The cloud offers a number of significant benefits for IT organizations, especially flexibility, as it allows companies to expand resource capacity on a moment’s notice. Cloud-based storage and services also provide a way to shift infrastructure costs from upfront, capital expenditures to ‘pay as you go’ operating expenses. These benefits are generally well known, but how to actually ‘deploy the cloud’ within a company’s existing infrastructure is much less clear – and more complicated.
Often bringing the cloud into the data center requires dedicated gateways, special software layers, changes to applications or all of the above. If an organization has a complex or automated workflow, adopting cloud storage may even involve redesigning that workflow. Quantum recently introduced a new set of cloud-based services that are designed to address these challenges, Q-Cloud Archive, Q-Cloud Vault and Q-Cloud Protect for AWS.
Why it’s a Better Cloud
Unlike other cloud access methods, Quantum Q-Cloud services don’t introduce another piece of dedicated hardware or software, but instead simply integrate the cloud tier into the StorNext or DXi management framework. This means current users can add the cloud into their environments without buying, installing and learning another component or interface, and without modifying application software or even current workflows.
Q-Cloud services also bring the ‘goodness of cloud storage’ into the existing workflows that are supported by StorNext or existing data backed up by DXi – seamlessly. As an example, many of these organizations are using StorNext to support very large-file, digital content processing that can only be done with local storage. They’re looking to the cloud as a way to improve efficiency and reduce costs, but it’s clearly a ‘hybrid’ use case – a combination of on-site and cloud-based storage.
Q-Cloud Archive and Q-Cloud Vault for Workflow Storage
Q-Cloud Archive and Q-Cloud Vault are storage services that add a cloud storage tier to Quantum’s StorNext 5 environments. This is implemented initially on Amazon, with the potential to support other public cloud services later.
StorNext has become an industry-standard scale-out, file system solution, especially in the Media and Entertainment space where companies of all sizes use it to manage often enormous unstructured data sets, primarily video and image files. These digital content repositories can grow into the multiple PB range, but must maintain file accessibility and performance as they do so.
StorNext maintains an on-premise, multi-tiered architecture that can consist of primary disk storage, secondary disk storage, archive object-based storage on Quantum’s Lattus storage systems and archive tape storage. Now, StorNext 5 includes an option to add a Q-Cloud Archive tier for fast access to cloud-based files and a Q-Cloud Vault tier for ‘cold storage’ of long-term data or disaster recovery protection.
Q-Cloud Archive and Q-Cloud Vault give StorNext users the ability to plug in a cloud tier and move data to the cloud when it makes sense, without impacting their current workflows. They can add instant capacity in the cloud to cover short-term requirements or migrate data from their on-site storage systems into a cloud vault as it ages out. They can also move that data back on-site when requirements change. This kind of flexibility is essential as they figure out how to make the cloud work for them, short-term and long-term.
To implement this, StorNext 5 users simply paste the appropriate Q-Cloud Archive or Q-Cloud Vault access codes for their environments into the StorNext user interface. For new users, StorNext 5 is typically implemented as a “metadata appliance”, a 6U, rack-mounted server and storage chassis running the StorNext 5 software stack. Once the account is established, the only step left is to define a data movement policy and apply it to a directory, and by extension, all of its sub-directories.
All billing and support is handled by Quantum. They also simplify the billing model that Amazon-direct customers would see by passing through PUT and GET charges at no cost.
Appeal of the Cloud
Many companies understand the value of the cloud but may have a tough time implementing it, due to insufficient expertise or concern with issues like bandwidth and security. With Quantum Q-Cloud Archive, StorNext customers can now stand up a small Metadata Appliance, connect it to a disk array and activate Q-Cloud Archive to get an essentially unlimited capacity storage system for a monthly payment. They don’t need sophisticated IT talent, they don’t have to decide upfront what capacity their system will need a year or two down the road and they can change the configuration easily.
Q-Cloud Protect AWS for Backup and DR
For companies looking to the cloud for data protection, Q-Cloud Protect for AWS allows Quantum’s DXi backup appliances to replicate data to a virtual DXi instance in Amazon’s AWS cloud. DXi is Quantum’s established de-duplicating disk backup appliance that provides a storage target for all major backup applications and Quantum’s vmPRO software for backing up virtual environments. Existing DXi users would purchase a Q-Cloud Protect license and configure the appliance to replicate to an appropriate AWS account.
For new users, DXi can be run as a physical appliance, with 34TB to over 500TB of usable capacity in a single rack (up to 7.2PB of logical capacity, after de-duplication), or the DXi V-series can also be implemented as a virtual machine.
Cloud DR and Compliance
For companies looking to add a secure cloud-DR capability, Q-Cloud Protect for AWS brings the power of Amazon’s cloud to their data center. For a periodic charge they can set up and replicate backups from an existing DXi appliance to a virtual DXi running in AWS. For mid-market companies, Q-Cloud Protect running on a DXi V-series VM is a low buy-in option for getting ‘real DR’ protection in an enterprise-class backup appliance. This can also be an ideal way to satisfy compliance regulations by putting data into a secure, encrypted, certified environment that’s located in the appropriate region. Q-Cloud Protect for AWS is offered in addition to Quantum’s existing service, Q-Cloud Protect, which is typically used to send backups to an MSP-managed data center utilizing Quantum data protection solutions.
You can’t enjoy the benefits of the cloud if you can’t get access. This ‘last mile problem’ – referring to the challenges of bringing a public utility that last mile into the data center – keeps many companies, large and small, out of the cloud. Heretofore, the way through this cloud connectivity barrier has been to insert another software layer or add a gateway appliance.
For years, companies have been using StorNext to efficiently manage their large file data sets, by storing them on the most appropriate tiers, from primary disk arrays to object storage and tape archives. Now that Quantum has integrated cloud connectivity into the StorNext SAN file system, users can manage their data in the cloud as if it was just another local tier of storage.
Q-Cloud Protect for AWS handles the data protection cloud use case, providing similar benefits that Q-Cloud Archive and Q-Cloud Vault do with unstructured data. It brings the cloud into existing DXi environments and lets companies implement a DR or compliance solution easily.
Quantum Q-Cloud Services enables companies to go quickly from cloud planning to cloud doing, for a monthly payment.
Sponsored by Quantum