Transitioning to the Cloud with Data Defined Storage

By Shabaz Ali, CEO and President, Tarmin
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By Shabaz Ali, CEO and President, Tarmin

Data is a torrent that has flowed into every area of the global economy. 100s of trillions of bytes are generated every minute by people, mobile devices and sensors, much of it flowing through the cloud. Meanwhile, organizations are interacting with customers in entirely new ways, generating tremendous amounts of unstructured data and contributing to the big data phenomenon. Information technologies have evolved in phases to this point; from the First Platform of IT based on classic mainframes and terminal interfaces, limited to 10s of thousands of users and gigabytes of data through the Second Platform of familiar client/server personal computing systems, scaling to millions of users and terabytes of data. Now, a new wave of business solutions has arrived, the Third Platform, created for new analytics technologies to gain value from data. It is built on all cloud environments, driven by increasingly mobile devices and data, growing social platforms with billions of users and data scaling into the Petabytes or Exabyte levels. 

Large players like IBM and EMC actively promote cloud computing which forms the foundations of the Third Platform. Cloud, at its core, is about accelerating access to data, anytime, anywhere, enabling a revolution of new business models capitalizing on big data analytics, mobile and social technologies.

While technology has always changed relentlessly, the time scale is far more compressed with consumer driven IT, customers and employees expecting to engage anywhere, anytime and from any device. Organizations are migrating their services to the cloud for new opportunities and growth for a more interactive engagement with their users, improving   customer loyalty and retention, while accelerating the time to trial, test, deploy and start using a business solution. 

The consumerization of IT has led to companies like Drop box, Box, and CloudOn causing a shift in workplace culture, enabling cost effective alternatives to internal IT providers. These high volume data storage offerings combined  with SaaS model applications reduce several roadblocks including   user adoption, growth, integration costs, and maintenance overhead  leading to faster time to value, lower costs and empowered employees.

However, this improved business agility is a double-edged sword. It puts corporate IT in a challenging situation, competing with third party cloud services, needing to strike the balance of appropriately securing and governing data, providing certain levels of reliability and available uptimes while meeting end user expectations of flexibility and delivering a price point comparable with global players like Amazon and Google with massive economies of scale. 

As corporate IT evolves to address these business needs, so too have the new breed of technologies that challenge current enterprise incumbents, delivering on the demands of organizations seeking innovative solutions for data access and mobility.Data Defined Storage takes a data centric approach to planning a transition to the cloud. It enables organizations to prioritize and re-think data requirements first, building a unified storage infrastructure based on the value of data. Active storage pools might reside on-premise through a private cloud, while most or all of the inactive data can be pushed to public cloud storage; delivering hybrid solutions fully under the control of corporate IT, which are both cost-effective and efficient. Multiple storage pools can be created, based on performance, protection and frequency of data access.

To further reduce TCO, data centric solutions provide intelligent pool-to-pool tiering based on the value of data over its lifecycle, and distributed object deduplication and compression, reducing capacity requirements within virtualized storage pools.The beauty of a data centric  approach is that, no matter how many different storage pools are created, all data  repositories can be unified into globally  distributed data stores—whether on  premise or in the cloud—and are exposed  through a single global namespace for  easy access and collaboration.

“Cloud, at its core, is about accelerating access to data, anytime, anywhere, enabling a revolution of new business models capitalizing on big data analytics, mobile and social technologies”

As organizations plan their transition to the cloud, data risk is cited as the number one concern. With the addition of third party file sharing services, BYOD and a growing mobile workforce, organizations must minimize corporate risk by looking for comprehensive cloud solutions that facilitate data collaboration, and address the needs for enterprise-wide data security and privacy related to mobility across   storage, servers and smart devices.  

“Cloud, at its core, is about accelerating access to data, anytime, anywhere, enabling a revolution of new business models capitalizing on big data analytics, mobile and social technologies”

By taking a data centric approach, organizations can integrate their cloud environments with their existing security models to deliver identity driven compliance and data security, even across native sync-n-share. This allows enterprise-scale file sharing and collaboration for all mobile users so that  individual user and team accounts can be created for secure access from anywhere and any device.

Through this integration, all data access can be authenticated, audited and monitored via a transparent data security solution that leverages existing organizational policies. It provides end-to-end data protection, including managing unauthorized access and inadvertent or malicious modification or deletion across all storage, servers, infrastructures and smart devices, transparently and non- disruptively. Seamless integration with enterprise-wide security models set by internal IT administrator leaves CIOs confident that their policies will remain intact even if their data resides in the cloud.

While cloud can deliver significant benefits, there can be hidden costs as well. For example, cloud provisioning and integration APIs do not provide access to data already stored on file servers or NAS devices. As a result, third-party file gateways are often required to maintain existing file-based workflows. Equally, data governance or migration software may be required to identify suitable files and move them to the cloud store.  Additionally, e-Discovery solutions may be added to the stack in response to corporate investigations, litigation or regulatory inquiries.         

Conversely, data centric solutions simplify this complex web of systems, meeting all these requirements within a single solution. The multiple access and protocol support breaks down barriers for the growing mobile workforce—easing the journey to the cloud and adding significant value and flexibility for a geographically dispersed organization.

By using data Defined Storage Solutions, which employ a data centric approach to managing data in the cloud, organizations can create more comprehensive, flexible cloud storage solutions that will help reduce costs, meet compliance mandates and support worry free data accessibility and security.

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