Microsoft Azure and StorSimple: A true Hybrid Cloud Storage Offering
Worldwide data stores are roughly doubling every 2 years. Most of this growth is concentrated in unstructured data. An abundance of applications produce active unstructured files including office document applications, email, content management systems, and PDF document formats; as well as intensive graphics and streaming data from engineering, healthcare and entertainment industries. Base products developed by storage vendors over the years have included NAS and SAN primary storage, backup software, disk or tape backup systems, and dedupe appliances. More recent development has added native dedupe, snapshots and replication to backup solutions, as well as adding the cloud as a backup target. However, in the face of massive data growth, traditional technologies are becoming a drain on the budget, and making the storage infrastructure more complex than it already is.
Storage is the underpinning of the IT infrastructure stack, impacting everything else above it. Strategic leaders, in response to various enterprise-wide surveys have indicated that storage related priorities are top of mind in 2014. These priorities are associated to:
- Managing data growth and infrastructure sprawl.
- Managing cost complexities due to ad-hoc storage expansion.
- Leveraging cloud for efficient DR.
The Hybrid Cloud Context for CIO’s and IT Managers
Considering the necessity of enforcing governance policies for corporate data assets, it is unlikely that completely external, separate cloud solutions will solve storage concerns. Instead, success will likely come from integrating enterprise cloud services with enterprise infrastructure.
It turns out that there is a new kind of storage, cloud–integrated storage, or CiS, that combines on-premises SAN storage with the ability to store, access and manage data in cloud storage services. One of the storage applications for CiS is using cloud storage as a tier to store inactive data, creating a hybrid cloud storage solution.
With CiS, corporate IT policies for data retention and security can be applied to data stored in the cloud. Security concerns are addressed by the CiS system through the use of AES-256 encryption technology.
In this fully integrated architecture, IT retains on-premises storage strengths such as local performance for active data, fast recovery, and strongly encrypted data, coupled with cloud-based storage capacity on-demand. At the same time, the cloud also provides a very secure and efficient storage tier for timely data protection and recovery. The advantages of this highly scalable architecture are particularly strong when managing massive data growth in unstructured data.
The StorSimple Approach
Microsoft Azure StorSimple provide a hybrid cloud storage solution that consolidates the management of primary storage, backup, archival and DR. By eliminating frequent storage upgrades, tapes and traditional DR, Microsoft Azure StorSimple has the potential to save 30%-40% of your current storage TCO.
The heart of hybrid cloud storage is active tiering. StorSimple continuously identifies data set policies and characteristics, and automatically places data sets on one of four storage tiers(including Microsoft Azure). Tier 1 is very active data located in the SSD’s. This data is not deduped or compressed. Tier 2 is frequently accessed data still located in the SSD’s and undergoing primary dedupe. Tier 3 is occasionally accessed data located in the HDD’s, deduped and compressed. Tier 4 stores inactive data in the cloud, where it remains easily recoverable. All tiers are centrally managed. This extremely efficient tiering capability offers greatly reduced TCO.