Storage for hybrid cloud: Choice with consistency

It’s a great time for data storage. I know how many will react to this statement: “Is this guy serious? Enterprise storage revenues have been lackluster; the cloud is crushing storage vendors; and companies are moving data to the cloud because cloud storage is free.”

In reality, things are a bit different. It’s true that cloud computing is transforming the IT landscape and that companies are leveraging the cloud for compute and storage to tap into efficiencies and new business models. But the above claims fall short in a few ways:

  • A lot of data – I’ve seen estimates ranging from 40% to 55% – is and will continue to be stored on-premises
  • Cloud storage isn’t exactly free, and it can actually be quite costly

The fact that the ratio of on-premises to off-premises is about 1:1 jibes with the fact that IT is shifting to a model known as hybrid cloud. The latter is a combination of on-premises and off-premises infrastructure, with enterprise data stored in multiple locations.ibm_caihybridit_datagram_heretostay

And that’s why it’s a great time for data storage. Emerging models usher in new opportunities for forward-looking companies (and vendors). Still, enterprises should be selective when choosing storage; storage that provides choice with consistency and that “understands and treats” data according to its inherent value will serve companies best in hybrid cloud environments.

Choice with consistency
The mix of on- and off-premises infrastructure means that companies require storage primed for a hybrid cloud environment. Data needs to flow easily across storage infrastructure wherever infrastructure resides – on- and off-premises and in any cloud. 
checks2More significantly, storage should offer organizations choice with consistency. Companies should have a choice of consuming storage in different ways – e.g., as integrated systems, as software, and as cloud services. And there should be consistency in user experience, regardless of the way storage is deployed by a company today and in the future. Software defined storage is key to turning choice with consistency into a reality.

Data temperatures
Organizations will choose storage based on their unique business needs. And these needs are tied to a great extent to different “temperatures” of data.  From studies of data undertaken by IBM, data heat maps show interesting patterns:

  • 40% of data is “very warm to hot” (with approximately 15% being very hot)
  • 60% of data is infrequently or never used

And irrespective of temperatures and heat maps, all or most data should be protected for business continuity and/or regulatory reasons.

These patterns and the need to protect data can help companies understand where data should be placed:

  • Off-premises
    • Companies should consider moving the 60% of data that is accessed infrequently to more inexpensive cloud options given that: there is an economic case to do so, and constraints such as regulations and compliance do not require that data remain on-premises.
    • Companies should explore attractive cloud backup and disaster recovery for the preponderance of the data that they need to protect
  • On-premises
    • Enterprises should deploy flash for the 40% of data that is very warm to hot 
    • For the colder 60% of data required to stay on-premises, companies should resort to more inexpensive disk and tape media

Proven storage in hybrid clouds
IBM Storage offerings act as the solid foundation for hybrid environments at numerous companies. Choice with consistency empowers organizations to deploy storage on- and off-premises and in various clouds in a way that suits their requirements and allows them flexibility to change in the future in a non-disruptive way. The offerings also allow for the automatic movement of data to the most appropriate medium and location, in line with the various temperatures, or value, of data.

In coming weeks, we will highlight a number of companies deploying various IBM Storage offerings in hybrid cloud environments, so keep your eyes peeled on your social media feeds. Speaking of which, let’s connect so that you get the scoop in real time:

And, finally, next week’s #FlashEverywhere events are very relevant to the future of storage in hybrid clouds! I’ll be blogging about that as well so stay tuned. In the meantime, please register for the webcast by clicking here