A robust cloud storage strategy is key to business success. But creating a truly optimised infrastructure requires a careful evaluation of the cloud storage solutions.
You should consider 7 key characteristics when heading to the clouds:
1. Scalability. We should not only look at capacity, but should consider performance. The cloud storage solution must support an infrastructure-wide scale-out based, versus just a scale up approach, responding to the changing business demands. A scalable storage infrastructure gives a transparent path for growth, reduces disruption and minimizes downtime.
2. Integration with other cloud platforms. A unified, end-to-end provisioning across a heterogeneous platform is crucial to link with all other cloud platforms. It increases productivity across the infrastructure over more common two-stage or single platform approaches.
3. Openness. An open approach which is collaborative and future-proof heterogeneous, will ensure technology transitions can be conducted smoothly, and that performance and availability are maintained as more storage is needed.
4. Ease-Optimized. A cloud storage solution should be an intelligent approach based on "learned experience" on storage utilisation related to both capacity and performance. By leveraging intelligence, true ease-optimisation ensures that the right data is available and accessible when it's needed.
5. Consistent SLA. The cloud storage solutions must sustain and manage unpredictable workloads and ensure consistent SLAs are met beyond just a stable environment. The 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 can easily handle predictive and trend analysis in the event of bottleneck or over-utilisation.
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 which will effectively protect application and server Hypervisor awareness and ensure SLAs can always be maintained.
Following these seven characteristics provides a complete framework for assessing the available cloud storage solutions.
They should be considered together as they touch every aspect of a business and - most critically - its ability to grow.
Douglas Lo works with the Consulting, Storage, Systems and Technology Group, IBM China/Hong Kong Limited.
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