Data storage vendors are pairing up with cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure as a way to broaden their offerings and lower storage costs for their customers. After all, the economies of scale offered by the likes of Google, Microsoft and Amazon make it hard for others to compete on raw cloud storage. But these providers offer further services to add additional value. That can be a blessing or a curse depending on how smartly you deploy them.
Here are eight tips from the experts on how to maximize the value of the cloud storage services provided by Microsoft Azure.
Augie Gonzalez, director of product marketing, DataCore Software, advises others to take small steps before they throw all their storage eggs into an Azure basket. There are so many factors to take into account that a mere reading of the pricing sheet wont suffice. You have to experience how it all works and see how that translates into a monthly bill before you can really appreciate the nuances of cloud pricing.
Explore the variables that you can rapidly adjust to meet variations in the capacity and performance of the Azure cloud storage by starting with a modest pilot program, said Gonzalez.
Plenty of enterprises are evolving all-cloud strategies at a top management level. But its up to those on the ground floor of storage to inject some reality into the equation. Those at the top are attracted by the huge potential cost savings of the cloud. They have lived through years of on-prem IT and storage cost overruns and budgetary bickering. They are keen to simplify, cut costs and move storage over to more of a utility model.
But caution is advised. Its up to storage managers to figure out tactically how to make actual savings. And in most cases, that means the avoidance of an all-cloud now approach. That doesnt mean that its an undesirable long-term goal. But in the short term, the best way forward is to find the low-hanging fruit, learn the ropes and add more cloud from there.
Identify spot uses for Azure cloud storage where its flexibility and convenience bring immediate payoff, without having to deliberate on long-term strategic decisions that tend to bog down the initial taste, said Gonzalez.
Many in IT have experience in using colocation facilities. They are aware of the way colos work and how to factor in the different elements to determine what is worth collocating and what is not. So for those less familiar with Azure pricing, yet who are being urged by management to head for the cloud in a big way, Gonzalez advice is to think of the cloud in a similar way to colocation economics.
Look at Azure the way you might assess a colocation facility, but with someone else taking care of the day-to-day chores necessary to keep the servers and storage infrastructure running well, he said. Tap the services of experienced hybrid cloud solution providers to expedite the process.
The above points all add up to gaining an understanding of all the real-world costs of cloud storage. This goes far beyond storage capacity, and delves into bandwidth, compute fees, the cost of API calls, event monitoring, and the oft-forgotten inter-region, intra-region and intra-cloud communication charges, said Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group.
Likewise, understand the difference between ephemeral local on the instance and persistent storage, as well as other cloud storage options, he said. Its not just about blobs, objects, containers and buckets.
Schulz added that flexibility is key, and that means finding the right balance. A blinkered look only at very low storage costs in the cloud may appear to save a bundle. But the corresponding compute charges or network and gateway as well as API fees may kill any real savings. Its best to view the various services and see which one works best for you. That may mean paying a little more for storage in order to get more compute and lower latency. That might either be cheaper or gain the organization greater productivity.
Look at all of your options, including where your applications are going to be located in order to maximize cloud efficiency, said Schulz. Also, understand how licensing works. There can be pricing advantages which are constantly changing, as are the resiliency, regions and location support.
An important consideration in any cloud strategy is latency. You dont want your users to have to go out to the cloud every time they need to access data. That could mean delay. After all, the request has to come from your own internal systems, be fed over the Web to the cloud, be processed there, and then make its way back.
There are ways around this, of course. Azure provides compute resources for a premium to greatly reduce latency. Similarly, storage providers add value by taking the latency out of the process via various strategies. Nasuni, for example, has a cache-from-cloud architecture.
Azure is used to store the authoritative gold copies of all files, but frequently accessed files are stored locally in edge appliances for fast access, said Warren Mead, vice president, alliances and business development, Nasuni.
To paraphrase Scottish poet Robert Burns, The best laid plans of mice and storage managers often go astray. This is particularly the case when security is not taken into account in an otherwise carefully thought out plan to slash storage costs when heading for the cloud. The plan may save millions, but if it violates security policies or leaves the organization less in control, it wont be approved.
Many cloud storage services either do not use encryption, or hold the encryption keys themselves, said Mead. You also need to consider what authentication and access procedures will be used for cloud storage.
Again, storage providers are coming up with ways to address security concerns and give enterprises greater control. Nasuni, for instance, lets customers hold their own encryption keys, which means neither Microsoft nor Nasuni can access sensitive data. Similarly, it integrates with on-premises Active Directory (AD) implementations and uses standard CIFS/SMB protocols to present access to file shares on the edge appliances the same as traditional NAS. Access to the cached local data is governed by standard AD authentication, and the usual drive letters still apply. As a result, user drives dont have to be re-mapped, and automation scripts and workflows dont need to be changed.
