An Omaha city employee recently gained unwanted public visibility after they sent twelve filing cabinets containing a hundred years of irreplaceable original building permits from the basement of City Hall to the county dump. It turns out that the head of the permits and inspections division decided to get rid of the cabinets as part of cleaning out its basement storage area. They did not realize that other city employees regularly pulled the permits, which dated from the 1880s through the 1980s. They were also apparently unaware that a local preservation group was developing a plan to move the permits to a new facility in order to make the permits more secure and accessible to the public.
Nobody wants to be the person that threw away valuable data. Yet how many times have IT teams sent out an email asking end-users to “clean up” their workspaces because a particular file system is full? Even in this era of big data and data analytics, businesses that are outgrowing their data storage systems may be hesitant to invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a new storage system and embark on a potentially painful data migration project.
Like Omaha’s City Hall, businesses often face what appear to be incompatible priorities. IT departments are expected to keep spending in check and know that only 10-20 percent of data is ever accessed after 60 days of its creation. But knowing which data to keep available and which data to delete or archive can be a challenge. This type of dilemma is one of many drivers in the development of a new group of storage systems–public cloud gateways.
Public cloud gateways offer some of the same features found in traditional storage systems with one important distinction—the ability to seamlessly store data the cloud. This new class of storage systems is garnering much deserved attention as the business demand of retaining vast amounts of data is requiring IT organizations to reevaluate their data storage strategy.
Public cloud gateways are a relatively new but dynamic segment of the data storage marketplace. Most public cloud gateways were released in the last four or five years, yet this market segment has already grown to an estimated $13.57 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $56.57 billion in 2019–a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33.1%. While the storage industry mainstays NetApp and EMC now offer products in this space, it has largely been led by a number of startups including Avere, CTERA, Nasuni, Panzura, StorSimple and TwinStrata.
Defining a Public Cloud Gateway
A Public Cloud Storage Gateway (PCG) is a physical or virtual appliance that resides on the customer’s premises and makes public cloud storage available to an organization’s users and applications via familiar file-based (and optionally block and/or object) protocols. The appliance may also serve as an on-premise storage system or integrate with other on-premise storage systems to provide low-latency access to cloud-based storage.
These gateways retain the active or “hot” data locally, generally on high-performance and relatively expensive cache or SSD. Some public cloud gateways immediately store a copy of all data to the cloud. Other PCGs use the cloud as a storage tier and as the data begins to “cool” (is accessed less frequently), the gateway migrates this static data to the cloud.
Business benefits of a Public Cloud Gateway
- Improve agility. Businesses can add capacity in the cloud on demand–eliminating long purchase and implementation delays.
- Reduce costs. Organizations can reduce storage, maintenance and administration costs by minimizing on premise storage expansion and/or reducing the number of active storage arrays.
- Pay only for what is actually used. Companies can capitalize on the cloud’s “pay-as-you-grow” options to retain larger archives without paying for unused capacity as well as benefit from the steady drop in cloud storage prices.
- Low-latency access to data in the cloud. Local caching of active data makes data appear to end-users as if was stored locally when it is primarily stored in the cloud. PCGs deliver the speed of local systems with the scalability and accessibility of the cloud.
- All data is available on demand. With cloud storage, the data you need is available when you need it. Active archives offer access to all of the data as if it had never been archived, eliminating the delays associated with restoring data from backups.
- Disaster recovery. Cloud storage provides the advantage of geographical redundancy and global availability which can aid in disaster recovery/business continuity.
Use Cases for a Public Cloud Gateway
The Public Cloud Gateway’s versatility make it appealing across businesses and industries regardless of size or location. Below are some common use cases for public cloud gateways:
- Branch offices. Branch offices gain low-latency access to the corporate data they need in spite of limited bandwidth.
- Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity. Public cloud gateways can be used to supplement disaster recovery and business continuity plans. The gateways can backup and access critical data in the cloud providing geographical redundancy and rapid recovery.
- Collaboration. Global namespace and file-locking capabilities allow organizations to use public cloud gateways as a collaboration tool to manage file sharing among users and make files available outside the corporate firewall.
- Archiving. The public cloud gateway allows businesses to seamlessly use cloud storage for active archives.
The ability to address multiple use cases and to resolve business dilemmas is resulting in rapid adoption of public cloud gateways. They offer a unique blend of local and unlimited cloud storage. As the market for cloud storage continues to grow and mature, look for public cloud gateways to find a home in many datacenters. Sloan, Karen. “Historians Grieve Archive Loss Valued Building Permits Dumped.” Omaha World Herald [Omaha] 19 Nov. 2006, News sec.: 01. Print.  “Public/Private Cloud Storage Market worth $56.57 Billion by 2019”, http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/cloud-storage.asp