Each of the major cloud providers deliver at least three different types of cloud storage; high performance, archive and cold storage. Each of these storage types share the pay-as-you-go cloud expectation but each differ in terms of cost and performance. The providers also differ in how they architecturally deliver each of these storage types.
Production Cloud Storage
Most people think of cloud storage as a data repository and not as a high performance storage environment. Cloud native applications like databases and artificial intelligence need high performance storage. Providers offer this by using block based flash storage and in some cases RAM. The cloud provider high performance tier compares with on-premises high performance storage.
The storage architecture behind the high performance tier for some providers consists of a separate standalone system. Other providers use object storage throughout their environment. For the high performance tier the vendor’s object storage system emulates a block store, and the provider typically associates flash storage with it. A single standalone system, purpose built for block storage should provide better performance. The emulated system means that the provider has only one storage operating environment to manage.
The key differentiator is when the customer wants to change the service level for a dataset. The provider using the single standalone system needs to move data physically from one tier to another. Typically, the provider automates the process making it transparent to the user. The provider with the single system just needs to change the service level of the data set.
Lessons for the Data Center
The data center needs to initially focus more on the storage operating environment, more so than the actual hardware components. Ideally, the IT planners select a single storage software solution that supports all the needed protocols (Block, NFS, SMB, and Object) and storage use cases (performance, capacity, and retention). With the software in place, organizations select storage hardware based on the use case (flash for performance, hard disk for capacity and object storage for retention).
In our on demand webinar, Storage Switzerland and StorOne compare cloud storage to on-premises storage to determine how IT needs to evolve their storage architecture so it provides a better service to the organization than the cloud.