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Cloud Computing Data Storage: Buying Guide

Using cloud computing for data storage offers a number of advantages -- if you ask potential vendors the right questions.
Posted September 26, 2011
By

Jeff Vance


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Although many enterprises are moving applications and other processes to the cloud, data backups and storage are still often local. On-site storage seem easier to control and secure, yet it’s costly to administer and leaves organizations vulnerable should a natural disaster hit.

Moreover, bottlenecks often form at the local level, especially when integrating remote applications and assets with those managed on-site.

Most organizations with a cloud presence have an eye toward using the cloud for data storage. But with a variety of cloud storage vendors to choose from, it’s important to ask the following questions to assure valuable digital assets are managed efficiently and effectively:

1. Are files and backups persistently (and quickly) available?

If your business is looking to the cloud as a primary location for file storage and backups, availability is key. For Nhan Nguyen, Chief Scientist and CTO at CIC, being able to access files quickly and at any time is the cornerstone of providing customers with the quality of service they expect.

CIC provides electronic signature solutions for the time-sensitive financial services industry. So its technologists needed to know that their cloud storage solution would maintain the same level of availability and speed as an on-site option.

Nguyen explained, “We support a very high number of concurrent users. Maintaining very high uptime and guaranteed document load performance of less than three seconds are our main goals.”

CIC needed a solution that would meet these goals and satisfy customer SLAs. After some research, they decided to deploy Gluster’s File System (GlusterFS), which complemented their existing cloud technology infrastructure.

Using GlusterFS, CIC was able to pool, aggregate, and virtualize their existing Amazon Web Services Elastic Block Storage (EBS). By utilizing both synchronous and asynchronous replication, files are retrieved quickly–even surpassing customer expectations.

2. Can the solution scale to keep up with future growth?

For Stanley Kania, CEO of Software Link, a hosted ERP provider, looking to the cloud was a way to meet expanding storage needs.

“Using local disc storage on servers became unmanageable and unsustainable, especially as we began to virtualize our infrastructure. At the same time, we need to store more and more data,” Kania said. With over 2,000 customers and growing, Kania and his team found a solution in Coraid.

Coraid’s EtherDrive platform enabled faster performance and allowed for adding new storage as-needed, scaling to meet Software Link’s growing storage needs.

“We chose Coraid because we got the most bang for our buck. Coraid provides the kind of advanced storage virtualization and data availability we required to successfully continue expanding our business,” Kania said.

Software Link is now able to host far more applications and has seen an increase in spindle speed and high demand IL. When they need additional storage, additional EtherDrive shelves can be configured and deployed in a matter of minutes.

3. Will the solution fit with existing applications and infrastructures?

For both Software Link and CIC, integrating a storage solution with existing applications and infrastructures was a key requirement. Both companies were looking for complementary solutions that would accommodate existing workflows.

“The solution we were looking for had to fit with current applications,” says Kania, whose business primarily provides hosted ERP solutions from Sage and SMB solutions from QuickBooks.

For Nyguen and his staff at CIC, a streamlined transition from their preexisting storage to the cloud was a main requirement. The staff at CIC had already selected the RightScale Cloud Management Platform as the foundation for their operations, and had decided on Amazon’s EBS.

As Nyguen says, “It was crucial to select a cloud storage solution that required no change to our existing infrastructure.”

 


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Tags: data storage, cloud computing


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