Category Archives: Storage as a Service

Storage Wars: Cloud vs. the Card for Storing Mobile Content

Cloud storageIn May, Samsung announced what it describes as the world’s highest capacity microSD card. The Samsung EVO+ 256GB microSD card has enough space to store more than 55,000 photos, 46 hours of HD video or 23,500 MP3 files and songs. It can be used for phones, tablets, video cameras and even drones. It’s set to be available in 50 countries worldwide.

The announcement of Samsung’s new card comes at a time when the amount of mobile content that consumers are creating, consuming and storing on their smartphones and mobile devices is increasing at an exponential rate.  The Growing number of connected devices with advanced features, including high-resolution cameras, 4K video filming and faster processors, are fuelling a global ‘content explosion’.  The content being created today is richer and heavier than ever, placing a growing strain on device storage capacities which could damage the data and impair user experience.

Earlier this year, 451 Research and Synchronoss Technologies charted the growth of smartphone content and found that the average smartphone user now generates 911MB of new content every month. At this rate, a typical 16GB smartphone – which already has almost 11GB of user content on it – will fill up in less than two months.  Given that a high proportion of smartphone owners have low-capacity devices – 31% 16GB; 57% 32GB or smaller – many will (if they haven’t already) quickly find themselves having to make difficult decisions. At the moment, this means having to frequently remove photos, videos and apps to make room for new ones.

It’s also surprising that almost half of smartphone users have no off-device storage in place at all, despite the variety of storage options available. One option is a hardware solution like a memory card. Samsung claim its new microSD card delivers a seamless experience user when accessing, sharing and storing content between different devices (depending on compatibility, of course). Samsung’s suggested price for this experience is $250 however there is another storage option for end-users, the cloud.

Cloud-based storage arguably provides a more flexible and secure method for end-users to back up, transfer and restore their precious content. A memory card, like a phone, can be damaged, lost or stolen. In contrast, the cloud is an ever-present secure repository that retains and restores consumers’ files, photos and media, even if they lose or damage their device or card. However, even in the US, the most mature market for consumer uptake of cloud storage services, more than half of smartphone users are not currently using the cloud to manage their smartphone content.

But why should operators care? 

Subscriber loyalty to operators is being tested. Rather than receive a subsidised handset as part of a contract with an operator, growing numbers of people purchase their devices directly in a regular subscription agreement with the manufacturer instead. Rather than commit to a long-term contract, these consumers enter into no-obligation rolling connectivity-only agreements with their operator.

Offering consumers access to a personal cloud platform is an important opportunity for operators to re-engage with these consumers and keep them tied to their services. Helping subscribers manage the spiralling volumes of their content could be much more effective for operators than faddish offers and promotional bundles to keep subscribers connected to their brand and their ecosystem.

While there is already a lot of cloud competition in the market, such as Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and Box, however hosted storage and access has the potential to be much more than a “me too” play for operators, or even an answer to churn.

Cloud services can be a viable revenue generator for operators in their own right. They equip operators with an attractive channel for brand partnerships and developers to reach subscribers with an expanded ecosystem of services. Considerable productivity and profitability benefits can also be found, including reducing time on device-to-device content transfer and freeing up operators’ in-store staff for more in-depth customer engagement.

Operators shouldn’t approach the provision of cloud technology with unease. After all, their core business is all about providing secure wireless transport for voice and increasingly data quickly, at scale, and to a wide range of mobile phones and other connected devices. Cloud storage and access is the natural extension of this business. Of course, given the current climate of heightened awareness around privacy and security, it’s crucial to work with a vendor with a strong track record.  However, operators should realise they’re in a stronger position than they think when it comes to providing cloud services.

