When the file lock is transferred from New York to California, it is as though the authoritative copy of the file is stored in California (even though the authoritative copy is still in New York) so the latency is LAN latency instead of WAN latency, and drops from 86ms to 0.56ms. The time to open the file drops significantly: 16,000 * 0.56ms for a grand total of 8 seconds.

Of course, not every application has the level of chattiness of AutoCAD, but any application that was developed for a high-speed, low latency local area network will have some sort of chattiness that will often cause more performance issues than the transfer of the file data itself.

Thus, when cloud storage can offer so many benefits; then why not consider it as a primary storage than just a backup media.

StoneFly, Inc. offers Enterprise Cloud Storage solution which acts as a perfect primary storage resource. Companies looking to add storage on fly and looking to save money on CapEX and OpEx costs can opt for this cloud storage.

StoneFly Cloud Drives feature StoneFly’s proven enterprise-class SAN technology which has been integrated with Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform to offer Storage as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), remote OS boot from the cloud, and the provisioning of data stores for physical or virtual environments (such as VMware or Hyper-V).

StoneFly Cloud Drives are ideal for protecting mission-critical information and include advanced business continuity features such as snapshots, asynchronous remote replication, multi geo-mirroring (one-to-many and many-to-one), data deduplication, volume encryption, and thin provisioning.

StoneFly Cloud Drive offers the following benefits

  • Users who are in search of solutions which can add mass amounts of storage to their workstations can opt for Stonefly Cloud drive. By doing so, they can get scalable iSCSI storage capacity as well as on demand and can save capital expenses that come with the purchase of physical appliances. This practice also helps them in saving operational costs as users can also save on power and cooling costs which are needed for the functioning of physical appliance.
  • Users can also use StoneFly Cloud Drive like a remote scale out NAS storage hosted in Microsoft Azure.
  • For users needing remote replication services for their data center, StoneFly Cloud drive can serve as remote storage platform.
  • Those who need caching of hot data on-premises and moving of cold data to the cloud, without bandwidth and latency troubles, StoneFly Cloud drive can serve as a perfect note. They can use a StoneFly all-flash gateway appliance and accelerate the data transfer between the local system and Microsoft Azure.

To know more call 510.265.1616 or click on StoneFly Cloud Drive for Microsoft Azure.

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