Enterprise, Meet Today’s Cloud Storage
It seems like only yesterday that cloud storage was viewed as a great place to put data that …. businesses could afford to lose.
Yes, those were the days. At the time, companies were looking to reduce costs by freeing up expensive on-premises storage by moving data that wasn’t critical to the functioning of the business to cloud storage. “Non-business critical data” or “low risk data” was defined differently based on organizational priorities and requirements, but basically, it was any data that a company could lose without missing a beat. From a financial perspective, this was a low-risk, high-return investment based on the potential for significant cost savings, adjusted for the importance of the data (and the likelihood of losing that data). A strong value proposition for companies any way you look at it.
Looking back, we should have predicted what would happen next. The potential for cost savings with cloud storage was too great to ignore. Soon, IT administrators began evolving their cloud strategies with different types of data. They challenged the risk return ratio for cloud storage by pushing the limits of availability and performance, by assuming more risk, and by putting more “important” data in the cloud which:
- Significantly expanded the types of data they felt comfortable moving to cloud storage – including mission critical data, data that required specific security, compliance, and data protection strategies
- Added more data (higher volumes), and larger data files (objects)
- Employed cloud storage for long-term retention strategies (years), to satisfy geographic requirements, and as an alternative to second data centers
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Yes, there were companies that lost data with select vendors. And yes, some vendors simply went out of business – which obviously had a negative effect on customers. But, in general, cloud storage has been a winner in terms of IT strategies and investments. So, it should come as no surprise that cloud storage has been one of the fastest growing IT segments in recent memory.
“Past performance is no guarantee of future returns”
As they say with other investments – nothing is guaranteed – especially with growing expectations. However, with cloud storage, and IT in general, service providers are not standing still. Cloud storage has evolved over recent years to meet these higher expectations from every angle. In other words, today’s cloud storage isn’t what it used to be – it’s MUCH more. As customers require more for their data (in part because of increased security, compliance, retention periods, and other legal requirements that have been set at the national or international level), the scrutiny on service providers has increased in kind. Some basic questions that are asked during evaluation or proof-of-concept testing include:
- Data access: How do you protect against data center outages and regional outages?
- Data protection: What is the risk of losing my data?
- Compliance: What compliance certifications do you have?
- Costs: What will my costs be?
- Support: If I also have on-premises storage and something fails between the datacenter and the cloud, who do I call?
These are important questions to ask. Sometimes cloud vendors promote their flashy interface or their niche services when what customers really want (at least with cloud storage) is availability and data protection assurances. The good news is that major vendors get this – and focus on providing services that keep data online and protected. One of these major vendors is Dell Technologies with our Virtustream Storage Cloud offering. Virtustream Storage Cloud was designed to meet enterprise expectations from top to bottom. For us, we pride ourselves on delivering on the above in ways that other vendors can’t. For those that plan to attend Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas this year, be sure and attend the session: Virtustream Storage Cloud Expert Panel: Simplifying Cloud Storage For Dell EMC Solutions to hear about how Virtustream Storage Cloud focuses on providing cloud storage for archive, backup, and long-term retention of mission-critical data, and how we make it simple.
For those that can’t attend, here is a sneak preview of the Virtustream Storage Cloud session – focusing on how we answer the top five questions above:
- Data access: How do you protect against datacenter outages and regional outages?
The key to data access in cloud storage is to have geographic redundancy. Obviously, this is true as it relates to isolated outages (i.e. localized power failure or internet disruption), but it’s also true for performance. In other words, if the internet is just slow on a specific day, time, and location, the business impact can be equal to a full outage.
We have a threefold strategy to address this.
- We put our data centers at least 500 miles away from each other
- We provide ensured read access. This means that if one data center fails, you can get your data from a second data center – as above – without any user intervention, application/failover coding, or worry.
- We offer intelligent site routing. This means we are constantly looking for the best performing location relative to your business. We do this based on internet latency, server health, and other criteria to find the best connection for data reads.
• Data protection: What is the risk of losing my data?
Cloud storage providers use the term “data durability” to describe the probability of data loss. In this case, a higher number approaching 100% means a lower loss of ever losing data. Virtustream Storage Cloud offers an industry leading 13 nines (99.99999999999%) of data durability. That number speaks for itself.
• Compliance: What compliance certifications do you have?
Security and compliance is just one of those things you should not have to worry about. Luckily, Virtustream Storage Cloud currently holds the following certifications:
- PCI-DSS 3.2
- ISO 27001:2013
- SSAE16 SOC 1 Type 2
- SSAE16 SOC 2 Type 2
- CSA Star Attestation
- CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Systems)
We ensure these are up to date regularly by way of an independent audit and third-party certification program. All of these reports are available on request.
• Costs: What will my costs be?
If cloud storage has a mark against it, it’s cost. Why? Because most vendors charge by $/GB (the capacity), the “transactions” to move data in and out of that capacity, and also network fees. This is the classic pay-per-use model, and can be very hard to predict. While Virtustream Storage Cloud does provide this model (for those customers who want true pay-per-use), we also offer a subscription service which includes entitlements for all the costs above. Meaning, if you are not sure of your capacity needs but want to forecast for the next 12 months plus, a subscription service could alleviate any uncertainty with cost.
• Support: If I also have on-premises storage and something fails between the datacenter and the cloud, who do I call?
One of the common denominators of Dell Technologies World is that customers love… Dell technologies. Specifically, Dell EMC solutions like Data Domain, Isilon, Unity, and others. We at Virtustream know this – and given our relationship with Dell EMC, we are able to co-engineer, co-sell, co-deliver, and jointly support Virtustream Storage Cloud with Dell EMC solutions. Yes, this means there is one number to call for support from data center to cloud. What could be better?