Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Greg Schulz, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo

Open Source Cloud: Blog Feed Post

Moving to the Cloud: Key Considerations for Cloud Storage

Cloud storage can be simultaneously simple and complex – just like cloud computing in general

This post is part of a series examining the issues involved when moving applications between internal data centers and public clouds.

The true challenges in storage and data management in the cloud result from the diverse and often unfamiliar processes and infrastructures offered by the cloud providers, including: new provisioning methods, storage properties, data population and transfer, and systems for data management (snapshots, clones, replication, backup). The cloud providers define the relationship between servers and storage and often impose constraints on everything from allocation size limits to the ways in which storage is managed. These are just some of the things you’ll want to consider as you start to think about integrating cloud computing into your existing IT environments.

I’d like to focus in detail on the complexity and variability of cloud provisioning and storage properties. There are different models for storage in existing compute clouds, with the most common being an “inclusive” storage model. In this model, each server comes with a certain amount of storage attached to it. The storage is a fixed capacity that is provisioned when you create the server from the pre-existing templates.

For example, Rackspace gives you disk space that is proportional to the memory (RAM) size you select.  The smallest memory/disk combination is 256MB of memory with 10GB of disk. With each doubling of memory, the disk space is also doubled until you get to roughly 16GB of memory and 640GB of disk.  With the new Terremark vCloud Express, you get a system disk that is predefined for each “template” server you select.  For a standard Linux distribution, you get a 10GB system disk, for Windows 2K3 you get a 20GB disk and for W2K8, you get a 40GB disk. Terremark’s vCloud Express allows you to add additional storage as new disks, while others (like Rackspace) allow to “resize” your servers and storage to create a new server with a larger disk and copy your data into it.

Amazon offers several distinct types of storage within EC2. The default storage you get with each server you create in the cloud is called “ephemeral” storage. You then have the option of allocating and attaching Elastic Block Storage (EBS), and there is also an object store system called Simple Storage Service (S3).  Ephemeral and EBS are standard “block storage” devices – meaning they are viewed and used as disks attached to your server (/dev/sdg in Linux, D: in Windows) while S3 requires an API or other tools to integrate with your systems. The good part about the EC2 storage offerings is that you have some powerful options as you build for the cloud; the hard part is mapping the proper resources to your applications and integrating this with your existing processes. Specifically, the base storage is ephemeral, which means that if you power-off the server, or it has a hard fault, all the data on that storage is lost. This means that everything on these drives (boot parameters, application updates, user data, logs, etc.) is subject to loss when you power off the machine. There are several methods of handling this situation: 1) Build your servers every time you start them from a formula or other sources such that you don’t depend on the base storage being persistent; 2) Use Amazon or third party tool sets to periodically “bundle” your servers into S3 (effectively taking a snapshot of the server); or 3) Attach EBS storage to your image and store your important data on persistent storage.

Turning to granularity, we find a wide range in the units or increments of available storage in the various cloud providers. There is the “included” storage mentioned above that is often based on the size of the server and the requested OS type. To add storage, we find cloud providers (such as Amazon) allowing 1GB increments up to 1TB, and others (like Flexiscale) allowing only fixed increments of 50GB/100GB/250GB. For Rackspace, you can resize both the server and storage according to the defined fixed ratios, but these are bound to memory and CPU so there is no independent scaling of storage. The bare-metal cloud provider NewServers allows iSCSI storage to be attached to your servers in 250GB increments. In the cloud these varied increments really matter, because you are paying by the GB/month and if you need just a little more storage, you could end up having to purchase 10x more storage than you need, or having to pay for more memory and compute than you need.

The conclusion we can draw is that there are numerous storage configuration options in the cloud, and these options become linked to the server “flavors” defined by individual cloud providers. Because you don’t have the same control or even mechanisms in the cloud as you do in the local data center, the manner in which you allocate, populate and manage data in the cloud will be different. The work you do to understand and map your applications’ requirements into cloud-based storage requires changing your processes to match those of the cloud, and often this work is cloud-specific.

Beyond configuration issues, of course, there are many other concerns. For example, with data management, you have to determine how you will get your data into the system, how to grow your systems and how to protect your data. Right now most clouds use template servers that you have to build up from a pre-installed base operating system using update mechanisms and then re-installing the application components. As for protecting your data, there are also many cloud-specific options available – from RAID-protected EBS in Amazon, to data snapshots and cloning, to backup services offered by companies like Rackspace.

The bottom line is that cloud storage can be simultaneously simple and complex – just like cloud computing in general. It’s simple to use if you just want to try something new; complex if you want to integrate cloud storage into your existing processes and infrastructures.

Next: Networking in the Cloud

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DivvyCloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DivvyCloud software enables organizations to achieve their cloud computing goals by simplifying and automating security, compliance and cost optimization of public and private cloud infrastructure. Using DivvyCloud, customers can leverage programmatic Bots to identify and remediate common cloud problems in rea...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
SYS-CON Events announced today that A&I Solutions has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 1999, A&I Solutions is a leading information technology (IT) software and services provider focusing on best-in-class enterprise solutions. By partnering with industry leaders in technology, A&I assures customers high performance levels across all IT environments including: mai...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tappest will exhibit MooseFS at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MooseFS is a breakthrough concept in the storage industry. It allows you to secure stored data with either duplication or erasure coding using any server. The newest – 4.0 version of the software enables users to maintain the redundancy level with even 50% less hard drive space required. The software func...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software in the hope of capturing value in IoT. Although IoT is relatively new in the market, it has already gone through many promotional terms such as IoE, IoX, SDX, Edge/Fog, Mist Compute, etc. Ultimately, irrespective of the name, it is about deriving value from independent software assets participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "We are a software house, so we perfectly understand challenges that other software houses face in their projects. We can augment a team, that will work with the same standards and processes as our partners' internal teams. Our teams will deliver the same quality within the required time and budget just as our partn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outscale's technology makes an automated and adaptable Cloud available to businesses, supporting them in the most complex IT projects while controlling their operational aspects. You boost your IT infrastructure's reactivity, with request responses that only take a few seconds.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...