Written by Ted Woodbery, VP, Marketing & Product Strategy at Synchronoss Technologies

Iliad undercuts Microsoft, Google and AWS in cloud storage wars

Online.netFrench telco Iliad has challenged the cloud storage market through its subsidiary, undercutting the standing players in the market, reports

The new product offering, C14, was launched under the radar as the team has not made a public announcement to date, but simply added a new page onto its website. C14 targets the long-term storage market, aiming to engage customers who do not need immediate access to data and will be aiming to use the service for years, if not decades.

“C14 is designed to store huge volume of data for long term, like digital archiving, digital long term preservation, logs storage, pictures, videos, backups, disaster recovery plan… Why not backup all your Hadoop cluster for a few euros?” the company states on the website.

“Your important data are encrypted AES-256 and replicated many times then stored in our 25 meters deep underground fallout shelter, located in Paris, with no known natural, technological and military risks. We offer a very high software and physical security and comes with 8 compliance certifications and can be used for medical, military and bank data and fit all requirements of disaster recovery plan needs.”

While the storage market is a congested arena for the moment, the team have seemingly pinned hope of success on price as opposed to a unique selling point. The team claim C14 offers the lowest TCO on the market, undercutting the likes of AWS’ Glacier offering, OVH PCA Object Storage and also GoogleCloud Nearline. Only the Blackblaze enterprise offering is cheaper than C14, assuming all the figures are accurate.

IBM and SanDisk join forces to create software defined flash storage for cloud

Sandisk infiniflashFlash storage maker SanDisk and IBM are working together on a new software defined, all flash storage system for data centres. News of this collaboration comes days after BCN revealed that EMC had introduced a new category of flash storage for the same market.

SanDisk’s new InfiniFlash, a high capacity and performance flash-based software defined storage system, features IBM’s Spectrum Scale file system. The joint product is the two manufacturers’ answer to the increasing demands faced by data centres who can never get enough capacity and performance and will need more flexibility in future. An all flash system gives the requisite computing power and the IBM-authored software definition provides the agility, according to SanDisk.

Flash is the only technology that can support the many variables of the modern hybrid cloud, according to SanDisk, which listed bi-modal IT, traditional and cloud native applications and the increasing workload created by social, mobile and real-time processing as drivers for the need for a powerful storage infrastructure. The InfiniFlash for IBM Spectrum is described as ultra-dense and scalable, meaning that it can be bought in small increments that can be easily snapped to together to quickly build a hyperscale infrastructure. SanDisk claimed it offers the lowest price per IOPS/TB on the market and the option for independent storage.

SanDisk claims InfiniFlash has five times the density, fifty times the performance and four times the reliability of traditional hard disks, while using 80% less power. Pricing starts at $1 per gigabyte (GB) for an all-flash system. When used with software stacks designed to reduced data (through de-duplication and other techniques) the cost of storage could fall to around 20 cents per GB, claims SanDisk.

The IBM Spectrum Scale, meanwhile, uses software definition to create efficiencies through file, object and integrated data analytics designed for technical computing, big data analysis, cognitive computing, Hadoop Distributed File System, private cloud and content repositories.

Ravi Swaminathan, SanDisk’s general manager of System and Software Solutions, promised the ‘best of both worlds’ to data centres. “Customers can afford to deploy flash at petabyte-scale, which drive business growth through new services and offerings for their end-customers,” said Swaminathan.

EMC claims it can make data centres All Flash and no downtime

EMC quantum leapAs EMC prepares for its takeover by Dell it claims it has made ‘significant changes’ to its storage portfolio, converting its primary offering to All Flash, modernising array pricings and introducing a new category of flash storage, DSSD D5 at its Quantum Leap event.

EMC’s flagship VMAX All Flash enterprise data services platform and its new DSSD D5 rack-scale flash system are part of a new drive to persuade data centres to use flash technology as their primary storage medium. The vendor claims that by 2020 all storage used for production applications will be flash-based with traditional disk relegated to the roll of bulk storage and archiving.

