Can Data Management be Done Better in the Cloud?

Backup, archive and managing secondary storage capacities are a constant thorn in IT’s side. Backup is often a disaggregated mess, and IT doesn’t have time to implement archiving. Secondary storage capacities, thanks to initiatives like IoT and next-generation applications, threaten to drown the data center in a sea of data from which it might never recover. IT planners look to the cloud for relief from the data deluge, but they also find the cloud lacking. In most cases using the cloud only means moving the data management infrastructure it doesn’t mean easing the management burden.

The goal of using the cloud for data management is to move all of an organization’s protected copies, old data, and secondary data to the cloud and let the provider take away the data management thorn. The advantage for the organization is it is now renting the data management infrastructure instead of paying for it all at once.

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Cloud storage is purchased gradually as the organization needs it and IT doesn’t go through an upgrade and refresh process. On-premises infrastructure almost always has an initial buy-in configuration that is more than the organization needs. For example, many object storage systems and data protection appliances have a starting capacity of more than 100TBs. The cloud provides a method for organizations to move into data management gradually, instead of jumping into the deep end of the pool.

The problem is that the cloud provider, especially mega-cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, only provide infrastructure. The organization is “renting” that infrastructure, but the rental fee does not include expertise in how to configure and operate that infrastructure.

The Requirements for Doing Data Management Better in the Cloud

For the cloud to be a better alternative for organizations looking for relief from data management burdens, the cloud needs to provide three essential services that are generally lacking from most providers. First, cloud providers need to deliver data migration services, but data management migration is more than just a one-time movement of data from on-premises to the cloud. The data management processes feed data to the cloud continuously.

Migration also entails assisting in making the connection between on-premises data management applications and the cloud. Organizations don’t want to throw out their investments in these applications; they want to augment or replace the on-premises storage systems those applications use.

The second requirement is data shuttling. The initial set of data to move from on-premises to the cloud may be more than is practical to transmit across an internet connection. Even the highest speed connection may take weeks to get the initial seeding of data into the cloud. The organization may also have years, if not decades of cold data stored on tape that it wants to move to the cloud.

While some providers can ship a transfer appliance on-premises to copy data, it can require days to seed that appliance. Then the organization has to wait for the appliance to get to the cloud data center and have its data copied to cloud storage. If the provider can natively support tape and has experience exporting data, transporting it can save the organizations days if not weeks while the initial seeding process completes.

Finally, the provider needs to provide services to help the organization with both day-to-day data management operations as well as initial strategic planning. The provider should backfill areas where the organization does not have the depth of experience or the available personnel to manage the task.

StorageSwiss Take

To meet these three requirements the provider needs to create a purpose-built data management cloud, which uses a variety of storage protocols including block, object, and deep storage. It also needs to have the expertise to support a wide variety of data management applications. By working with a provider with a purpose-built data management cloud, the organization extracts the full benefit of each of the data management processes, achieving a better return on investment while simplifying its on-premises storage architecture.

To learn more about Purpose-Built Data Management Clouds and how they can help the organization manage its data assets better, watch Storage Switzerland and Iron Mountain on our on demand webinar “3 Steps to Controlling the Secondary Storage Deluge.”

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and 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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