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Cloud Storage's Next Move: Archive

Cloud storage for the most part is being used today as a backup medium or for collaboration, but the next big step and where cloud storage may be at it's best is an archive repository to meet the enterprise's growing data retention and compliance demands.
Cloud storage for the most part is being used today as a backup medium or for collaboration, but the next big step and where cloud storage may be at it's best is an archive repository to meet the enterprise's growing data retention and compliance demands.Cloud archive as we detail in our white paper Using Cloud Archive", may end up being the sweet spot for cloud storage and vendors like Iron Mountain, Bycast and Nirvanix are moving to address that market.

A cloud archive delivers the same data center efficiencies of a traditional archive; by reducing primary storage consumption needs and lowering requirements on the backup infrastructure while establishing the foundation for retention and compliance. The advantage of archiving to the cloud for the typical data center is that it removes most of the upfront costs associated with establishing your own archive as well as the management of those data assets long term.

There seems to be two deployment models evolving. First a service only sort of approach where nothing is installed locally and all data is shipped and organized directly to the cloud. Companies like iForem are ideal for this type of specific file retention need, especially for small business.

For larger businesses there may be too much data to actively push it all to the cloud as it is archived. For those there is the use of a hybrid model where an appliance that looks like a NAS head is deployed within the data center and then, based on policies, replicates data to the cloud archive provider. The local appliance can serve essentially as a cache and immediately migrate data to the cloud archive or it can serve as a secondary tier by copying the data to the cloud for redundancy and waiting until it runs out of local disk space before removing its own copy of the data.

Not only does the hybrid model deliver local recall performance it also enables the use of storage agnostic capacity optimization technologies like those from Storwize or Ocarina Networks. As we discussed in our article "Deduplicating in the Cloud", because of the monthly charge for capacity the cloud is an ideal area to make sure the data being stored is at its most optimized since the savings is seen with each monthly bill.

From a capacity perspective, cloud archive may end up being the most heavily utilized cloud service and it also may be the most "ready" of any cloud service. While there is room for improvement, something we will discuss in an upcoming entry, in its current form it provides immediate relief to a problem that today's data center is facing.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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