An on-premises object storage solution is a versatile data platform for enterprises that can be used to archive old data to and used as a backup target and even replace some NAS use cases. But one of the challenges with object storage is how to protect the object store itself and how to archive data off of it. The cloud is a viable option however, all too often, if cloud support is available, it is limited to Amazon AWS. With the introduction of Microsoft Azure Archive Blob Storage (AABS) organizations now have a compelling alternative.
The Secondary Object Storage Problem
Object storage systems do need to be protected, especially in the case of archive where they may be storing the last known good copy of a file or data set. For most organizations, that meant buying two object storage systems, one in the primary storage system and one in another location.
Other than the obvious cost disadvantage of buying two object storage systems, it also meant consumption of additional data center floor space and it meant the organization had to power and cool the second system. In many cases, the IT staff at the second site was unfamiliar with the object storage system or they had no IT staff at the second location, which lead to further management burden the staff at the primary data center had to face. Also, for the most part, the second system was solely on standby, only receiving data from the primary system. Hundreds of TBs is a lot of data to have sitting on standby. Finally, the secondary object storage system is another piece of equipment that has to be maintained.
The Object to Cloud Use Cases
There are three primary use cases for integrating the cloud into the on-premises object storage system. First, it can be an off-site backup for the primary object store. Also since it is in the cloud, the organization does not have to worry about data center floor space, nor does it have power and cooling responsibilities.
Cloud integration into the object store also enables the cloud to act as an even colder archive. In this use case, dormant data may sit initially on the on-premises object store for the first three years of dormancy and then be moved to the cloud as a cold archive after that. On-premises object storage provides relatively fast access for data that has the highest chance of being recalled, recently archived data, and cold storage in the cloud is ideal for data that may never be recalled again.
Finally, depending on how the object storage vendor stores data in the cloud, the organization could leverage cloud compute to perform other activities on that data. For example, it could use cloud compute to transcribe an audio or video file.
Why Microsoft Azure Archive Blob Storage?
Amazon, when it comes to long term data storage, is the market leader with its Glacier offering. But Amazon requires a different API to interface with Glacier than Amazon’s S3 and the service level agreements of Glacier are less than impressive. And the service has been the price leader – until now. Microsoft’s AABS leverages the same API to communicate between Azure tiers and it is prices very competitively to Glacier.
The only remaining gap is how to get data to AABS or any of Azure’s offerings.
Introducing Caringo Swarm Hybrid Cloud for Azure
Caringo Software’s Swarm is an object storage solution. The organization can buy the software and load it on their own servers or work with Caringo partners for a turnkey solution. Caringo is unique in that it has invested a lot of its development resources to help its customers get data into the object store. They can automatically, based on policy, move data from Windows File Servers and NetApp Filers to Swarm.
Caringo‘s newest data movement solution allows data to keep flowing from Caringo Swarm directly to Microsoft Azure Blob Storage. The initial release will focus on leveraging Azure for compute services and off-site data protection. The release will also enable organizations with S3 compliant applications to access Azure based data via the S3 protocol. In future releases Caringo will add the capability to tier to ABS for cold storage.
Since Caringo stores data in the Azure Blob format, Azure services can access and act on the data directly. This enables data to be content indexed, transcribed or any number of other functions. Leveraging the cloud as more than a storage repository is a big differentiator compared to legacy cold archive options.
A connection to the cloud reduces the cost of getting into object storage because organizations no longer have to purchase redundant systems, which should expand its potential market. While the capability to leverage Amazon AWS did exist, Azure support gives organizations greater flexibility and access to additional compute services since Caringo‘s implementation stores data in native Azure Blob format. With the Caringo solution in place, an organization could archive all of its in-active data off of its Windows file servers to Caringo Swarm and the have it protected in the Azure Cloud.