IBM lists 7 considerations for cloud storage
By Asia Cloud Forum editors 27-Apr-2012
At the IBM Storage Summit in Hong Kong today, IBM announced seven key considerations for building a fully optimized cloud storage infrastructure.
Facing high data growth rates and the need to resource and budget effectively, Hong Kong enterprises are facing various storage challenges, which include data loss and data security, insufficient storage resources for mission critical applications, and lack of storage management tools.
"Hong Kong enterprises clearly need a cloud storage strategy that will help them optimize their storage infrastructure in line with their business objectives, and cloud storage is really the cornerstone of cloud computing," said Savio Ng (pictured, left), executive of systems and technology group, IBM China/Hong Kong. "As businesses grow, the challenges of protecting data, creating capacity for new data, and guaranteeing quick access to data, are crucial."
7 considerations for cloud storage
IBM advised businesses to carefully evaluate seven characteristics of cloud storage to create a fully optimized cloud storage infrastructure:
Businesses should look beyond capacity and consider performance. The cloud storage solution must support an infrastructure-wide scale out based, versus just a scale up approach, on a business' changing demands. A scalable storage infrastructure provides a transparent path for growth, and reduces disruption and minimizes downtime.
An open cloud storage solution helps organizations take advantage of the latest technologies. An open approach which is not based just on deployment but on a collaborative and future-proof heterogeneous approach, will ensure that technology transitions can be conducted smoothly, and that performance and availability are maintained as more storage is needed.
3. Integration with other cloud platforms
A unified, end-to-end provisioning across a heterogeneous platform is crucial to link with all other cloud platforms. When compared to more common two-stage or single platform approaches, this also increases productivity across the infrastructure.
A cloud storage solution should not just include an automatic policy-driven approach, but also an intelligent approach based on "learned experience" on storage utilization related to both capacity and performance. By leveraging intelligence, true ease-optimization ensures that the right data is available and accessible when it's needed.
5. Consistent SLA
Businesses are unpredictable so their cloud storage solutions must sustain and manage unpredictable workloads and ensure consistent SLAs are met beyond just a stable environment. Whether used for infrastructure expansion, data backup and recovery, or systems maintenance, the cloud storage solution must guarantee availability and performance that responds to the changing market dynamics.
6. Management interface
Beyond being user-friendly, the interface for cloud storage must be simple, and significantly minimize staff training time. A proactive management system should be in place to handle predictive and trend analysis in the event of bottleneck or over-utilization.
7. Appropriate data protection
Appropriate data protection standards should be a fit-for-purpose approach which closely ties to the SLAs, in accordance to the RTO, RPO, TCO, operation capabilities and retention policy. This will effectively protect application and server Hypervisor awareness and ensure SLAs can always be maintained.
Ng added that there are three elements that should be considered to ensure one's cloud storage is fully optimized: consultation through a best practice framework; leading technology; and a strong connection with business value. "As with any infrastructure decision, consultation is key to bridging the gap between technology and business value," he said.
Executives from Li & Fung and Venetian Macau who attended the event and shared views from a customer perspective.
Scalability and system availability
"As we continue to expand and acquire new businesses, we need a scalable system to support our business growth while ensuring our services aren't disrupted, downtime is minimal and performance isn't sacrificed," said Iman Mak (pictured, right), senior vice president of IT Services, Li & Fung. "Data Protection is also a major consideration for us and backup is definitely one of the important areas. We need a highly effective system to enable us to complete the backup on time with the least effort."
"Maintaining a high level of 24/7 support across four integrated resorts requires a pro-active management approach that ensures the highest level of system availability which is key for us to be able to deliver on our SLAs," said Thomas Dillon (pictured, middle), senior vice president of IT -- Asia, Venetian Macau.
"At the same time, the need for operational and deployment efficiency calls for a standardized infrastructure across all of our properties. This enables us to maintain a consistent site design and infrastructure for easy management by our site managers and to ensure our service levels and operations run seamlessly, regardless of any reshuffling of manpower resources," Dillon added.