Client Technical Sales Engineer
Mainline Information Systems
The cloud has certainly had an interesting impact on our industry.
Many customers are ditching traditional IT environments, for at least some of their work, to take advantage of the flexibility of the cloud. And, I can see the appeal of it. Instant provisioning, no need to worry about maintaining your own equipment or infrastructure. Everything on the infrastructure side is really someone else’s problem, as long as your check clears.
But, we need to consider the adage seen on t-shirts at conferences these days… “There is no cloud, it’s just somebody else’s computer.”
You are putting your data, a critical resource, into someone else’s infrastructure. The applications themselves can be deployed easily in most clouds, but the data itself is something unique, and valuable in a different way, and you’re giving the cloud provider control over its access.
That probably sounds more risky than it is. But, it exposes a few real problems:
- How do you use your data?
- How do you move your data?
- What kind of choice do you have in data storage/performance/availability?
The first is a question about how you get access to your data. Does it require that all your data exist in one cloud provider? What if your company splits its business between multiple cloud vendors. Could an application using one cloud vendor really use data stored in the other? How would the data be moved or accessed between them, and what would be the cost?
The second is a matter of practicality – if you decided to change cloud providers, what does that cost? It will most likely impact network fees, as well as data transfer fees.
Finally, people who have been involved in IT have been accustomed to a level of choice… choice in different storage systems with different capabilities. In the cloud environment, there are usually different “tiers.” But, unless your contract includes the ability to put an approved disk system onto their datacenter floor, you don’t really get to choose. Moreover, if you did put your disk system onto their floor, making it a part of their infrastructure, it loses the flexibility of the cloud, in terms of being able to get the storage you need, when you need it.
Into this, Nimble Storage (a company owned by HPE) has introduced Nimble Cloud Volumes. This capability is a smart way of sidestepping all the issues caused by traditional cloud storage. Nimble has placed storage in datacenters that are adjacent to AWS and Microsoft Azure. They have low latency access to both, which means that applications could be deployed in one or both, and switching providers wouldn’t involve the large network and/or data access charges.
Nimble cloud volumes provide exceptionally high availability (99.9999%), and their 256-bit AES encryption is fully NIST certified, for even the most stringent security requirements. They also have access to advanced features, like instant snapshots for backup and data protection, which only consume storage when data is changed.
Provisioning storage is easy. You simply tell it the amount of capacity you need, and what Service Level Agreement (SLA) you’re trying to meet in terms of IOPS. With that, the volume is ready for iSCSI attachment from the cloud provider of your choice. If you decide that you want to change cloud providers, it will be ready and available for that as well.
Beyond that, Nimble Cloud Volumes benefit from the same commitment, to analyzing data storage usage and how it is configured, as they have in the traditional data center. In the Data Center, Nimble is known for its Infosight platform. This tool allows users to track their activity and usage, but also provides statistics that Nimble analyzes to identify and prevent problems. On that note, their analytics indicate that they automatically open 93% of cases based on issues that Infosight identified, and that 86% of cases are solved automatically, based on information from analyzing other cases. This is also being used to manage, monitor and analyze the hosting disk systems, which helps to maintain their 99.9999% availability on all hosted storage.
Cloud technology options will continue to evolve, and businesses will have more and more choices. Our experts at Mainline keep abreast of the options, and we help our customers navigate the choices – even when it’s just someone else’s computer.
Please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly, or click here to contact us with any questions.