The Cloud: Transforming How We Manage Storage Infrastructure

When I first heard of ‘The Cloud,’ I thought it was just marketing jargon used by technology companies to create a false new market.

In reality, The Cloud, in its various forms, is re-defining how we access, utilize, and manage software, hardware, and IT services.

The concept of a utility-based model has driven efficiencies into a now-archaic means of purchase and consumption by both individuals and corporations. Just think of all the things we access and utilize through a cloud model:

-Google Suite

Its adoption is accelerated through its ease of use, limited upfront costs, and global accessibility. The increased usage of these cloud-based solutions has created an exponential growth in the underlying data stored by these providers.

User files and associated data make up the majority of the data cloud providers store–from documents to pictures and videos, and it’s always increasing. At times we contribute without realizing it: recently I was at the airport and needed to review a forecast spreadsheet. I logged on to my account, accessed the spreadsheet via our cloud provider, made comments and edits, and shared it with others. We have become so comfortable and take for granted ease of access to documents anywhere in the world. Our provider charges us per user, per month, and as our company grows we can simply expand the number of users.

The storage infrastructure that supports the underlying cloud infrastructure is primarily Network Attached Storage (NAS), managed using CIFS and NFS protocols. Another form that’s gaining momentum is Object based Storage Devices (OSD), managed via SCSI command for OSD.

Many questions arise in managing Object infrastructure:

  • Which files should we store where?
  • How do we maintain primary and secondary sources of data for disaster recovery and business continuity?
  • How do we continuously tier between different layers of storage for optimization?
  • What kind of automated, policy-based management and movement of the data do we need, while providing users seamless access?

As the cloud matures in its incarnation and data continues to be core for decision-making, the need to manage and optimize storage infrastructure will be vital.


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