Hybrid Cloud Storage: Introduction and Buyer's Guide

Hybrid Cloud Storage: Introduction and Buyer's Guide
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Hybrid cloud storage leverages a combination of local and off-site resources to provide primary data storage, data back up, disaster recovery, secure sync and share, and more. A hybrid approach offers better scalability but also introduces potential risks. We outline the key features and implementation approaches to consider when shopping for a hybrid cloud storage solution.

Enterprise IT can use hybrid cloud storage as primary data storage, to back up data, and to securely sync and access remote files -- all the while using a combination of both local and off-site resources. The promise of a hybrid approach rests with the possibility of intelligently and automatically prioritizing data access needs around the most optimal storage resource, whether those physical resources reside in the cloud or on premise. As with any move to a cloud model, there are tradeoffs to consider.

From a technical perspective, IT has a greater amount of scalable resources with a hybrid cloud storage option than with an on-premise solution. This is especially evident when the need to add or reduce a significant amount of storage space comes up on short notice. Additionally, a cloud storage solution reduces the physical infrastructure required to both manage and maintain local resources, which can also reduce operational costs. Finally, a hybrid cloud model can improve responsiveness to new requirements because the need to procure and provision storage transitions away from the IT customer to the service provider who, in theory, is bound by service level agreements.

The hybrid cloud business case is certainly compelling, with traditional backup and the related ability to provide disaster recovery services at the top of the list. Development teams are using cloud-based storage for testing purposes and to run pilot or short-term projects. Big data and its voracious appetite for storage can quickly overwhelm any local storage capabilities and presents a great opportunity for using a flexible off-site solution. Other applications include the expansion or extension of current infrastructure to include primary or secondary for big data or back up storage, and as a target for VM disk files in the case of virtualization.

About the Author

Paul Ferrill has a MS in Electrical Engineering and serves as CTO for Avionics Test and Analysis Co. He's written hundreds of articles and is the author of two books. He's in the final stages of a third book, entitled "Training Guide: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure."

There are, of course, potential risks when it comes to hybrid cloud storage. Lost or corrupted data, the possibility that corporate information could be somehow compromised, and the possibility of a network or data center outage are just a few. However, every cloud storage provider has measures in place to help mitigate these risks; helping counter the hesitation and fear IT managers may have when it comes to sending corporate data to an off-site location over which they have little or no control. Savvy buyers should also consider the viability of the provider, given a couple of recent, high-profile service closures from Nirvanix and Symantec.

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