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The Future of Storage Is a Cold Core and Hot Edge | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The two top areas of spending, object storage and all flash arrays, are fundamentally different than each other

451 Research recently published its 2016 Enterprise Storage Outlook in which both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft become top 5 enterprise storage vendors by 2017. Further, AWS surges from 6th place to 2nd place while NetApp plummets from 2nd place to 6th place. Spending on public cloud storage over doubles between 2015 and 2017 while spending on on-premises storage falls over 17%.

Top three storage pain points in the report were:

  1. Dealing with data/capacity growth
  2. Capacity planning/forecasting
  3. High Cost of Storage (CAPEX)

Top three areas of storage spending in the report were:

  1. Third party cloud storage services
  2. Object storage
  3. All flash arrays

The report sums it up nicely: spending will increase the most on public cloud and all-flash arrays, while spending on traditional SAN and NAS products will be more muted. The largest spending declines will be on tape products.

To some it may seem strange that the two top areas of spending, object storage and all flash arrays, are fundamentally different than each other. Flash has incredible performance, but not it really not a solution for all of your data - especially the 70% of data that has not been accessed for 60 days. You still have all the storage pain points listed above and also have not alleviated all the back-up and archiving workflows at each site. Object storage is cheap and deep with great economics, massive scale and a pay by the drink business model. However, cloud storage lacks performance and enterprise features of enterprise storage.

We are starting to see a more simplified model of enterprise storage that combines flash and cloud into a single system or "organism" that provides the performance and features of flash arrays along with the scale and economics of cloud storage - essentially a "cold core, hot edge" architecture.

Cloud storage is the "cold core" where all the data in an organization is stored. The cloud wars have dramatically dropped the cost of this storage and features like AWS Infrequent Access reduce the cost further. Global deduplication can reduce the total storage footprint and cost even further. It's hard to match the cloud in data protection as AWS S3 has 11 9's of durability with objects redundantly stored on multiple devices across multiple facilities. This means if you store 10,000 objects on S3, you can on average expect to incur a loss of a single object once every 10,000,000 years. To top it all off, S3 is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities.

All of that is great for IT, but is not really exciting to users. Users don't want to wait for files to be downloaded from the cloud, they want the files locally and in flash - not on those slow old spinning drives. They want blazing fast speed all the time - they need a "hot edge."

But don't we have this already? Isn't it as simple as hooking up an all flash array to a cloud gateway and calling it a day? This certainly helps get rid of tapes, which is what the 451 Research report said would have the largest spending decline, but it is essentially the same storage process as there is today, just with an all flash array instead of an array with spinning disks. Software, hardware, and processes for DR, back-up, archiving still exist at every site except that the tape physical medium could be replaced by the cloud. This is not a cold core, hot edge strategy - it is a replace spinning with SSD and replace tape with cloud strategy.

A cold core, hot edge architecture is much different as it integrates flash and cloud together as one - not two technologies that are glued together. "Hot data" is automatically cached on-premises and "cold data" is moved to the cloud, but within a single "organism" where there is not an end of one and a beginning of another.

There is no need to worry about data growth and capacity/forecasting ahead of that growth. Spending transforms from a model where you pay-upfront for capacity to grow into to a model where you pay as you grow. There is not separate software, hardware, or processes for DR, back-up, and archiving as these are just part of the solution. Most importantly, IT can significantly reduce the time to manage storage as storage becomes a centrally managed service.

Data growth will be over 800% in the next 5 years with 80% of data taking the form of unstructured data. 70% of unstructured data has not been accessed within 60 days, so a hybrid strategy of on-premise and cloud is key. The need for a hybrid strategy is further evidenced by IDC's prediction that 60% of the 13 Zettabyte (ZB) data produced by 2020 to be stored on the cloud, which means 40% will be stored on-premises. You can see why Forrester Research says that cloud as complement has faster adoption than cloud as replacement.

Technology inflection points come and go, but there are few that are as transformative as the cloud. A cold core, hot edge architecture is a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers to house increasing amounts of storage infrastructure - yet still provides the performance and features that users require. While flash and cloud are solid technology innovations separately, the combination has the potential for disrupting the storage industry as we know it today.

More Stories By Barry Phillips

Barry Phillips is a seasoned Marketing executive with experience in both large and small companies. He joins Maxta after being the CMO of Panzura, Egnyte and Wanova (acquired by VMware), where he led Marketing, Sales, and Business Development. He came to Wanova from Citrix Systems, where he was the Group Vice President and General Manager of the Delivery Center Product Group. He joined Citrix through the acquisition of Net6. He began his career in United States Naval Aviation where he logged over 1,000 hours in a P-3C Orion.

Barry holds a Bachelors of Computer Science from the United States Naval Academy and a Masters of Computer Science from UCLA.

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