The cloud’s chief advantage over on-premises infrastructure is that it allows you to scale resources based on need. Pay for what you use and leave the messy hardware stuff to someone else.
This is especially true for storage capacity, demand for which is increasing so fast that enterprises are desperately seeking a low-cost, flexible way to deal with it.
But if that is the case, why are we hearing so much about private cloud storage lately? After all, you can only scale to the limit of physical storage resources, so why bother implementing a cloud architecture that still leaves you with a substantial hardware burden?
It’s not like private cloud storage is cheap or easy to implement. As IT blogger Bob Ganley points out, the prep work alone is enough to make your head spin. There’s infrastructure standardization, followed by VM templates, multi-tier application bundling, server/storage/network organization, and then a round of service and policy creation. Only then do you get to the automated provisioning, de-provisioning and self-service processes to put the system in motion.
After all that, is private cloud storage really worth it? In a word, yes. Keep in mind that scalability may be an important aspect of the cloud, but it’s not the only one. Efficient use of available resources is also a worthy goal, and private clouds deliver this in spades.
In fact, IBM’s Dan Galvan argues that storage architectures should be made more efficient anyway, and it’s that efficiency that enables the private cloud, not the other way around. Virtualization and consolidation are two of the main drivers behind private cloud computing, and techniques like automated tiering simply enable enterprises to more closely match resources with data loads. No more over-provisioning to meet theoretical peak demand.
Of course, a private storage cloud will only be as effective as its ability to coordinate with the rest of your data infrastructure. That’s why companies like NetApp are quickly building relationships with other platform providers to form unified cloud environments. Through programs like Microsoft’s Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track program, the company can deliver unified storage solutions optimized for Hyper-V virtual machines running on Cisco Unified Computing System and Nexus switch architectures.
The cloud also provides access to internal resources that would otherwise be unavailable on a shared basis. Addonics Technologies recently released a new NAS adapter that allows any USB 2.0 hard drive, SSD or other storage device to act as a NAS appliance over a LAN or WAN. The device supports up to 128 PB and supports common file systems like NTFS and exFAT, as well as the SMB and Samba protocols and even the X-Box media server and Bit-Torrent client.
Ultimately, private cloud storage is less about scale and security and more about effective infrastructure management. You’ve probably spent a fair amount of cash building your current data environment. Why not make the most of it while you can?