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Is It Time to Look Beyond the Cloud?

For some, it may be difficult to look beyond the logistics of public cloud

For many businesses that haven’t yet formulated their cloud adoption plans, the notion of looking beyond the cloud may sound a bit peculiar. After all, isn’t cloud the final frontier that promises to transform traditional IT infrastructure into a control panel offering limitless resources on-demand? That is certainly the outcome that many businesses aspire to. The truth is, regardless of the outcome, much can be gleaned from examining how cloud infrastructure influences business IT efficiencies.

Let’s take a look at public cloud storage and how it has inspired new ways of thinking when it comes to storage infrastructure management. For some, it may be difficult to look beyond the logistics of public cloud storage which often dictate moving data into a distant data center and relinquishing a certain amount of control. However, the benefits of adopting the cloud bring IT efficiencies that could not be otherwise realized, eliminating one of the more burdensome aspects of data storage management.

What burdensome aspect is that? Specifically, the sprawl of storage infrastructure:

  • In the primary data center – Storage arrays have a recurring life cycle that demands upgrading and replacing equipment on a regular basis as capacity needs increase.  The process is costly, disruptive, risky and causes overlap of equipment costs, underutilization and overpayment for unused capacity. Read all about the storage array lifecycle here and learn how a large school system changed that pattern once and for all.
  • In the remote office or branch office – While recent surveys such as ESG’s Remote Office/Branch Office Technology Trends show that a large number of businesses would prefer to centralize their data storage, the numbers reveal that most still have data storage at remote sites, primarily consisting of SAN or NAS devices. This not only perpetuates the management lifecycle described above, but does so for unmanned sites with no dedicated administrative staff, clearly an IT management nightmare.
  • For disaster recovery – Replicated storage infrastructure for disaster recovery costs as much to purchase, run and maintain as primary storage infrastructure and has the same life cycle issues described above, not to mention redundant and costly facilities.
  • For peaks and valleys in demand – Here, storage infrastructure remains primarily idle and unused except when capacity needs increase for certain projects, testing, development or analytics that may occur seasonally

The solution for this sprawl does not necessarily involve moving all storage infrastructure to the cloud. For many businesses, that is simply not a practical, realistic or fathomable near-term solution. However, the consolidation of storage infrastructure is clearly a viable strategy.

A reasonable approach might be to leave the main data center as is but start to address data storage sprawl that is occurring in remote locations. What if you could reduce the remote and branch office storage footprint to a single piece of software per site?  What if you could substantially reduce the storage capacity required for disaster recovery while at the same time pooling storage resources to address peaks and valleys in demand? Sprawl would diminish, utilization would improve and administrative burden would lessen.

The cloud can indeed be a means to this end. However, there are other options to consider. For instance, you could use CloudArray as your storage gateway and have a choice of consolidating the sprawl to a public cloud, private cloud, existing storage infrastructure or a combination of all three. Bottom line?  You can reduce sprawl without having to rely on any particular type of cloud, realize significant cost and administrative savings, and replace your ever expanding storage footprint with software, thereby eliminating a complex life cycle.

Keep in mind there is nothing magical about the storage infrastructure that backs cloud storage. Rather, cloud storage is all about the methodologies that squeeze the utmost efficiency out of commoditized storage components, culminating from years of experience on the part of cloud providers.  For this reason, businesses need to look beyond adopting cloud — and instead, look to adopt cloud methodologies that can bring them substantial IT efficiencies.

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More Stories By Nicos Vekiarides

Nicos Vekiarides is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of TwinStrata. He has spent over 20 years in enterprise data storage, both as a business manager and as an entrepreneur and founder in startup companies.

Prior to TwinStrata, he served as VP of Product Strategy and Technology at Incipient, Inc., where he helped deliver the industry's first storage virtualization solution embedded in a switch. Prior to Incipient, he was General Manager of the storage virtualization business at Hewlett-Packard. Vekiarides came to HP with the acquisition of StorageApps where he was the founding VP of Engineering. At StorageApps, he built a team that brought to market the industry's first storage virtualization appliance. Prior to StorageApps, he spent a number of years in the data storage industry working at Sun Microsystems and Encore Computer. At Encore, he architected and delivered Encore Computer's SP data replication products that were a key factor in the acquisition of Encore's storage division by Sun Microsystems.