Consider factors beyond capacity and performance
It is important to first understand that there is no such thing as a single storage solution for the cloud. The complex performance demands of differing application workloads, the amount of data they generate, and the costs associated with managing the data lifecycle all come into play when choosing the right storage, or mix of storage for any cloud application (see figure 1). Factor in elements such as humidity and temperature, power costs, physical footprint, and security and the complexity grows. Thus, cloud providers and IT managers, when examining or designing cloud-based solutions, must take into account factors beyond capacity and performance in order to deliver services equal to or greater than those of an on-premise solution with the agility and cost advantages customers seek.
Figure 1: The various aspects and tasks of cloud computing impose different performance and capacity demands on storage solutions.
When it comes to selecting the right storage, or mix of storage for any cloud application, one might consider the growing acceptance of tiering storage in the data center. The advent of automatic tiering has ushered in a new, more cost effective means of managing the data lifecycle. In a typical data center environment, there are now four tiers of storage. Tier 0 for the most IOPs (input output per second) intensive applications or usage models where data tends to be needed almost instantaneously is typically reserved for solid-state storage. Tier 1 storage, historically, has been used for the most mission-critical applications delivering the highest IOPs one could derive from cost effective spinning media while also addressing moderate capacity requirements. Lesser-needed data is typically moved to Tier 2 storage where capacity and power efficiency are a must, and finally, there are Tier 3 storage devices primarily used for archival and backup.
The storage deployed in a cloud data center is highly dependent upon three key factors (see table):
- The data demands: What does the application demand from storage?
- The usage model: How is the data being applied?
- The storage metrics: How will the investment in storage be measured?
Click to enlarge
The cloud is a moving target. It is constantly evolving and in doing so, driving new requirements, and thus innovation across the enterprise IT sector. Storage is just one example. For traditional IT suppliers to be successful in the cloud, they must learn to move away from a hardware-centric philosophy, and look at the architecture from the point of view of the application. The cloud is the application of applications and though it is simplifying complexity, it is also complicating simplicity.
About the author
Mark Wojtasiak is a Sr. Manager of Core Product Marketing focused on cloud compute and cloud storage initiatives at Seagate Technology. Wojtasiak joined Seagate in March 2006 to lead Seagate’s video surveillance initiative and has since worked in global market development, segment marketing, and now product marketing. He is also the corporate blogger for Seagate’s The Storage Effect blog and is based at Seagate’s enterprise design center in Shakopee, MN.
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