Yes, caution is advisable, and Azure storage and services sometimes cost more than expected. But for everyone who has gotten an unfortunate surprise at the end of the billing period, there are many more who have reaped the benefits of cloud storage financially and otherwise.
Thats why Schulz recommends doing a proof-of-concept for functionality, management, day-to-day operations, troubleshooting and how to refine process and procedures, as well as testing performance before you leap. Also, know what tools you have in your toolbox for moving, migrating, optimizing and managing cloud services and cloud storage.
But dont be afraid of using cloud services, just be prepared and informed, said Schulz.
In other words, be bold. Fortune favors the bold, after all.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
- Azure Cloud Storage Solutions and Services | Microsoft Azure - May 28th, 2018
- Cloud Storage Pricing | Cloud Storage Documentation ... - May 10th, 2018
- Understanding cloud storage services: A guide for beginners - May 1st, 2018
- Foscam Cloud - April 7th, 2018
- Data Storage - Flash Storage, NAS, Object ... - Dell EMC US - April 7th, 2018
- Best Cloud Storage Providers 2017 Reviewed & Rated - December 13th, 2017
- Cloud Storage Topics - SearchCloudStorage - October 18th, 2017
- Cloud Storage - 2017 News, Articles and Trends - Tom's IT Pro - October 18th, 2017
- Cloud Storage Pricing Comparison: AWS, Azure, Google, and B2 - October 18th, 2017
- 18 free cloud storage options | Network World - September 19th, 2017
- Best Cloud Storage Solutions For Your Small Business - CBS Chicago - CBS Chicago - September 7th, 2017
- How Secure Is Cloud-Based Data Storage? - HuffPost - September 7th, 2017
- Best Cloud Storage Solutions For Your Small Business - CBS Detroit - September 7th, 2017
- Deals: A Lifetime Of 2TB Cloud Storage For 90% Off - Gizmodo Australia - September 7th, 2017
- There's a lot more to the Cloud than storage these days and competition is getting crowded - Financial Post - September 2nd, 2017
- Cloud storage provider Box's revenue rises as growth slows - Reuters - August 31st, 2017
- Whatchu doin' Upthere? Western Digital moves on cloud storage space - The Register - August 30th, 2017
- pCloud First Cloud Storage Provider to Offer Lifetime Plan | 08/29/17 ... - Markets Insider - August 30th, 2017
- Nearly 300 years worth of porn was recorded to test Amazon's ... - Neowin - August 30th, 2017
- Western Digital (WDC) Acquires Cloud-Storage Startup Upthere - Nasdaq - August 29th, 2017
- Faction Partners with CoreSite to Launch Multi-Cloud Storage and ... - Business Wire (press release) - August 29th, 2017
- A Man Backing Up Millions Of GB Of Porn May Have Ended ... - Indiatimes.com - August 29th, 2017
- pCloud First Cloud Storage Provider to Offer Lifetime Plan - PR Newswire (press release) - August 29th, 2017
- Person tests Amazon's "unlimited" cloud storage by uploading 1.8 petabytes of porn - Boing Boing - August 27th, 2017
- Hedvig Advances Private, Hybrid and Multi-cloud Storage with New Integrations, Security, and All-flash Capabilities - insideBIGDATA - August 27th, 2017
- Why Storage Companies Are Partnering with Microsoft Azure for ... - Enterprise Storage Forum - August 26th, 2017
- Microsoft Unveils Cost-Cutting Archival Cloud Storage Option - eWeek - August 25th, 2017
- A Redditor Archived Nearly 2 Million Gigabytes of Porn to Test Amazon's 'Unlimited' Cloud Storage - Motherboard - August 25th, 2017
- Back up everything with lifetime 2TB cloud storage for under $50 - Popular Science - August 25th, 2017
- Google Cloud: How to Reduce Data Storage Costs and Maximize Performance - Enterprise Storage Forum - August 23rd, 2017
- Enterprises Encounter Cloud Storage Cost and Management Challenges - Enterprise Storage Forum - August 23rd, 2017
- Cisco Validates SwiftStack's hybrid cloud storage software - Read IT Quik - August 23rd, 2017
- Another Free Data Backup Option Bites The Dust - Fortune - August 22nd, 2017
- Apollo Cloud 2 Duo offers personal cloud storage with no monthly fees - Techaeris - August 22nd, 2017
- pCloud first cloud storage provider to offer lifetime plan - PRUnderground (press release) - August 22nd, 2017
- Top 5 tips for doing a cloud storage cost analysis - Information Age - August 21st, 2017
- How offsite solutions can complement NAS setups - The Register - August 21st, 2017
