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A New Storage Model for the Next Generation Data Center

Contributed Article by Kavitha Mariappan, Maginatics

Virtualization has transformed data center operations, and now storage operations also need to keep up with this evolution. Until now, a hardware-centric data storage model (featuring monolithic architectures that were designed to scale-up incrementally) has driven IT teams. This legacy construct introduces tremendous challenges related to scale, performance, cost and day-to-day operations in the virtualized data center. Now, with the emergence of cloud technologies, a plethora of end point devices and clients and the consumerization of IT services, the enterprise needs a new storage paradigm.

Foundation of a new storage model

Object storage is rapidly emerging as the technology of choice for large storage environments. Object storage provides the scalability, efficiency and economics essential to enterprise-class organizations regardless of whether the data is located on- or off-premises. Object storage is highly cost-effective for organizations that require solutions that are simple to deploy yet massively scalable, able to accommodate billions of objects per namespace.

Object storage uses a flat architecture that stores files as one or more "objects" distributed across one or more "containers." Data may be spread across different storage pools - such as an on-premises object store and an off-premises cloud service, which together comprise a "hybrid" environment - with high scalability and no single point of failure. As such, object storage provides a fully distributed storage system that can be integrated directly into applications and workloads or used for backup, active archiving and data retention.

According to Nikolay Yamakawa of the 451 Group, "Next-generation object storage may change enterprise architectures by enabling multiple access points in addition to cost-effective storage and scalability."

As an example of object storage in use today, AWS S3, the world's largest and most widely known object storage system, stores 2 trillion objects. Besides Amazon, there are myriad other object storage solution and service providers, and enterprises are using a wide variety of endpoint devices to access the storage capacity they provide, from mobile phones and tablets to PCs and Macs to servers and virtual machines.

Leveraging object storage

Enterprises that wish to leverage object storage have two essential choices: either rewrite their applications to access object storage, or implement a purpose-built solution that "translates" files into objects. The former is typically a non-starter because of the significant cost and complexity it entails, so the latter - a purpose-built,solution - is generally the preferable approach. There are several key requirements: 
  • Transparency - The object storage solution should be transparent end users and the IT organization, providing access to files in the cloud as easily as from a NAS (or "filer").
  • Performance - The access to storage in the cloud should be fast and highly efficient, enabling efficient collaboration among geographically- and even globally distributed teams.
  • Security - Most enterprises will require that data remain "failsafe secure" and under full IT control both in flight and at rest; i.e., in the object store, on endpoint devices and everywhere in between.
  • Flexibility - The solution should be able to accommodate any client device and work with a broad variety of data center applications and strategies.

Choosing a solution

The ideal solution is an enterprise cloud storage platform that has been designed from the ground up for software-designed data centers and the cloud. The platform should eliminate the need for expensive legacy appliances and hardware gateways by running as a VM on standard servers. It should combine a global namespace, strong data consistency, WAN optimization, end-to-end security, application compatibility, and edge and mobile connectivity into a single integrated fabric that presents a highly efficient and secure "virtual filer" for the enterprise. Furthermore, the ideal solution should include endpoint agents that enable all device classes (mobile, desktop, server, VM) running popular operating systems to access storage securely and efficiently from the centrally managed object store(s). Finally, the solution should support all major public, private and hybrid object stores to afford the user maximum flexibility.

The whole idea of object storage in the cloud is to provide speed, scalability, universally- controlled access and flexibility for both enterprise IT and end users. By choosing a purpose-built cloud storage platform, enterprises can fully leverage object storage to further their business objectives.

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Kavitha Mariappan is VP of Marketing at Maginatics
Published Monday, July 28, 2014 7:15 AM by David Marshall
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Comments
A New Storage Model for the Next Generation Data Center - 1stel - (Author's Link) - August 14, 2014 12:20 AM
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