The new all-flash portfolio will be used by databases, analytics, server virtual machines and virtual desktop infrastructures, says EMC, which predicts that the need for predictable performance with sub-millisecond latencies will persuade data centres to make the extra investment. ENC’s new XtremIO is designed for high-end enterprise workloads, while VMAX All Flash will consolidate mixed block and file workloads that require up to 99.9999% availability, as well as rich data services, IBM mainframe and iSeries support and scalable storage growth up to four petabytes (PB) of capacity.

The DSSD D5 Rack-Scale Flash, meanwhile, is for the most performance-intensive, traditional and next-generation use cases, such as getting microsecond response times on Oracle and Hadoop based analytics jobs. Meanwhile, the new VNX Series arrays represent an entry level all-flash offering which starts at $25,000.

EMC announced that the VMAX array has been re-engineered to offer two new all-flash models: the EMC VMAX 450 and EMC VMAX 850. Both are designed to capitalise on the performance of flash and the economics of today’s latest large-capacity SSDs.

Finally, EMC also announced the DSSD D5 which, it claimed, will be a quantum leap in storage technology, with its new Rack-Scale Flash. TEMC said the new invention will be used in high production applications such as genetic sequencing calculations, fraud detection, credit card authorisation and advanced analytics.

EMC claims it will create a ten fold surge in performance levels. The storage hardware is capable latency of 100 microseconds, throughput at 100 GB/s and IOPS of up to 10 million in a 5U system. EMC DSSD D5 will be generally available in March 2016.

IBM launches object-based storage for the cloud

Cloud storageNew object-based cloud storage could tackle the growing challenge presented by unstructured data, according to IBM.

Announcing a new Cloud Object Storage at its InterConnect 2016 event in Las Vegas, IBM said the object storage technology it acquired from Cleversafe creates a fast, flexible, hybrid cloud storage service that gives companies new options for managing and analysing data.

Researcher IDC says 80% of new cloud apps will be big-data intensive. The cloud, mobile, IoT, analytics, social media, cognitive and other technologies all conspire to increase the data management workload, said John Morris, general manager of IBM Cloud Object Storage. Bringing Cleversafe technology to the cloud will give clients a way to keep on top of the problem.

The service offers a choice of multiple application programming interfaces and the option to store massive amounts of data on-premise, on the IBM Cloud or in a hybrid of both.

In June, when the Cloud Object Storage services is launched, it will come in three configurations: Nearline, Standard and Dedicated.

Nearline is a cloud infrastructure for infrequently accessed data charged at a lower cost and ideal for archive; back-up and other non-timely workloads. The Standard offering will provide a higher performance public cloud offering based on the Cleversafe technology with three new APIs into S3 Object storage.

The Dedicated option gives a single-tenant IBM Object Storage system running on dedicated servers in IBM Cloud data centres. This is available as an IBM managed service or as a self-managed cloud solution and gives clients access to object storage without needing for extra hardware or data centre space.

IBM Cloud Object Storage will be available in a variety of licensing models, including perpetual, subscription or consumption. This means customers can buy storage capacity with the flexibility to move data between the enterprise and the cloud as business needs change. It will also support both file and object workloads, so enterprises can have a single data storage hub that supports both traditional and web-based applications.

Cohesity claims data silo fragmentation solution

Data visualisationsSanta Clara based start-up Cohesity claims it will be able to drastically reduce the escalating costs of secondary storage.

The new Cohesity Data Platform achieves this, it reckons, by consolidating all the diverse backup, archive, testing, development and replication systems onto a single, scalable entity.

In response to feedback from early adopters, it has now added site-to-site replication, cloud archive, and hardware-accelerated, 256-bit encryption to version 2.0 of the Data Platform (DP).

The system tackles one of the by-products of the proliferation of cloud systems, the creation of fragmented data silos. These are the after effects of the rapid unstructured growth of IT which led to the adoption of endless varieties of individual systems for handling backup, file services, analytics and other secondary storage use cases. By unifying them, Cohesity claims it can cut the storage footprint of a data centre by 80%. It promises an immediate tangible return on investment by obviating the need for backup.

