It’s been a little over a month since we launched, and the energy and momentum continue to build. It’s very exciting to unveil something unique that we believe will transform our industry in fundamental ways. We’re seeing the excitement at major shows — at VMworld, and this past week at re:Invent. It’s been evident in the reaction from press, analysts and industry bloggers, who recognize that we’re making a really big play: managing all the heavy lifting of primary storage, but delivering it to customers as a simple, on-demand service.
Until recently, this combination of primary storage and managed service wasn’t possible. Different approaches have been tried in the past — including several flavors of hosted or managed services and cloud storage services. But unlike all of those, the ClearSky model delivers the complete set of requirements for enterprise storage, and fills a need that the industry has long been waiting for. It begs the question: why is this the right time for this offering? Here are our thoughts on the forces that have converged to make this possible.
First and foremost, enterprises are now using clouds routinely to meet a variety of needs. We have heard first-hand from CIOs and heads of IT about their urgency to adopt a services model based on capacity-on-demand, and a willingness to consider running some of their operations outside their firewall, managed by a third-party. Without this strong input we would never have founded ClearSky. We built our groundbreaking model for a global storage network because there is a market for it.
There have also been several technology developments that enable us to deliver on the promises we’re making (and we’re making some big ones). These developments have become building blocks for our architecture, and make it possible for ClearSky to deliver storage as a service that enterprises can consume simply, securely and with confidence.
Dedupe, caching, compression and WAN optimization technologies make our Smart Tiered CachingTM possible. These are the bases for our secret sauce that continually categorizes data and places it in the right layer of our network, depending on how urgently it’s needed. The techniques optimize data at wire speed, unlike in the early days where there was a big performance hit. The optimization greatly reduces the amount of data traffic in the network so it doesn’t become a bottleneck as data flows between caching layers. It also greatly reduces the amount of high-performance caching capacity required, which helps us contain costs.
Our team has some of the world’s leading experts in data optimization technologies, and we know how to put those technologies to work. We’re leveraging them in unique ways for the benefit of our customers.
Object storage clouds
The next key building block is the emergence of public clouds built on object storage. These clouds provide fantastic capabilities for storing data: they’re incredibly scalable, extremely durable, super cheap and accessible worldwide. In all these dimensions, they provide improvements by many orders of magnitude compared to traditional primary storage models.
But public clouds are only good for specific things. They’re an ideal place to put data and leave it there, for archives, backups and disaster recovery. By understanding how to use public clouds for what they’re good at, we’re able to build snapshots, disaster recovery and data protection into the ClearSky architecture. This allows us to address more holistically the needs of enterprise data throughout its lifecycle.
Metro Ethernet connectivity
The final building block (and one that’s not as well-known as the others), is the presence of ubiquitous, low-cost metro Ethernet. There’s a huge amount of unused fiber in the ground, buried during the dot.com craze of the late 90s especially in densely populated urban areas. Most of the original players are long gone, but a whole industry of service providers has emerged to leverage these fiber assets. They specialize in providing dedicated, private Ethernet connections in metro areas across the globe, all accessible through colocation partners such as Digital Realty.
These private, high capacity lines are available at low cost (they’re much cheaper per unit of bandwidth than the internet), with none of the internet’s latency and performance issues. The ready availability of these 1Gb and 10Gb connections allows us to build the distributed network that we use for moving customer data between caching layers and to the cloud.
For all of these reasons, we truly believe that the time is right for a global storage network and that ClearSky is uniquely able to deliver it.
Learn more about how why the ClearSky global storage network is transforming enterprise IT.