The average storage system in any large organization is astonishingly complex. On a grand scale, one of the primary drivers is the need for speedy access to the data that applications need to perform, but without breaking the IT budget. That struggle has resulted in the creation of multiple storage tiers, in which less expensive data storage is used for less vital data. But data tiering has also caused storage technology complexity to balloon.
Data tiers are intricate enough, but to keep the business operating properly at all times, you also need data backup and disaster recovery systems. And then there’s the issue of access. Large organizations have multiple offices and apps in multiple clouds, all of which need access to data, which has driven IT to deploy cumbersome and complex replication schemes. With so many different systems being used for one basic service — storing data — it’s no wonder IT admins often look at it as a monster. Let’s take a look at each one of the heads of this beast.
Tiered storage and access
Primary storage is the main data storage tier for all businesses. It is often an on-premises NAS (network attached storage) system for files coupled with a SAN (storage area network) for block storage. The centralized primary storage has to serve large numbers of end users that could all be making updates to the same data store at the same time. This can lead to some complicated data replication schemes, because every end user has to see the latest updated data set. Many of those replication processes can result in explosive growth of the data sets, and managing the capacity of the NAS or SAN adds yet another head to the beast.
Data backup technology is often installed as a completely separate system that then integrates with your existing data storage system. That gives you an entirely new IT system to manage, from a performance and cost standpoint. And since it is a backup, it creates a separate copy of the data set, with a target that could be another on-premises storage system, an offsite location or the public cloud. Each of these targets requires its own method of monitoring, security and management.
Speaking of monitoring, there are entire FTEs (full-time equivalent) devoted to babysitting the backup process. Backups need to be ready to restore in the event that that primary data storage is somehow damaged, which makes the need for constant monitoring understandable. But it adds to operational complexity.
Read how organizations like Partners Healthcare and Miles & Stockbridge simplified their storage infrastructure through backup independence.
While a good backup scheme is vital to ensuring that your data is ready to be restored, it would be a business-killer if there wasn’t a system in place to have that restoration happen as rapidly and smoothly as possible. Having someone drive in a box full of tape cartridges from a remote location is not the right kind of system, which is why you need a separate DR (disaster recovery) infrastructure if you want your business to stay in operation as close to 24/7 as possible. But that means you have added an entirely redundant data center to an already complex, interconnected (if you are doing it right) system.
Storage service as the hero
ClearSky Data takes all of the elements of a complex data storage infrastructure and offers it to you as a single, simple service. Primary storage, offsite data backup and DR are all built into the service from the ground up. There is no need to struggle with making sure each separate system fits and works with all the others in your traditional data storage infrastructure, because our service is designed with each function in mind at every stage.
Your primary storage is distributed across our storage network, from an on-premises edge appliance for vital “hot” data, to a nearby metro POP for “warm” data, to the public cloud for “cold” data and the master copy of the entire data set. Backup happens continuously throughout the network so the data set that the end application is using is the same as all other applications, no matter where the end user is physically.
This also allows the built-in backup and DR system to provide an RPO of zero and an RTO that’s measured in minutes. And since it is part of the service, that DR requires no extra configuration or management, providing true backup independence. The complexity beast is slain, all of its heads defeated by the simplicity of a completely integrated data storage system that offers the best aspects of on-premises, remote and public cloud storage as a single service.
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