No Room in the Data Center – Secondary Storage Needs Cloud Integration – Cohesity Briefing Note

Most data growth in the enterprise is happening because of secondary storage use cases like backup, archive, and data re-use for test/dev or analytics (also known as copy data). In most cases, the capacity of secondary data is 10 to 20 times that of primary storage. Storage systems targeting this area of the market focus on trying to deliver reasonable performance and massive scalability at very cost efficient price points. The challenge for many data centers is not whether these system can scale but where that scaling will occur since most organizations are running out of on-premises data center floor space.

The Cloud for Secondary Storage

Data centers that are out of physical on-premises floor space are looking for ways to reduce internal consumption. Public cloud storage seems to be an option, but getting from here to there is a challenge. First, there is certainly the need in most of the secondary storage use cases to have an on-premises copy of some of the data. Second, there is the challenge of identifying and moving the right data to public cloud storage at the right time.

Finally, there is concern over if and how this data will be usable in the cloud. Forward thinking IT professionals want to use the cloud as more than a giant data dumping ground. If data can actually be operated on in the cloud then IT can leverage cloud compute resources to power initiatives like DR as a Service (DRaaS), cloud based test/dev and cloud based analytics. Further, they could use cloud services like facial recognition or textual indexing.

The problem is most secondary storage options, if they use the cloud at all, look at the cloud as a digital graveyard. Most can copy data to the cloud, but they can’t tier or operate on that data in the cloud.

Introducing Cohesity Cloud Integration

Cohesity is a next-generation secondary storage solution that consolidates and converges secondary storage use cases. Prior to companies like Cohesity coming to market, secondary storage was a hodgepodge of siloed storage systems, each with a specific purpose. An organization would often have multiple systems for backup, one or two for replication, another for archive, and then separate second tier storage systems to store copy data for test/dev and analytics. Cohesity solves that problem by converging all of these use cases onto a single platform.

The next logical step for Cohesity is the cloud. They’ve released three cloud features; CloudArchive, CloudTier and CloudReplicate. CloudReplicate enables a local, on-premises Cohesity cluster to replicate data to Cohesity Cloud Edition – a Cohesity cluster running in the cloud.

CloudArchive is designed to allow the cloud to be a tape replacement. Old backup images are copied to the cloud based on policy set by the customer for long term retention. It provides deduplication and compression to drive down the amount of cloud storage that needs to be consumed and it provides encryption for an extra layer of security.

CloudTier provides the ability to tier cold data from the on-premises Cohesity system to the cloud. The combination enables the on-premises implementation of the system to meet the demands of secondary storage use cases that require higher performance. It is used to provide the recovery performance that mission-critical applications need and the IO performance tester/developers and data analysis personnel need to complete their tasks. But it limits growth; as the data becomes cold, it is tiered in the cloud, then automatically tiered back on-premises as it becomes hot again.

CloudReplicate completes the vision by replicating data to Cohesity Cloud Edition, a copy of the Cohesity software running in the public cloud. CloudReplicate is for two types of customers. First, customers that don’t have a viable second site can use the cloud as a replication target to meet disaster recovery requirements. Second, customers that want to operate on data in the cloud can leverage the complete set of services the on-premises Cohesity solution provides. They can apply cloud compute resources to enable disaster recovery as a service, perform test/dev work and to use cloud-based services to analyze cloud-based services.

For many organizations, the public cloud means Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3). In other words, for them Amazon is the cloud. Cohesity’s DataPlatform Cloud Edition is validated for AWS Cloud and the company has achieved Advanced Tier status in Amazon Partner Network (APN). Cloud Edition is also available for Microsoft Azure and will be available for Google Cloud in the future.

StorageSwiss Take

Gaining control over secondary storage is a key first step in any data management strategy, and Cohesity’s DataPlatform provides that capability. But as organizations gain control over secondary storage, they often realize they need to slow its growth, at-least on-premises. A cloud extension is a logical direction to look. The problem is most secondary storage vendors fail to have a true cloud strategy, instead they look at the cloud as a digital dumping ground where data goes to die instead of to live again.

Coheisty’s DataPlatform Cloud Edition enables organizations to move to the cloud in a logical progression that may start with a simple use case of the digital dumping ground. Then they can expand their use case to use the cloud to slow the growth of on-premises secondary storage and then eventually extend the use case to where the cloud copy can be operated on just like the on-premises copy.

George Crump is the Chief Marketing Officer of StorONE. Prior to StorONE, George spent almost 14 years as the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland, which StorONE acquired in March of 2020. In his spare time, he continues to write blogs on Storage Switzerland to educate IT professionals on all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought-after public speaker. With over 30 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, SAN, Virtualization, Cloud, and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration, and product selection.

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