Solving the Hybrid-Cloud Data Management Problem – Elastifile Briefing Note

Executive leadership wants IT to move the organization to the cloud but does not realize that from a data management perspective, the cloud is akin to the wild, Wild West. To move applications requires refactoring them, and meeting the performance and availability requirements of the application is more of an art than a science. IT needs a cost-effective migration path that leverages legacy protocols and can start on-premises until the timing is right to move to the cloud.

Instead of moving to the cloud all at once, IT would be better off taking a more gradual approach. Priority one is to achieve cloud-like efficiencies in the data center. Organizations need cloud scaling, hardware flexibility and consumption based pricing more so than moving all their data to a remote location. Software defined storage solutions can achieve some of the objectives but seldom can they provide all of those attributes.

At the other end of the spectrum is migration to the cloud, and while cloud migration solutions abound most don’t have the on-premises capabilities to solve the current data center challenges. In most cases, they are point solutions focused solely on application “lift and shift”. The change is often too abrupt to be successful.

IT needs a cloud-like production storage solution that delivers all the cloud attributes right now while at the same time providing a method to move data to the cloud as needed. The storage solution should be able to run in the cloud with an application-compatible interface, so that existing applications can run unchanged, but leveraging the benefits of scalable cloud resources. At the same time, it should provide a mechanism for delivering data to the most appropriate location and storage tier based on need…e.g. on-premises to cloud and or file storage to object storage.

Elastifile – A Cross-Cloud Data Fabric

Elastifile is a cross-cloud data fabric. It has two key components. The first is the Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS). As we discussed in our briefing note “How to Tame Data and Storage Sprawl with a Cross-Cloud Data Fabric”, ECFS is a software defined storage solution that can run on public cloud infrastructure and/or on commodity hardware on-premises.  It brings a powerful combination of enterprise features and cloud flexibility to the data center.

The second component of the Elastifile cross-cloud data fabric is CloudConnect, which delivers granular data tiering between file storage and object storage (e.g. Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage). When leveraged in-cloud, CloudConnect enables application data to reside in the most cost-effective location…i.e. in file storage when needed for active processing and in cost-effective object storage when not actively accessed. This flexibility enables organizations to support bursty workloads, then after deriving the answer or the peak load has passed, results can be pushed to object storage and the compute and storage resources can be spun down to minimize cost. CloudConnect also facilitates data transfer between any on-premises file system and cloud-based object storage, thus providing a migration path for customers seeking a way to shift data into the cloud. Data stored in object format by CloudConnect can then be pulled into ECFS as needed for in-cloud processing, while retaining all of the original file and directory hierarchy information.

Spring 2018 Update

The most important step for an emerging company like Elastifile is to capture customers and the company is certainly making progress on that front. Recently Elastifile announced Silicon Therapeutics as a customer. Silicon Therapeutics needed to perform complex analysis on an increasingly large data set. They also needed to share files across CPU and GPU processing workflows. At the same time, they needed to keep storage costs down while simplifying the solution so the company could focus on science. It’s a classic HPC use case but Silicon Therapeutics wanted anything but a typical solution, they were looking to the cloud to give them a competitive advantage.

Silicon Therapeutics decided on the Google Cloud Platform for scalable compute and Elastifile for scalable storage. ECFS provides a shared file system enabling CPU and GPU resources to share a single namespace. With Google Cloud, they can start up additional CPUs, GPUs and Elastifile infrastructure, as the customer’s demands require.

As a result of Elastifile’s success at Silicon Therapeutics and others, Elastifile’s collaboration with Google has gained significant momentum, as evidenced by the announcement of Elastifile’s availability on Google’s “Cloud Launcher”.

StorageSwiss Take

Sometimes the most important announcement a vendor can make is not technology related. While advancing the product is important, showing how the product is being used in the real world and how industry leaders are accepting the product, is equally important. Elastifile checks both of those boxes with this announcement, demonstrating several very interesting customer wins and accelerating momentum with Google to compliment its already excellent Amazon relationship.

George Crump is the Chief Marketing Officer at VergeIO, the leader in Ultraconverged Infrastructure. Prior to VergeIO he was Chief Product Strategist at StorONE. Before assuming roles with innovative technology vendors, George spent almost 14 years as the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland. 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. Before 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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