By Greg Roody
Once you cut through all the hype surrounding the benefits of Cloud Storage, specifically the economics of Public Cloud Storage, it becomes clear that there are use cases that do shine.
At the heart of the analysis are tried and true factors effecting storage costs like OPEX and CAPEX, deduplication, thin provisioning, compression, utilization, TCO, ROI, Business Opportunity costs (downtime, business recovery, business restart), etc.
Data Storage may be cheap and getting cheaper, but storing less data is always cheaper than storing more, and cutting costs – both operational and capital – is still critical.
The traditional Storage Model
There are several cost factors working against you in the traditional model:
- You tend to over configure new storage arrays, “just in case”, buying slightly more capacity than needed. Nobody likes having to justify another capitol request because they planned poorly. Much of this capacity isn’t needed on day 1, you are buying capacity up to a year ahead of need
- Once purchased, you will have to find room in the data center, provide power and cooling, and assign someone to administer it.
- Next, you have to have some storage admin provision the volumes, assign them to the proper ports, zone them into the proper switches, and finally hand them over to the system admins.
- Application environments consuming storage on the array tend to be over-provisioned, again because of planned growth. If that growth never arrives, you have stranded storage that will never be used and can’t be easily reclaimed
Then, after three years, you will have to buy a replacement and migrate all the data over to the new array. You will probably even repurchase and migrate that stranded storage as well.
But the economics of using Cloud Storage are very different.
With Public Cloud Storage, there is no capital expense to buy a new array (or a replacement array). Cloud Storage is rapidly expandable and you pay for only what you use. So after initial deployment, you would only have paid for the transfer cost of the initial storage and the monthly cost to host it. As you add additional data, you pay the additional fees, but only when you actually use it.
And since it’s deduplicated/compressed and thin provisioned, you can give your App Admin their full request of local storage, and you will only be paying for what they actually use. That’s why deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning, as well as snapshots, make so much sense to Cloud Storage deployments.
Of course, since it’s self-provisioned, the storage admin doesn’t need to make any bin file changes, or decide on spindle placement, or go through a complicated zoning assignment. All the administrator needs to do is pick the max size of the volume to be allocated, which Cloud provider tier to use, and which host it will be assigned to. There really aren’t any “storage administrator” skills required for this stage.
No local floor tiles or racks need to be freed up and assigned, no power needs to be run, and there are no HVAC implications. As an added benefit, you can configure it so there is both a local and a remote copy of the data, eliminating the infrastructure that would normally be required for site to site replication.
There are no storage upgrade costs.
There is no need to spend money custom coding to Cloud Storage API’s. Our CloudArray software can easily interface between your legacy server environment and Public Cloud Storage Providers.
You will have some additional costs for bandwidth between your data center and your Cloud service Provider, but bandwidth, like storage, is becoming a commodity and prices are dropping.
The net result is a considerable cost savings over deploying storage the traditional model.
Is it all a perfect world with Public Cloud Storage?
Of course not, there is always a tradeoff. In Enterprise data centers, the economics tip back to maintaining local and dedicated storage, here Private Storage Clouds still offer savings over traditional storage models but you will incur infrastructure expenses.
But in small to mid-sized businesses, the economics of using Cloud Storage (Public or Private) for second and third tier data storage is very compelling. Even in cases where you are storing backups in the Cloud, the advantages can rise to a 50% cost savings over traditional tape backup and offsite storage. I’ll go into more detail on that in future posts.
In the meantime, if you would like more information, feel free to contact us.