The two key benefits of a multi-cloud strategy are that it avoids building dependency on a single provider and it allows organizations to find the optimal resource configurations for key applications and services. The problem, however, is that it is not always easy to make data stored on one cloud available to applications hosted in another.
In addition to network concerns and issues related to data migration, most cloud providers often build their storage services around proprietary architectures, all of which adds latency and management overhead to what ideally should be a streamlined, integrated data ecosystem. However, a new generation of cloud management solutions is starting to delve into the intricacies of storage to hopefully bring the dream of true hybrid performance closer to reality.
One of the latest advancements comes from Scality, which recently teamed up with Microsoft to allow unstructured data to work across Amazon’s S3 service and the Azure Blob platform. The resulting product is a translation layer that allows applications written for S3 to natively access Blob’s object storage. In essence, the system encapsulates the Scality Connect solution within a container running in the Azure cloud, which allows users to offload management responsibilities to Scality while still maintaining sole access to data. In this way, apps built around the S3 API can read and write data to Azure.
Red Hat is also leveraging containers to extend its Gluster clustered storage solution to multiple clouds. Under the latest OpenShift Container Platform 3.6, the company has implemented a container-native storage solution that supports file, block and object interfaces such as iSCSI and the S3 API. As well, the system triples the number of applications and microservices that can be housed in a single cluster and provides key functions such as registry, logging and metrics to allow organizations to shift workloads to a more cloud-centric footing.
Meanwhile, Veritas is out with a new smart cloud storage solution featuring a management suite for unstructured data tied to a multi-cloud Access Appliance that allows data stores to extend across hybrid infrastructure. The platform builds on the 360 Data Management stack to bring features like rapid scalability and intelligent management to cloud storage environment while the Access Appliance takes care of things like backup and data retention, multi-cloud tiering and integrated archiving. The company says the solution supports full software-defined storage (SDS) development for large-scale data operations like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
New service offerings are also targeting the need for broad storage integration on the cloud. ClearSky Data has aligned itself with Amazon, Google, Cloudian and others to bring multi-cloud support for its on-demand primary storage ecosystem. According to Channel Partners, this allows the company to provide a mix of direct and indirect storage services to medium and large enterprises, including the ability to provide flash-level performance across geo-distributed data footprints. In this way, organizations can build streamlined data functionality as a core element in hybrid cloud deployments rather than as an add-on to an already disjointed cloud. (Disclosure: I provide content services to ClearSky Data.)
An integrated storage environment is crucial to any data ecosystem regardless of whether it extends into the cloud or not. But since the cloud invariably utilizes a broad collection of systems, formats and technologies, creating a seamless pool of data is likely to remain a challenge for a while longer.
In time, however, we can expect cloud storage to be as accessible as the local array, if for no other reason than the advanced service-driven economy that we are all striving for simply will not happen without it.
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 and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.