Getting onto the Cloud? It's Simple with an Appliance

Arthur Cole
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Occupy the Cloud! Five Trends that Show There's No Need to Wait

Five trends indicate there's no need to protest moving mission-critical data into the cloud.

It's almost getting to be too easy - getting onto the cloud, I mean.

For a technology that represents such a profound change in data architecture, the plethora of appliance-based cloud solutions is something of a marvel, particularly when it comes to storage and backup applications. While nobody is talking about plug-and-play cloud building just yet, appliances make deployment and provisioning of cloud resources about as simple as it can be. And if you are already well versed in virtualization, the rise of new virtual appliances offers even lower costs and new levels of flexibility as to where, how and to what degree your cloud infrastructure will extend.

A prime example is TwinStrata's new CloudArray 3.0, a physical or virtual appliance that lets you build SAN, NAS or even DAS storage architectures across public, private and hybrid resources. The system enables global SAN capability while maintaining central capacity management and disaster recovery tools to maintain unity and control across remote sites. At the same time, users gain dynamic cache sizing, single-click cache optimization and Amazon S3 regional storage support, all following a simple three-step configuration process. The software is also available in the Veeam Backup and Replication system and DataCore's SANsymphony-V storage hypervisor.

The prospect of such enormous scale on such an easily deployed platform is drawing a number of startups into the field. A company called Embrane, led by several former top executives at Cisco, recently released the heleos virtual appliance that provides cloud-ready network services like load balancing, firewalls, virtual private networking and WAN optimization. The idea is to free up as much network capacity as possible so it will be more flexible in its ability to deliver data and applications to users. The system consists of logical containers called Distributed Virtual Appliances (DVAs) and an Elastic Services Manager (ESM) that enables procurement and provisioning of on-demand services.

Another new firm, Continuum, has devised a new backup and recovery platform called Continuum Vault featuring appliances built on HP, Dell or IBM hardware. The devices provide granular snapshot and retention capabilities, as well as file-level restoration of Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint applications. The Continuum Vault platform aims for end-to-end business continuity and cloud-based replication and recovery leveraging the company's assemblage of SAS 70 Type II, HIPAA-compliant data centers in the U.S. and Canada.

For appliances to be truly effective, they need a high degree of interoperability with the architectures and infrastructure of disparate cloud services. Open systems, therefore, should hold more influence over the cloud than they do in traditional data centers, which is why company's like StorSimple are warming up to platforms like OpenStack. As a first step, the company recently integrated Rackspace Cloud Files into its StorSimple appliance, offering a one-stop solution for primary, backup and archival storage, as well as disaster recovery and enhanced security.

Appliances and cloud computing seem to complement each other in ways few other pairings can. Not only do you get the ease of deployment and configuration on a relatively low-cost platform, but you gain the extreme scalability and wealth of resources of a global infrastructure.

If you've been hesitant about moving workloads to the cloud because of the complexity involved, it may be worth a shot to investigate an appliance-based approach.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 21, 2011 7:41 PM Lars Kalam Lars Kalam  says:

I've been using mypdv.com for a similar service and like using it

It is definitely the way forward for business, particularly ones who require collaboration with various employees and company.

I think email will also be the thing of the past, just like cameras because of phones....


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