Written by Nicos Vekiarides, EMC Vice President of Cloud Technology
With proclamations of 2016 as the year of all flash storage, you may be tempted to think flash drives are the main consideration when choosing a storage array. However, a storage array has a variety of attributes that influence the purchasing decision, including a trusted brand, interoperability, availability, copy services and many others.
Cloud-readiness, or the array’s native ability to attach to cloud/object storage, is an attribute of storage arrays that is gaining prominence as part of the selection criteria. This is for a good reason, as cloud storage can balance the continuous need for on-premises and off-premises storage capacity with economics that make it viable.
If you are wondering whether cloud-readiness should be part of your selection criteria, consider the following:
Your organisation has cloud initiatives. Even if not formalised, cloud initiatives may be in the early stages. Regardless of whether they involve public, private or a hybrid mix of clouds, cloud-ready storage arrays (like VMAX) give you the option to realise these initiatives in the future, preserving the flexibility and interoperability to architect the cloud solution of your choice, without necessitating any “rip and replace” of existing infrastructure.
Leverage existing investment in cloud/object storage. Perhaps you’ve already invested in object storage technology or public cloud storage. Maybe only isolated or specialised teams are leveraging it. In such cases, keeping cloud storage siloed tends to defeat many of its benefits. Sharing the economics and elasticity makes a lot more sense. Cloud-readiness enables your storage arrays to also consume cloud/object storage, improving multi-tenancy, scale and overall economics.
Efficient use of primary storage resources. Despite the meteoric rise of all flash primary storage, not all data requires the low latency and high speed of flash, particularly data that ages and becomes less active. A strategy to move less active data to cloud/object storage can maintain online data accessibility while maximising primary storage efficiently to serve mission critical applications that require the high performance of flash.
Improved utilisation. Having an external pool for storage expansion not only makes planning a lot less cumbersome, but can also improve target utilisation rates with increased confidence. With a cloud object/storage pool offering instantly available overflow capacity, a target 70% utilisation rate can easily advance to 90%. Even the unthinkable — running over 100% utilisation — becomes a viable and sustainable option.
Relatively modest initial investment. One of the core tenets of cloud storage is pay-as-you-go. Cloud-readiness is the capability to use cloud, with no specific capacity commitments, and only a modest up-front investment. Contrast this to a much costlier investment to retrofit a platform that isn’t cloud-ready.
The verdict? Whether you are part of an organisation using cloud storage, planning to use cloud storage or simply considering it as part of a future strategy, it’s not about if you are using the cloud but about when. With that in mind, consider the benefits cloud-readiness can bring to your future storage strategy.