Hybrid cloud storage has reinvented the way the cloud is used and implemented. Companies can use aspects of the cloud but choose to store data in a private or public cloud, or on their premises. They are opting to choose which data to store on site and what is stored in the cloud based on risk identification, bandwidth, and other factors. A public storage cloud is certainly fine for disaster recovery and backup, depending on the business’ needs, such as apache pig in the cloud.
Software storage by nature separates the data storage aspects from physical storage resources. This has given rise to services based solely on data storage and offerings such as software-defined networking. Administrators often have flexible management options while policy-based management may be automated. The biggest impact, however, is how vendors are evolving their product lines or creating new ones to accommodate the demand for hybrid cloud software storage.
There are evidently still some blurred lines. Vendors providing software-defined storage options in the cloud are generally considered market forces if their software enables the sharing of storage assets across their workloads. It may or may not be virtualized; clients just need to have full access to their resources through the software implemented. Hardware with software-driven functions and products without hardware lock-in are factors as well.
Hybrid Cloud Products Emerge
Dell, EMC, and VMWare have been forces in the storage market for some time. Some of the older (at least relatively so) arrays have been replaced or at the very least updated. The general trend is to incorporate hybrid cloud functions, data protection and management, and analytics.
The ScaleIO Node virtual SAN was an effort by EMC to accommodate the market. This same idea has been utilized by startups, including SimpliVity and Nutanix. Hyper-converged infrastructure appliances effectively converge storage, server, and networking components. Such appliances are being used by Lenovo (on Nutanix’s system) and Huawei, which has developed its own approach. The introduction of Nutanix’s Acropolis hypervisor and NexGen’s all-flash options have contributed to the software storage reinvention.
The current trends have gone beyond all-flash, the public cloud, and object storage. Regardless of how many storage products were introduced last year, 2016 promises to show the same trends. The rise and fall of one product line or another, or even specific technologies, should not slow it down. Vendors will still try to accommodate clients struggling with the transition to new forms of storage, and we’ll continue to see startups surge and stumble.
The Leaders Pave the Way
Companies leading in the hybrid software storage market include:
- EMC: CloudArray works on premise and in the cloud as a storage gateway, complete with 246-bit encryption. Data are replicated to the cloud and archived there; on-site access is not affected.
- Microsoft: The acquisition of StorSimple has given it a cloud storage gateway that stores primary data locally and automatically transfers infrequently used data and snapshots to an Azure storage system.
- Hitachi: With Hitachi Content Platform, businesses can build private clouds that can host up to 80 petabytes of information. It also automatically tiers data to a public cloud.
- NetApp: OnTap storage management software operates on a cloud-based virtual machine while interoperating with an on premise component, providing a top-notch data portability solution.
- RedHat: The company’s storage server is said to link private cloud storage with data managed in the Amazon public cloud.
- Amazon: The AWS Storage Gateway caches local data, stores them locally, or backs up snapshots to the cloud. It also functions as a virtual tape library backing up data off site.
Other forces in the hybrid cloud market, and reinventing software storage, include HP. Its HP Autonomy product backs up data to a private cloud using the public cloud. So are Avere, Nasuni, Panzura, and Ctera which offers a gateway with a local NAS and backup and replication to a cloud and virtual drive. There is no doubt the hybrid cloud is changing how software storage is generated, implemented, and marketed. New product offerings are sure to continue the trend throughout 2016 and become an important part of the future of cloud computing.