There is no longer any doubt that enterprise organizations will eventually adopt public storage clouds as part of their overall storage management strategy. So the question becomes, “What will serve as the flash point that will initiate the broader adoption of public storage clouds by enterprise organizations?”
Enterprises are put off both by the lack of enterprise features found in current public storage cloud offerings as well as by the missteps of today’s storage cloud service providers. Today’s offerings lack many of the configuration options and reporting tools that enterprises expect and demand while reports of outages and service providers terminating services only add to their concerns about adopting storage cloud services now.
Changing this perception among enterprises requires that service providers first understand what objections that enterprise organizations have to current storage cloud offerings and then offer a storage cloud solution that addresses these objections.
Enterprise organizations already understand that public storage clouds will be much more cost-effective than their current storage implementations. By switching to a public storage cloud, they avoid the upfront capital expenditures associated with storage that they purchase, ongoing operation expenses and staffing costs.
It is incumbent upon public storage cloud providers that they seek out and take advantage of the latest technologies to increase storage efficiency and utilization. Deduplication, object storage, thin provisioning and storage tiering are examples of technologies that service providers will need to utilize and become proficient in to keep their costs down over time so they can continue to provide a price-competitive public storage cloud offering.
As with consumers and small businesses, enterprise organizations look at whether or not a public storage cloud is “On” as a benchmark. However enterprises expand that definition to include the constant availability of any of their data that is hosted in the public storage cloud, not just the constant availability of the public storage cloud as a whole.
Satisfying the demands of an enterprise requires service providers to put in place a cloud storage infrastructure that is highly redundant, dynamically moves application workloads to the appropriate tier of storage, takes advantage of sophisticated monitoring technologies and has trained engineers to support this environment.
Every component of a public storage cloud intended for enterprise use not only needs to be monitored; it needs to be controlled and configured according to the client’s expectations.
To meet the varying requirements of each client, the public storage cloud that the service provider uses will need to include application-aware data protection and recovery options. These options will be found in technologies such as clones, snapshots and asynchronous and synchronous replication.
As service providers look to build out public storage clouds that host the data for enterprise organizations, network throughput and storage capacity will need to scale to unprecedented heights. Networks will need to deliver hundreds of gigabits per second (Gb/sec) in throughput and storage capacity will need to scale into the petabytes if not exabytes.
The challenge that storage providers will have is identifying a storage system that supports the range of features that they need. While many storage systems scale to offer high levels of availability, storage capacity and performance, those that can support Ethernet storage networking protocols and possess the number of network interfaces needed in an enterprise public storage cloud is much shorter.
Enterprise organizations want many features in a public storage cloud though they will only want to pay for the resources in it that they are using. In order to meet that expectation, services providers will have to measure what resources each enterprise organization is using so it can appropriately bill those organizations as well as track and forecast how the use of these resources is growing holistically across the storage cloud.
One of the primary values of a public storage cloud is that network and storage resources can be aggregated while simultaneously shared among multiple clients. Securely sharing these resources requires the introduction of multi-tenancy into the public storage cloud. This enables each client’s data to be logically and/or physically separated so only that client can access its data.
Multi-tenancy should be available in such a way that only that client can access its data without negatively impacting other applications or data that is stored in the public storage cloud. Further, if a client does make changes to the data that it stores in the cloud, these changes should not have a cascading or ripple effect such that it negatively impacts the applications or data of other clients stored in the cloud.
No matter how automated or simplified any public storage cloud is, it is bound to experience problems. Multiple hardware components may fail simultaneously, humans can and do make errors, and acts of God (earthquakes, floods, lightning strikes, etc.) occur which will then require some level of service.
In these circumstances, the service provider will need a storage provider that offers enterprise level support and trained individuals who understand how to respond so as to meet those needs quickly and professionally without aggravating the situation.