As discussed in our prior installment, while there is no “one-size fits all” path to cloud infrastructure adoption, a roadmap can ease and simplify the transition to cloud while minimizing IT disruption. More importantly, a phased approach (as shown in the figure below) enables organizations to take advantage of on-demand infrastructure sooner than later, leveraging scalability, cost advantages and rapid deployment capabilities of cloud.
Data storage expansion may be one of the easiest ways to leverage cloud infrastructure, which is why we list it as phase 1 of our roadmap. Besides the simple integration path, storage is a foundational building block of a cloud-based IT strategy – once data is in the cloud, more cloud services can be rolled in. Need another reason to begin with storage? Storage is growing rapidly, with the digital universe set to exceed 40,000 exabytes (40 billion terabytes) by 2020. With a data explosion looming, nearly every organization needs to formulate a plan for dealing with storage capacity sprawl.
For cloud storage “newbies,” integration may not appear very simple. In fact, the object-based APIs of cloud storage do not natively interface to many of today’s applications.
While writing directly to object-based APIs can be a complex undertaking, cloud-integrated storage solutions have made integrating cloud storage into an existing on-premise environments as easy as integrating on-premise SAN or NAS storage, with the performance and security of traditional infrastructure.
Once past the integration hurdle, there are a number of advantages of cloud storage versus on-premise traditional storage. These include:
- On-demand, unlimited capacity expansion: With cloud storage, organizations never have to worry about running out of storage capacity. Capacity is always available and can be increased or decreased on demand.
- Pay-as-you-go pricing: Traditional storage purchases occur in 3-5 year cycles, where organizations purchase capacity up-front to last several years. This means capacity is over-purchased and largely underutilized during most of its useful lifetime. Cloud storage changes those dynamics by only charging for capacity used at any given time, eliminating all waste. When you need more storage it’s simply there – easy to obtain, easy to use, easy to access.
- Reduced floor space: Data storage occupies valuable data center floor space and expands over time to require more. Cloud storage allows organizations to grow capacity while keeping their local storage footprint fixed. Over time, as organizations become more cloud-centric, local storage footprints can also be reduced.
- Virtually no administration: Maintaining traditional data storage generally requires hundreds if not thousands of yearly operations (see below), ranging from backups to software upgrades to addressing and fixing failures. With cloud storage, all of that maintenance is effectively outsourced to the cloud provider, freeing up staff to address building/maintaining key business applications rather than tending to the bane of infrastructure maintenance.
- No need to to upgrade, migrate, replace: Traditional storage is sometimes viewed as a gift that keeps on giving — but not in a good way. As mentioned earlier, storage system refreshes happen every 3-5 years. Updating and then migrating and replacing storage infrastructure is an arduous task that introduces significant IT risk and administrative overhead. With cloud storage, the cloud provider does that for you, so the 3-5 year data storage life cycle disappears.
The end result of using the cloud for storage capacity expansion is a much better way to deploy, maintain and scale storage infrastructure. While solving the problem of capacity management and growth is of tremendous value by itself, storage also serves as the foundation of the next phases of our cloud adoption roadmap.
Some of the more profound benefits of the cloud that can be realized are in the areas of disaster recover (DR) and Big Data. Stay tuned for our upcoming installments as we discuss these next phases.