Among the time saving features that have been added to the system are automated virtual machine cloning for testing and development and a newly added public cloud archival tier. The latter gives enterprise users the option of spilling over their least-used data to Google Cloud Storage Nearline, Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3 and Glacier in order to cut costs. The Cohesity Data Platform 2.0 also provides ‘adaptive throttling of backup streams’, which minimises the burden that storage places on the production infrastructure.

“We manage data sprawl with a hyperconverged solution that uses flash, compute and policy-based quality of service,” said Cohesity CEO Mohit Aron.

Box, Dropbox and Egnyte offer cloud storage options for Office

Microsoft Office cloud storageMicrosoft has announced new co-authoring features for users of Office Mobile and Office Online who store their files with cloud services such as Box, Dropbox and Egnyte. Tighter integration with these services means that files can be worked on ‘natively’ as they reside in the cloud service, without users having to come out of their office application.

The new options come nearly a year after the Cloud Storage Partner Program (CSPP) was launched in February 2015, when Microsoft invited cloud storage providers to connect their services to Office Online and Office for iOS. “Today, we’re adding real-time co-authoring with Office Online for documents stored in partner cloud services, extending our Office for iOS integration to all partners in the CSPP and enabling integration between and cloud storage providers Dropbox and Box,” wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft’s corporate VP for the Office team.

Instant co-authoring with Office Online is now available for users with documents stored in Box, Citrix ShareFile, Dropbox and Egnyte. Koenigsbauer also invited all Microsoft’s CSPP partners to integrate their storage services with Office for iOS so that users can designate these partner cloud services as ‘places’ in Office, as is possible now with Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. The new changes mean that users can browse for PowerPoint, Word and Excel files on their preferred cloud service from within an Office app without having to interrupt their train of thought by coming out of the application.

Box is now used by 41 million consumers and 54,000 paying businesses, including 55% of the Fortune 500. Among the new features offered are real time co-authoring between Box and Office Online and the integration of Box with Office for iOS and Users can make concurrent, real time edits to content secured in Box including Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Box, an early member in the Cloud Storage Partner Program, has introduced a new application for Windows 10 and integrations with both Office for iPad and iPhone. DropBox and Egnyte both also announced real time co-authoring the ability to collaborate across Powerpoint, word and Excel using documents stored in the cloud.

Western Digital and IBM in distributed storage license agreement

StorageIBM and Western Digital have announced that they are entering into an intellectual property sharing arrangement, in the form of a formal patent cross-license agreement. Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

According to a statement on Western Digital’s website it has bought 100 patent assets from IBM, which relate to IBM inventions for distributed storage, object storage and emerging non-volatile memory. Western Digital said the intellectual property has been selected to be used in conjunction with its existing portfolio of 10,000 patents and patent applications.

Non-volatile memory is an emerging technology sector contested by Intel, Micron and HGST, with technologies such as 3D XPoint and Phase Change Memory. IBM demonstrated its own PCM device in May 2014.

IBM has led the annual list of U.S. patent recipients for 23 consecutive years. In 2015 it broke its record for the number of patents (7,355 patents) it applied for. Though it is developing new inventions across a diverse range of technology fronts, IBM has said that it is putting a strong emphasis on developing cognitive systems and cloud platforms as the company positions itself to try to regain leadership in a new era of computing.

The challenge IBM is undertaking is to find a way to help humans and machines connect across the cloud and collectively be more productive than they have ever been before, according to Thomas Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT.

This particular agreement is about making rapid advancement and monetising of new data storage solutions, according to Western Digital. “We are building on our long-standing relationship and look forward to future collaborations and business opportunities,” said Mike Cordano, chief operating officer for Western Digital.

Software defined storage and security drive cloud growth, say studies

Cloud securityData centre builders and cloud service developers are at loggerheads over their priorities, according to two new reports.

