Along with all the positives, the Industrial Revolution brought us congested cities, polluted rivers and urban ghettos. The automobile brought smog, road fatalities and a heavy dependence on the oil economy. While some may wish for a return to an idyllic rural pre-industrial lifestyle with horse-drawn transportation, there is no going back.
It’s the same with cloud storage. The cloud is a fact of life in enterprise data storage—whether storage managers like it or not. There is no returning to the old days of vast internal data centers holding row upon row of storage arrays. And yet cloud storage problems abound.
Here are the top ten tips for dealing with them.
1. Be Prepared
Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group, said many of the problems experienced with cloud storage tie back to not having been prepared upfront. For example, areas of unpreparedness might include how to handle security and encryption, or how to manage and leverage various cloud costs including network traffic.
“Don’t be afraid of the cloud, be prepared and do your homework,” he said. “If you can document your concerns, then you can also work to address those concerns, including workarounds as needed."
2. Define Your Cloud Storage Needs
Another important point is gaining an understanding of the various types of cloud storage options out there. Otherwise, you may end up using cloud storage that doesn’t align with the needs of your applications. Do you need bulk storage for video, image, archiving or a place to park large amounts of data, for example? Other needs might be for file sync and share, cloud storage or a backup or disaster recovery (DR) storage service.
“Know your application needs and requirements besides capacity, include performance availability,” said Schulz.
3. Watch for Hidden Costs
A commonly cited cloud storage problem is hidden costs. Examples include fees to access data and penalties for breaking the storage contract should a buyer decide to discontinue the service.
“When considering cloud storage as a replacement for on-premise data stores, compare the total cost of storage, including the physical hardware, software, power and management, but also consider any legacy application licenses that may be tied to the on-premise data,” said Bob Spurzem, director of field marketing at Archive360. “Cloud storage serves very well for long-term retention of legacy archive data for very low total cost and online access.”
4. Avoid Migration Back and Forth
A major challenge when considering cloud storage is ensuring that the data that is being migrated to the cloud are the correct workloads, as the costs associated with moving data back and forth from the provider back to a local environment can be significant. Such costs could far outweigh the original justification created to move the data to the cloud.
“Assess the storage that you are looking to migrate to the cloud to ensure it is the correct workload,” said Piyush Mehta, CEO, Data Dynamics. “Profile the data carefully prior to any commitment.”
5. Study SLAs
Some cloud storage is largely consumer oriented with lowest costs being the biggest consideration. While a large quantity of capacity is available, it may take quite some time to retrieve it all. For the enterprise market, the way to avoid poor performance is to pay attention to Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Dave Robinson, senior director of product marketing at EMC, emphasized that not all cloud storage providers are created equal. “Ask yourself a few basic questions when considering cloud storage, and study SLAs,” said Robinson.
He recommends asking questions such as what SLAs are they advertising, do they offer the ability to migrate data from one platform to another, is there a separate charge for data egress, who do you look to for support, and is the cloud storage platform integrated within your existing IT infrastructure so you can seamlessly extend your primary or protection storage solutions to the cloud?