A Step-by-Step Path to Full Cloud Utilization

The Use Cases for a Cloud Data Fabric

The cloud data fabric (CDF) allows organizations without a cloud pedigree to take full advantage of cloud storage and compute resources. The CDF also enables the organization to move to the cloud at its own pace without ending up with dozens of siloed solutions in the end.

Step 1: Data Protection

The first step for many organizations is using the cloud for data protection storage. Since the CDF presents both on-premises S3 Object Storage and Cloud Storage as a POSIX compliant file system, backup software that writes backup data to an NFS or SMB share can leverage the CDF to migrate backup copies to the cloud.

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Tape Migration

Some organizations may want to use this capability to archive old backup jobs to the cloud instead of to tape. The cloud archive has a few advantages over tape archives. First, it is easier to ensure data durability. While tape media is reliable, scanning those media for potential weak spots is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Cloud storage automatically verifies data integrity and automatically takes corrective action. Second, the access times to cloud storage archives are significantly faster than tape archives.

The CDF helps by presenting an NFS/SMB share to which the backup software can write data. Additionally, some CDF solutions provide performance enhancements both in data transfer time and in cloud storage performance. To mitigate cost the CDF should support all available cloud tiers, especially the cloud provider’s “cold” tier.

Store Veeam Backup Files in the Cloud

Backup solutions like Veeam provide technology to deliver highly efficient block-level incremental backups. The problem is the creation of new synthetic fulls from those backups is time-consuming and traditional backup storage is too slow for the task. The CDF’s object storage acceleration technology improves performance by as much as 400% making cloud-based synthetic fulls possible.

Step 2: File Server Consolidation

Another early-stage use case for the CDF is file server consolidation. Today’s organizations have data distributed to dozens of locations, multiple data centers, remote office/branch office data centers and multiple cloud providers. The CDF enables the organization to consolidate all file servers to the cloud. The organization can create one NFS/SMB mount point, and store all file data there. The acceleration of both file transfer times and object storage helps again by ensuring excellent performance without the hassle of syncing data.

For an organization that must have local on-premises storage, the CDF enables the organization to turn any object storage system into a fast SMB/NFS file server. The CDF can also archive from the on-premises object storage system to cloud archive, limiting the growth of the on-premises investment.

The result is the organization has a single file server that consolidates all data for all offices and is location independent.

Step 3: Application Migration

The next step is application migration. Without the CDF, application migration is most challenging. Organizations have to lift and shift their application to the cloud. The process includes transferring the application and all its data as well as modifying the application to work in the cloud. Since the CDF provides NFS/SMB and iSCSI block storage access, there are no changes required to the application. Again, thanks to the CDF’s transfer acceleration and object storage acceleration, the organization can migrate the application much faster, and the organization may also find that the application performs adequately on lower cost cloud object storage.

Step 4: Empower a Hybrid Strategy

Most organizations don’t want to eliminate their data centers with the cloud, only augment them. The challenge is that using the traditional migration and transformation methods to get the application running in the cloud, means that moving those same applications back on-premises, becomes more difficult. Since the CDF requires no changes going to the cloud, it also requires no changes coming back from the cloud. The transfer back and forth is seamless.

With the CDF, the organization can leverage the cloud for moving workloads to the cloud temporarily when it runs out of data center resource because of a spike in workloads. It can also use the data center as a DR site to cloud-hosted applications if there is a cloud failure, IT can then move the application back to on-premises. These capabilities require another essential capability of the CDF, continuous synchronization of data to and from the cloud. Most migration utilities are a one-way, single-use product. The CDF is a continual use, bidirectional solution.

Conclusion

The cloud provides on-demand access to resources like compute and storage. To fully optimize the value of the cloud requires a holistic solution like a cloud data fabric the enables the seamless movement of applications and data back and forth from the cloud.

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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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