- BBB Tip of the Week: What to look for in cloud storage - The Spokesman-Review - August 20th, 2017
- Get 2 TB of Cloud Storage from Zoolz for Life for Just $50 - The Escapist - August 20th, 2017
- Optimize a public cloud storage service with these performance tips - TechTarget - August 19th, 2017
- XenData Launches Hybrid Cloud Storage Appliance Optimized for Media Files - Broadcasting & Cable - August 16th, 2017
- Lima Ultra: Tiny, personal cloud storage which just misses the mark - ZDNet - August 16th, 2017
- Secure 2TBs of cloud storage space for life for under $50 - TNW - August 16th, 2017
- Results: do you pay for extra cloud storage? How much do you need? - Phone Arena - August 16th, 2017
- XenData Debuts CX-10 Hybrid Cloud Storage Appliance - TV Technology - August 16th, 2017
- Datrium Splits Provisioning to Boost Private Cloud Storage - SDxCentral - August 16th, 2017
- Migrating from server to cloud storage - THE BUSINESS TIMES - August 16th, 2017
- Film maker shuns cloud storage for Spectra Logic tape - ComputerWeekly.com - August 14th, 2017
- NetApp Has Better Storage Trends than Pure, Says Maxim - Barron's - August 14th, 2017
- Cloud Backup vs Local Backup Which Option Should I Choose To Protect My Data? - Fossbytes - August 14th, 2017
- Cloud Storage Works Better With Cloud Secure! - MustTech News - August 13th, 2017
- UPDATE -- Maxwell Health Reduces Cloud Storage Costs and Reduces Recovery Times with Datos IO RecoverX for ... - GlobeNewswire (press release) - August 12th, 2017
- Cloud Storage: Mature Saturation or Early Adopter Phase? | Hacked ... - Hacked - August 10th, 2017
- How To Have Cloud Storage and Backup For Life For Less - Daily Beast - August 10th, 2017
- Wasabi Technologies takes on Amazon S3 on price, performance - TechTarget - August 8th, 2017
- Here's one good reason to not rely on cloud storage - Business Insider Australia - August 6th, 2017
- Veritas Technologies Named a Leader in the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Center Backup and Recovery ... - Markets Insider - August 6th, 2017
- Microsoft wants your cloud storage to sleep with the fishes, literally - Digital Trends - August 5th, 2017
- MEGA Privacy brings 50GB of free cloud storage space to Windows 10 - Windows Report - August 5th, 2017
- Team sets new record for magnetic tape storagemakes tape competitive for cloud storage - Phys.Org - August 3rd, 2017
- Attala Systems Announces Its High Performance Composable Storage Infrastructure Technology for Cloud and Analytics - PR Newswire (press release) - August 3rd, 2017
- Hybrid cloud technology gets the most out of primary storage workloads - TechTarget - August 2nd, 2017
- IBM and Sony breakthrough on tape storage density could lower cold storage costs again - GeekWire - August 2nd, 2017
- Mega's beta cloud storage app for Windows 10 now open to ... - Windows Central - August 1st, 2017
- Startup Morro Data launches CloudNAS services for SMBs - TechTarget - August 1st, 2017
- Morro Data Announces CloudNAS | StorageReview.com - Storage ... - StorageReview.com - August 1st, 2017
- IBM deprecates its first cloud storage platform - www.computing.co.uk - July 31st, 2017
- Senate Resurrects Cloud Storage Protections Bill | Broadcasting ... - Broadcasting & Cable - July 31st, 2017
- Geared up to make best use of cloud storage, AI: Naidu - The Hindu - July 31st, 2017
- Hybrid Cloud Gives Government Flexibility for Storage Needs [#Infographic] - FedTech Magazine - July 12th, 2017
- Scality Zenko.io brings hybrid cloud storage virtualisation - ComputerWeekly.com - July 12th, 2017
- Cloud Storage Privacy Policies: What It All Means - Cloudwards - July 12th, 2017
- Quantum to Present on Cloud Storage for Media Workflows at SMPTE17 in Sydney - Below the Line - July 12th, 2017
- Security lapse leaks data from millions of Verizon customers - KKTV 11 News - July 12th, 2017
- Why Cloud Backup Alone is Not Enough - Net Newsledger - July 10th, 2017
- Degoo Affordable Cloud Storage Solution | NewsWatch Review - NewsWatch - July 10th, 2017
- Maxthon Offers Free Cloud Storage Space And Cash Bonus For Its ... - PR Newswire (press release) - July 7th, 2017
- Microsoft Teams updated on iOS and Android with new cloud ... - OnMSFT (blog) - July 5th, 2017
- Storage the favourite use case for public cloud customers - ComputerWeekly.com - July 5th, 2017
- Clean up and protect your devices with 2TB of ultra-secure cloud storage only $59.99 - TNW - July 2nd, 2017