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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cloud Storage Strategy How-Tos

As the CIO, you have been thinking about Cloud Storage for sometime. How to best leverage the capability and cut cost? How to plan for the long term with integration and migration? There are many questions to answer.

This article will discuss several repeating patterns from our customers.

(1) What problem the cloud storage solves for you?

1.a Offsite Backup and Disaster Recovery

Cloud storage is excellent for backup since it is offsite storage by nature.

1.b Integration with Content Delivery Network

You have documents and media files that you need to push to the edge of the world for your customer. Cloud Storage is very good with the integration with CDN services.

1.c Sharing Documents with Customers.

You don’t like to pass documents back and forth in email attachments with customers. You need a central repository that you can share.

1.d Sharing Documents between Your Remote Sites.

Overtime, you remote sites accumulated storage silos that you can’t share with other remote sites. You need a centralized repository to share.

1.e Central Repository for Mobile Workers

You may have sales team visiting customers. You need to give them a way to store sales proposals and other information to a centralized location for your mobile workers.

1.f Sharing Documents for Employees On-Site

This typically involves out-dated NAS device, old file server that people used to share. The devices or servers need to be replaced. While you are replacing them, replacing with something cloud-enabled.

In the coming weeks, we will have articles discussing each individual cloud storage use cases. Please bookmark http://gladinet.blogspot.com and check later. 

After you identified the problem, now the next question.

(2) Public cloud or private cloud?

2.a If you are using public cloud, typically you are connecting to the data center that hosts the public cloud over WAN. For example, you can use Amazon S3, Rackspace CloudFiles and etc.

2.b A variation of the public cloud is that it is hosted by the same MSP that is hosting your other key IT infrastructure. You can consider it partially private and partially public. For example, Peer1 may be your MSP and you can use Peer1 CloudOne for cloud storage.

2.c In the private cloud, you are connecting your sites together and there are VPNs in between. The private cloud software will typically replicate your data over to different sites based on policy.

It is a lot easier to start with public cloud than from private cloud. With public cloud, you can use Amazon S3, Windows Azure, AT&T Synaptic Storage or just go visiting your hosting provider. The price is low to start with too.

With private cloud, the cost may be higher with the equipment itself, plus the administrators for the equipment. The most notable vendor is EMC with its EMC Atmos offering.

There are several other pure software solutions such as Caringo CAStor and Mezeo Software that provide good solution for private cloud too.

(3) Pick a Public Cloud Storage Vendor

There are many choices.  This earlier article talks about How to Pick a Cloud Storage Service. There are many factors to consider, including SLA, speed, cost and etc.

(4) Find a Cloud Storage Access Solution

There are basically 3 pieces in a Cloud Storage Access Solution.

4.a Desktop Client.

Desktop client is probably the most flexible and the easiest to leverage all potential benefit of cloud storage. It is a good fit for mobile worker and the cloud storage administrator. For example, Gladinet Cloud Desktop integrates cloud storage directly to Windows Explorer and provide excellent integration point.

However, desktop client may not be the solution when you don’t want to expose the configuration information such as the cloud storage credentials to the user.

4.b Cloud Storage Gateway or Cloud Gateway.

Cloud Gateway provides the easiest way to seamlessly integrate cloud storage into on-premise storage by translating cloud storage into CIFS/NFS kind of storage. This earlier article talks about How to Pick a Cloud Storage Gateway.

Cloud Gateway typically hides the cloud storage details and replace that with what people are already familiar with such as Active Directory, CIFS network share and etc.

4.c Cloud Backup

Cloud Backup provides the quickest on-ramp to backup solution to cloud storage. After installation, you can start backing up to cloud storage without further configuration. For example, Gladinet Cloud Backup can be used to backup to your cloud storage of choice.

Sometimes, you can pick one solution and it will be good for you. Sometimes, you need to combine the solutions for different use cases. This article talks about Why Cloud Storage Gateway is not Enough, providing an example on when one solution is not enough.

Related Articles:

Gladinet Blog- Cloud Storage Becoming a Commodity

Gladinet Blog- A List of Cloud Storage Providers and Their Niches

Gladinet Blog- Which Cloud Storage Do You Use

Gladinet Blog- How to Pick a Cloud Storage Gateway

Gladinet Blog- How to Pick a Cloud Storage Service

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