Public Cloud Storage Buying Guide

Posted on July 07, 2016 By Drew Robb


Enterprises have plenty of public cloud storage options. According to Gartner, the worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 16.5 percent this year to reach $204 billion. This is up from $175 billion in 2015. Gartner analyst Sid Nag said this strong growth reflects a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services.

Another study by HyTrust, Industry Experience: the 2016 State of the Cloud and Software-Defined Data Center in Real-World Environments, found that Microsoft Azure is the most popular cloud service at 32 percent, followed by 24 percent for VMware vCloud Air, and 22 percent for Amazon Web Services (AWS). Eric Chiu, president of HyTrust, said that the industry verticals that showed the most trust for storage in the public cloud were financial services, insurance and healthcare. Among those surveyed, those with the biggest plans to move additional workloads to the public cloud this year included financial services/insurance, technology companies, healthcare and retail. Disaster Recover (DR) came up as a top priority to move to the public cloud, added Chiu.

Let’s take a look at the latest storage news from some of these public cloud storage services.

Microsoft Azure

Azure’s latest cloud storage offering is Cool Blob Storage, which offers low-cost storage for infrequently accessed object data. It can be used, for example, for backup, media content, scientific data, compliance or archival data. Azure provides hot and cool access tiers to store object data based on access patterns. This means that you can store data in this tier for as little as $0.01 per GB (varies from region to region).

The Cool tier, however, provides a similar performance profile in terms of latency and throughput. The main difference is availability guarantees. Hot is 99.9 percent while Cool is 99 percent.

“An important aspect of managing storage costs is tiering your data based on attributes like frequency of access and retention period,” said Sriprasad Bhat, senior program manager, Azure Storage. “In general, any data that is seldom accessed is a candidate for cool storage.” He said that storage companies such as Commvault, Veritas, SoftNAS, Cohesity and CloudBerry Lab are using Cool Blob Storage.

vCloud Air

vCloud Air is a VMware-built and operated cloud, running on the vSphere hypervisor. The basic idea is to make vCloud Air a place to run the applications that are running on vSphere in private data centers today, and to make that possible in the cloud with the existing skills and tools. A vCloud Air user can migrate vSphere VMs to one of the VMware data centers seamlessly. This is not limited to VMs; users’ can bring over their network settings, and other network features. You can also stretch on-premises network segments in to the cloud to add flexibility and portability. Some uses are using vCloud Air to extend the capacity they have in their existing data centers, while others are replacing their data centers altogether with cloud storage and compute resources, or using it for disaster recovery and resiliency.

“There are various third-party tools that tout their ability to clone your data based on time, usage, classification or whatever and whisk it off to a cloud provider somewhere, handling all the conversions necessary along the way,” said Jim Armstrong, group PMM Lead, vCloud Air, VMware. “At vCloud Air we have focused on moving existing applications with as little conversion and change as possible, providing VM migration tools and disaster recovery services that handle the data movement for our users.”

Google Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Storage is said to offer developers and IT organizations durable and highly available object storage. Three options address different application and economic needs, each using the same Application Programming Interface (API) for a consistent method of access. Standard level services costs $0.026 per GB/month. It has a pay-for-what-you-use model. Costs can be further reduced by archiving objects to Cloud Storage Nearline and through scheduled deletions. Multiple copies are redundantly stored across multiple locations. Standard storage offers 99.9 percent monthly availability while Nearline has 99 percent availability.

“Cloud storage provides on-demand capacity without the need for provisioning future capacity, as well as greater data security, higher availability and durability at lower cost,” said Dominic Preuss, group product manager for storage, Google Cloud Platform.

Amazon Elastic Block Storage

One of the cloud storage options at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Elastic Block Store (EBS) has recently announced Amazon EBS Throughput Optimized HDD and Amazon EBS Cold HDD volumes. They deliver consistent performance for Big Data workloads as well as the ability to burst to higher throughput for demanding applications. Users pay for the storage they provision, with no additional charges for throughput, and prices start at $0.025/GB month.

“Over the last several years, AWS has delivered a series of SSD-based Amazon EBS volumes that enabled customers to run their most IOPS-intensive applications successfully and cost-effectively," said Peter DeSantis, vice president, compute services at AWS. “But for big data workloads, HDDs still remain the optimal block storage solution. These two new Amazon EBS volumes make HDDs more efficient to run throughput-intensive, big data workloads.”

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