Hybrid Cloud Storage helps Organizations Contain Costs, Address Reliability and Security

Article by Govind Desikan

Hybrid Cloud Storage can be the right approach while evaluating expansion of storage systems, which can help reduce costs, increase reliability and security while helping attain high scalability

Govind Desikan, Head - Business Development, Cloud Services and Strategy, Netmagic Solutions

Hybrid cloud storage or cloud-integrated storage is a strategy that enables managing storage using both local and off-site resources. It behaves as a homogeneous storage system. Hybrid cloud storage is most often implemented by using proprietary commercial storage software, by using a cloud storage appliance that serves as a gateway between on-premise and public cloud storage or by using an application program interface (API) to access the cloud storage.

The technology behind hybrid cloud storage is a full-featured on-premise storage system that integrates with the cloud. Organizations can create a hybrid model or architecture by storing their data locally and then protecting it with snapshots maintained on-premise and in the cloud. Here, the dormant or less frequently used data can automatically and seamlessly be tiered to the cloud, thus ensuring adequate space locally for new data.

Typically, the technologies that are put to use for hybrid cloud storage are storage appliance based. These appliances provide for a mechanism to incorporate the policies and encryption algorithm to encrypt the data while on transit. These appliances act as a super-set environment and are also responsible for syncing the data between them and cloud storage. The type of storage within the organization and the cloud environment need not be the same, and optimal storage environment on the public cloud ensures a cost-effective hybrid cloud storage option.

So why is it better to use the hybrid cloud storage approach?

The approach is often sought after when an organization is looking at expanding their storage requirements. A hybrid cloud storage solution can bring down the costs in such a scenario drastically and get much better capacity storage in the cloud with the same amount that is being invested on expanding the existing storage. Similarly, backups and other non-trivial data can be moved over to hybrid cloud storage solution. This too can bring in cost reduction.

Simply put, the cost reduction can be expected based on specific business tipping points and not in all situations.

Data travelling between a cloud storage provider and the host needs to be moved reliably. Reliable delivery means ensuring data transfers are completed successfully and acknowledgements received in the correct order. Appliances for hybrid cloud storage convert local protocol instructions to Web-based APIs such as Representational State Transfer (REST), which use simplified I/O commands that perform read, write and delete of data stored as objects. In addition, data integrity is maintained by storing metadata containing write time stamps with the content itself. The time stamps allow data to be reconstructed in the correct order, in the event of a failure.

Most of the hybrid storage cloud solution provides security at multiple levels.

  • Firstly, secure access to cloud storage provider, based on Cloud Service Providers authentication mechanism.
  • Secondly, it encrypts data in transit across the network using protocols such as SSL/ TLS.
  • Thirdly, it also protects data at rest within the cloud provider’s storage environment. Therefore hybrid cloud storage solution provides security across all layers of data

So where does one start and what are the key considerations to address?

There are many ways to start on the Hybrid Cloud Storage journey, and many starting points exist. But it is essential to build a strong foundation to reap maximum benefits from the strategy. An ideal way to start would be as illustrated below:

  • Business use-case of hybrid cloud
  • Identify the right set of application and data that can leverage the hybrid cloud storage solution in an optimal way
  • Detail out the cost implication of expanding in-house storage vis-à-vis Hybrid Cloud Storage
  • Pilot the solution and define clear data SLA requirements

CIOs should carefully examine the reliability and performance of various approaches to a hybrid cloud storage strategy. As you migrate, traditional storage infrastructure to integrate with the cloud to make it hybrid cloud storage, it is essential to keep a close watch on performance, data protection and cost of the overall project.

It would be interesting to know at what stage of the cloud journey you are, and at what point you will be looking at the storage strategy to integrate.

Write in to have a detailed discussion on various methods, architectures, considerations that one needs to look at – and it will be insightful to know your journey too.