The explosive growth of modern data centres is being catalysed by new hyperconverged infrastructures and software defined storage, says one study. Meanwhile another claims that enthusiasm for cloud projects to run over this infrastructure is being suffocated by security fears.

A global study by ActualTech Media for Atlantis Computing suggests that a large majority of data centres are now using hyperconverged infrastructure (HCIS) and software defined storage (SDS) techniques in the race to built computing arenas. Of the 1,267 leaders quizzed in 53 countries, 71 per cent said they are using or considering HCIS and SDS to beef up their infrastructure. However, another study, conducted on behalf of hosting company Rackspace, found that security was the over riding concern among the parties who will use these facilities.

The Hyperconverged Infrastructure and Software-Defined Storage 2016 Survey proves there is much confusion and hype in these markets, according to Scott D. Lowe, a partner at ActualTech Media, who said there is not enough data about real-world usage available.

While 75 per cent of data centres surveyed use disk-based storage, only 44 per cent have long term plans for it in their infrastructure plans and 19 per cent will ditch it for HCIS or SDS. These decisions are motivated by the need for speed, convenience and money, according to the survey, with performance (72 per cent), high availability (68 per cent) and cost (68 per cent) as top requirements.

However, the developers of software seem to have a different set of priorities, according to the Anatomy of a Cloud Migration study conducted for Rackspace by market researcher Vanson Bourne. The verdict from this survey group – 500 business decision markers rather than technology builders – was that security will be the most important catalyst and can either speed or slow down cloud adoption.

Company security was the key consideration in the top three motives named by the survey group. The biggest identified threat the survey group wanted to eliminate was escalating IT costs, which 61 per cent of the group named. The next biggest threat they want to avert is downtime, with 50 per cent identifying a need for better resilience and disaster recovery from the cloud. Around a third (38 per cent) identified IT itself as a source of threats (such as viruses and denial of service) that they would want a cloud project to address.

“Cloud has long been associated with a loss of control over information,” said Rackspace’s Chief Security Officer Brian Kelly, “but businesses are now realising this is a misconception.”

Microsoft launches hybrid physical and cloud storage service

Hybrid CloudMicrosoft has announced new data storage products that it says will simplify management and cut costs in complex hybrid clouds.

The StorSimple Virtual Array and StorSimple 8000 Series Update 2 are designed to simplify the task of storing data across on-premise IT equipment and the cloud. The new additions to the StorSimple range are necessary because the range of enterprises using hybrid storage is widening, according to Microsoft.

In a beta testing exercise, aviation giant Textron claimed the new systems helped it save a million dollars a month, while car maker Mazda claimed the StorSimple additions helped it lower its overall costs by 95%.

The StorSimple Virtual Array creates a hybrid cloud storage system using a virtual machine running on Hyper-V or VMware hypervisors and can work with either a Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Storage Area Network (SAN). It integrates primary storage, data protection, archiving and disaster recovery duties into one easy system for small environments with minimal IT infrastructure and management. The addition of the StorSimple Virtual Array means users don’t need to centralize data protection and disaster recovery at the company’s main data centre but can have a simple and upgradeable system they can manage themselves with StorSimple Manager.

Meanwhile the StorSimple 8000 Series Update 2 introduces local volumes and a new high performance StorSimple Cloud Appliance. Local volumes allow the client to use primary storage without the data being tiered to Azure. This gets better performance from applications that cannot tolerate cloud latencies. A local volume is apt for on-premises workloads that have high Input-Output requirements, such as SQL Server. It’s also better for Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. These additions don’t stop customers from being able to use Azure for data protection and location independent disaster recovery, the vendor says.

Enterprises can now adopt a hybrid storage strategy based with StorSimple, said Mike Neil, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Cloud and Enterprise. “It will transform their businesses by cutting costs, simplifying IT and helping increase IT agility in support of business goals,” he said.