Cloud storage gateways (CSGs) are emerging as a quick and easy way to push burgeoning data loads onto the cloud, but are they right for every occasion? And can they be used effectively as a long-term solution within a broader hybrid cloud infrastructure?
Organizations that are already struggling to support data and applications generated by new mobile platforms and even the first blush of the Internet of Things are probably ripe for a CSG or two, according to storage services firm CTERA. A recent survey on behalf of the company reported that more than a third of enterprises have experienced “data leakage” through the use of unsanctioned file, sync and share (FSS) services. While many are responding by putting limits on the use of public resources, others are implementing CSGs as a means to provide universal access, control costs and minimize IT overhead.
A CSG is also a nifty solution for companies facing the end of Microsoft Windows Server 2003, says Jeff Denworth, CTERA’s senior VP of marketing. If you are using WS03 as a file server, then a caching gateway would probably become too expensive as loads increase. But a sync gateway to any number of cloud providers can offer service for just pennies per GB per month, far cheaper than even Azure, and they often come with global access and remote management capabilities to centralize configuration changes, software updates and other functions. In general, the migration is easy and organizations can drive down their file serving costs by 80 to 90 percent.
This could be part of the reason that the CSG market is expected to more than triple by 2020 to top out at about $3.58 billion, according to MarketsandMarkets. In part, this growth is due to the expected rise in data under management going forward, but there is also the flexibility aspect that CSG brings to the table, especially when applied to backup and recovery applications. CSGs in the home office or at the branch can quickly find mirrored data should one cloud become unavailable.
Mid-market organizations that lack the expertise to implement their own internal or hybrid cloud solutions are also ideal candidates for CSG, according to Storage Switzerland’s George Crump. The gateway presents local protocols like NFS, CIFS and iSCSI to the data center and translates them into RESTful or object storage on the backend. This allows them to easily integrate into legacy environments by looking like just another storage array, while in reality they open up cloud resources that can then be managed and secured as part of an integrated data infrastructure.
In this way, the gateway becomes not just a piece of the hybrid cloud but a vital link to the resources needed to support next-generation data requirements. And as they become increasingly virtualized, they will gain all the flexibility required of the dynamic, software-defined architectures that are just now making their way from the lab to production environments.
But be aware that the gateway itself is not the answer to all of your cloud challenges, particularly when it comes to data protection and resource consumption. Only an integrated cloud stack can do that, complete with a user interface that can quickly harness the appropriate gateway to direct data into the proper channels.
Ultimately, this will be the difference between a cloud that is focused on building the business and one that merely holds a lot of data.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.