Cloud file storage and cloud-based services have historically relied on an interesting strategy, sometimes called a “Free-mium” business model. They offer a free service, typically a stripped down version of their regular product, and encourage users to upgrade to the paid version. Sometimes the free versions aren’t very functional or the capacity offered is extremely low and often this ‘encouragement’ is downright annoying. But as long as users stay below the free-mium threshold or pay their bills for the upgraded service, cloud providers are expected to honor their promise to store these data, presumably forever.
The Cloud Promise and The Cloud Problem
The model seems to be working (excluding Nirvanix’s failure), at least given the number of cloud-based services that are on the market. One thing most of these businesses rely on to keep the ‘cloud promise’ is cheap storage capacity in their cloud data centers. But cloud providers are running into capacity problems as users keep storing data and don’t seem to be deleting much of it. Making matters worse is the proliferation of high resolution cell phone cameras and social media content sharing.
As cloud providers scramble to find a way to lower storage costs the answer may be ‘hiding in plain sight’. Using a new REST interface that can talk to tape and an appliance created by Spectra Logic, Deep Storage may be the lifeline cloud providers need. The DS3 interface is a modification of the S3 standard created by Amazon that adds commands for bulk data handling and sequential reads and writes, both required to efficiently manage tape. The BlackPearl appliance is a combination bridge, buffer and protocol translator that enables tape libraries to take data objects as input and write them to tape in an LTFS format.
With these new technologies applications that are designed with a REST interface or object storage systems themselves can easily interface with tape. This means cloud providers could add a tape tier and get the economics and long term storage capabilities that LTO and LTFS bring, without the complexity (and expense) of archive software. Together, these technologies, coupled with object storage and REST-enabled applications may be the way to keep the cloud promise and address the challenges of ‘forever data’. For more information tune into this webinar from Storage Switzerland and Spectra Logic “Driving Down the Cost of Forever”. In it you will learn: