Storage Survey: Cloud Storage Use Up, But Integration Still Sought - InformationWeek

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Storage Survey: Cloud Storage Use Up, But Integration Still Sought

A supplier of an object storage system asked 409 IT managers how hybrid cloud storage use was progressing. The answer: with some difficulties.

Storage is one of the primary drivers of hybrid cloud adoption. According to a survey by object storage system provider, Cloudian, 68% of IT decision makers surveyed in early November have already adopted or plan to implement within a year a form of public cloud storage to complement their existing on-premises storage.

The share that have already done so was 28%, with another 40% planning to do so within the next 12 months. The most frequent driver is use of cloud storage for backup purposes -- in use by 64% or planned to be pressed into use in the next 12 months. By moving backup data into the cloud, the IT manager gets, not just another copy of his data, but one in a data center different from his own, and thus insulated from a disaster or failure that might strike his own.

On the other hand, 13% said they planned to adopt cloud storage but in a timeframe more than 12 months out, while 19% said they had no plans to adopt a cloud storage system to function in a hybrid fashion with an on-premises system.

The sample size was relatively small, 409 IT decision makers in the U.S. and the UK, who were asked 16 questions about their storage plans. Cloudian is a supplier of an on-premises object storage system that is compatible with Amazon Web Services S3 storage service. It conducted the survey to find out how prospective customers viewed their potential use of cloud storage. The report on the results can be freely downloaded here.

[See how cloud storage leads toward a 'thinner' data center. Read The Thinning Of The Data Center.]

At the same time, Cloudian acknowledged there was confusion over the term cloud storage in the survey, with some respondents referring to OneDrive or DropBox as forms of cloud storage, which they are, even though one of their primary purposes is file synchronization and sharing rather than large scale enterprise storage. Forty percent counted storage that they get with Salesforce SaaS or Microsoft Office 365 as cloud storage as well.

About a third, however, are using an on-premises appliance that is attached to a cloud storage service and provides a means of queuing traffic and speeding up exchanges between on-premises and the cloud storage system. The appliance is generally known as a cloud storage gateway.

The Cloudian report on the survey concluded that organizations are using cloud storage for specific applications and purposes, such as file sharing, email, and data backup. "But they continue to struggle when it comes to more general purpose storage needs as it relates to cloud," and only 18% are using an on-premises application that leverages cloud storage in some way, the report said.

In addition to data backup, respondents named other uses for a hybrid storage system: Web infrastructure was cited by 52%; application development and test, 48%; technical applications, 43%; media and entertainment, 21%; and medical data, 21%.

Security and cost concerns remain the primary brakes on adopting hybrid cloud storage systems at a faster pace. Sixty-two percent of respondents said security in the cloud was a top concern, with cost coming in second at 55%.

Fifty-nine percent said they had data that could not be migrated to the cloud now or in the future, and that data represented 47% of the total. It included corporate financial data, customer records, research data, email, file shares and other collaboration data.

Other concerns were management complexity of hybrid storage system, interoperability with other systems, and the skill sets needed to use cloud storage listed as well.

When it came to global thinking about on-premises plus cloud storage, Cloudian found most respondents hadn't moved off the application by application approach to the cloud. There was no emerging consensus on what a hybrid system designed to work together for multiple purposes looks like, it acknowledged.

When it asked the respondents who used no cloud storage what interface they would want for a hybrid system, "the respondents simply did not know what they would choose." That sample was the smallest of the respondent groupings, 25.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
12/5/2016 | 2:52:16 PM
How the survey was conducted; who the commenter is
The Cloudian survey was sponsored by Cloudian but conducted by a third party, ActualTech Media.

The commenter below, Tim Wessels, is the principal consultant at MonadCloud and at Tim Wessels & Associates in the Boston area. MonadCloud builds object-based storage for both public and private cloud systems.
User Rank: Strategist
11/28/2016 | 8:38:12 PM
Cloud data storage...public, private and hybrid, what's so hard to understand?
Well, the world cloud is the problem. Most people assume cloud storage means public cloud storage because that was the first form of cloud data storage available with AWS being the first to offer it back in 2006. If you go back that far, there weren't many private cloud data storage offerings.  There was EMC Centera and Caringo CAStor and not much else for on-premises private cloud data storage.

Flash forward to 2016 and the ranks of public cloud storage providers has gotten larger with the addition of Google Cloud Storage and Microsoft Azure Blob while the builders of private cloud storage now include Amplidata (HGST), Caringo, Cleversafe (IBM), Ceph (Red Hat), Cloudian, DDN, EMC, Hitachi, Scality, and SwiftStack.  Some of these object-based storage vendors also support the use of their software to build public storage clouds as well as private storage clouds.

Not many private cloud storage vendors support tiering data from a private storage cloud to a public storage cloud. Cloudian can tier data to AWS S3, AWS Glacier, and Google Coldline.  Cloudian is also reported to be working on tiering data to Microsoft Azure Blob. When you are tiering data from a private storage cloud to a public storage cloud, you have what is somewhat incorrectly referred to as a hybrid storage cloud. Tiering is a better term because hybrid already means the use to two types of storage media in a single enclosure as you would find in a hybrid disk drive that incorporates traditional spinning disk platters with solid state storage to improve disk drive performance.

Private cloud storage is right for all of the reasons Cloudian found in its survey.  Security, cost, compliance, governance and control over data storage are all important to most SMB and enterprise customers.  And there are types of data that SMB and enterprise customers will never keep in a public storage cloud. 

The "800-pound gorilla" in the room is unstructured data. Most SMB and enterprise customers automatically assume that public cloud storage is an appropriate place for unstructured data when it is a mi$take to put all of your unstructured data in a public storage cloud.  You will pay to keep this data there forever.  You will pay more to touch it, and if you want it all back, you will pay for that too.

Private cloud storage is like a Swiss Army knife.  What you can do with it is virtually unlimited aside from using it as primary data storage for transactional systems or database applications, but even that will likely change when solid state storage like SSDs start appearing in private storage cloud architectures.  

The biggest problem facing private cloud, object-based storage software vendors is they have too few customers.  They have been so busy selling the "scale-out" capabilities of private cloud storage that they have lost sight of the sub-petabyte market which is many times larger than the market for petabyte-plus private cloud storage.  What they should be talking about is storage simplification and the ability of private cloud storage to scale down to meet the needs of customers over a range of use cases.





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