Sucking primary data into the cloud: The dawn of a new age

Solutions remain immature, but well worth a look

Looking for a solution(s)

There are many startups and primary vendors that are trying to match primary storage needs with the unpredictability of the cloud. They all have different solutions, some of which are still immature, others are very interesting but with limited use cases. In any case, we are only at the beginning and I think there will be a lot of development in this area in the near future.

The solution landscape is already large and I’d like to share a few examples just to give you an idea of what is happening:

  • Zadara Storage:

    This is a startup selling Virtual Private Arrays. The solution is simple and clever. You can configure your own array based on a couple of virtual controllers and a variable number of disks and you take full control of it.

    It’s your array in all its aspects and multi-tenancy is granted by design (since your disks and flash are accessed only by you). The solution is available from primary service providers (like Amazon) as well as from private cloud deployments.

    For example, you can manage replication between two different providers, or between a provider and your DC.

  • ClearSky:

    It came out of stealth a few months ago. The idea is quite interesting. It offers an appliance that manages part of the cache, while the rest is managed by them on the cloud.

    To start, the product will be available only in selected metro areas and you will need a specific leased line to use it, but I’m curious to see how it evolves.

  • Velostrata:

    Also quite new. Its product allows you to move part of your VMs from your VMware infrastructure to Amazon AWS while maintaining access to local storage.

    It leverages caching and the WAN optimization mechanism as well as an in-line conversion mechanism of the VMs during the transfer between the two environments.

    It was at the last #TFDx and it seemed somewhat immature, (1.0!) but the idea is brilliant and I think it deserves a glance, at least for the potential.

  • NetApp:

    Yes, ONTAP. ONTAP everywhere! But its idea of having ONTAP in the cloud is not that foolish. The company offers to host filers on the same facilities where Amazon has its infrastructure, meaning that you can transfer data to a filer that “sits in the cloud” and then access it from your VMs in the cloud.

    NetApp also offers ONTAP AMIs on Amazon’s marketplace ... limited use cases? Yes, but looking at the whole cloud line-up it makes a lot of sense if you are a NetApp customer.

  • Avere:

    It started years ago offering a NAS accelerator but, eventually, it began to leverage object storage instead of NFS in the backend. Now it can deliver tremendous performance through a scale-out appliance on-site and Object storage in the back-end, and its cluster can also be expanded on the cloud (AWS and GCP at the moment).

    Use cases are mostly in the HPC, Big Data, media & entertainment, but, again, if you look at the architecture it does make a lot of sense.

  • ObjectiveFS:

    A cool distributed FS for Linux servers that can be deployed across different locations leveraging S3 as backend. It’s not for every type of workload but you could be surprised by its performance, especially for some specific use cases.

  • VMware:

    Last August, at VMworld, it announced the possibility of integrating better Vcloud air with your local infrastructure through a vMotion functionality that should work across private and public infrastructures.

Solutions are plentiful. I know I’ve left out some interesting ones, but I just wanted to give an idea of the solutions that are already available to stretch your infrastructure between public and private infrastructures.

Bottom line

For most IT organizations cloud is a hybrid thing. Most of them don’t have the resources to run a private cloud for everything (and they actually don’t want to!) and sometimes, due to local laws and regulations, you want to keep your data locally even if you are a small organization.

Infrastructure is evolving to address new workload/data mobility demand, and we are merely at the start and many solutions are still immature; but there is a great interest from end users and the number of solutions is quickly growing (and maturing).

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