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Performance, Cost and Reliability
Through Hybrid Cloud Storage
Hybrid cloud storage is an approach to managing storage
that uses both local and off-site resources. Hybrid cloud
storage is often used to supplement internal storage with
public cloud storage. Policy engines keep frequently used
data on-site while simultaneously moving inactive data to
the cloud in a transparent manner.
Ideally, a hybrid cloud implementation behaves as if it is
homogeneous storage. Hybrid cloud storage is most often
implemented by using proprietary commercial storage
software, by using a cloud storage appliance that serves as
a gateway between on-premise and public cloud storage or
by using an application program interface (API) to access
the cloud storage.
A hybrid cloud storage solution, acts as an intermediary that
maintains a super set of your data that is within the primary
storage of the organization. It is implemented either through
software specialized for the same or through storage
appliances that act as a gateway between the primary
storage (within the organization) and the public cloud
storage. This gateway environment is helpful in syncing the
relevant data to the cloud based on the policies defined for
A Hybrid Cloud Storage solution strategy by integrating local
storage with cloud models can dramatically change the
performance, cost and reliability parameters. But some
concerns and considerations are to be carefully examined
before CIOs take the plunge.
Hybrid cloud storage can behave
a) as local storage
b) as a remote file server
c) an FTP server
Head - Business Development,
Cloud Services and Strategy, Netmagic Solutions
Performance, Cost and Reliability Through Hybrid Cloud Storage
latency within their storage products. Clearly, latency is
application dependent, but it is impractical to deliver files
across the Internet without local caching hardware. The
ability to deliver block-based storage will therefore be highly
dependent on the capabilities of the local caching device.
Performance, Cost and Reliability - the
such data and at the same time can help in encrypting the
data that is to be synced with public cloud storage.
Technology Behind Hybrid Cloud Storage
Cloud-integrated storage (CiS) or Hybrid cloud storage is a
full-featured on-premises storage system that integrates
with the cloud. Organizations can create a hybrid model or
architecture by storing their data locally and then protecting
it with snapshots on-premise and in the cloud. Here, the
dormant or less frequently used data can automatically and
seamlessly be tiered to the cloud, thus ensuring adequate
space locally for new data.
Typically, the technologies that are put in use for hybrid
cloud storage are storage appliance based. These
appliances provide for a mechanism to incorporate the
policies and encryption algorithm to encrypt the data while
on transit. These appliances act as a super-set environment
and are also responsible for syncing the data between them
and cloud storage. The type of storage within the
organization and the cloud environment need not be the
same, and optimal storage environment on the public cloud
ensures a cost-effective hybrid cloud storage option.
Applications can be broadly classified as file-system
dependent applications and block-device dependent
applications. For e.g. file-based workloads will typically be
NFS or CIFS data from end users. This includes Microsoft
Office products and other local applications on user file
shares. This data typically consists of large reads and writes,
with files ranging in size from a few kilobytes to megabytes.
I/O response time for user data is less critical than for blockbased workloads, and it is unlikely the end users will notice
an additional few milliseconds delay in accessing their data.
However, when organizations use NFS and CIFS for
production workloads, it may create a different (and more
demanding) I/O workload profile. A good example of this is
the use of NFS for server virtualization.
Block-based workloads are more complex. Latency - the
time taken to complete an I/O request - is a key factor in the
performance of block-based storage. Storage vendors have
worked hard to reduce and improve the consistency of
Performance: Whether they supply physical appliances or
not, hybrid cloud storage vendors do not quote specific
IOPS capabilities of their equipment. Even with dedicated
hardware in place, local performance capabilities are difficult
to predict because the ratio of local and cloud-based data is
not always known.
Cost: Hybrid Cloud Storage solution tends to bring in
tremendous cost reduction though the point of costcalculation may determine the overall cost benefit.
When organizations are required to extend their existing
capacity, they can look at implementing Hybrid Storage
Cloud solution. A hybrid cloud storage solution can bring
down the costs in such a scenario drastically and get much
better capacity storage in the cloud with the same amount
that is being invested on expanding the existing storage .
Similarly, backups and other non-trivial data can be moved
over to hybrid cloud storage solution. This too can bring in
Simply put, the cost reduction can be expected based on
specific business tipping points and not in all situations.
Reliability: Data travelling between a cloud storage provider
and the host needs to be moved reliably. Reliable delivery
means ensuring data transfers are completed successfully
and acknowledgements received in the correct order.
In local storage, the protocols used ensure reliable delivery
of data, but these cannot be used for transport to and from
the cloud. Within the data center, Fibre Channel, iSCSI and
NFS/CIFS are dominant, but they are not suited to longdistance operation. Fibre Channel is a non-routed protocol,
so it relies on IP for routing over disparate networks or
requires dark fibre or other dedicated expensive
connections. CIFS and NFS are both "chatty" protocols in
that they require a large management overhead; CIFS, for
example, requires confirmation of each block of data
transferred before transferring the next. Where a network
has large latency issues, performance with CIFS can be
Appliances provide standard protocol support within the
client data center, including NAS protocols (CIFS and NFS)
and block protocols such as iSCSI. But, these are difficult or
impossible to use for data to and from the cloud.
Performance, Cost and Reliability Through Hybrid Cloud Storage
Therefore, appliances convert local protocol instructions to
Web-based APIs such as Representational State Transfer
(REST), which use simplified I/O commands that perform
read, write and delete of data stored as objects. In addition,
data integrity is maintained by storing metadata containing
write time stamps with the content itself. The time stamps
allow data to be reconstructed in the correct order in the
event of a failure.
storage setups can bring in some level of complexities - for
instance, these software-based gateways limit data at 1TB
per stored volumes, thus needing to have more gateways
per virtual machines depending on various applications.
Also, lack of integration with backup software further adds
to the limitations of hybrid cloud solution - though various
vendors are working on this and are at different levels of
Addressing Security Concerns
Most of the hybrid storage cloud solutions provide security
at multiple levels.
Firstly, secure access to cloud storage provider, based
on Cloud Service Providers' authentication mechanism.
Secondly, it encrypts data in transit across the network
using protocols such as SSL/ TLS.
Thirdly, it also protects data at rest within the cloud
provider's storage environment. Therefore hybrid cloud
storage solution provides security across all layers of
Key Considerations and Steps to Start on the
Hybrid Storage Journey
There are many ways to start on the Hybrid Cloud Storage
journey, and many starting points exist. But it is essential to
build a strong foundation to reap maximum benefits from the
strategy. An ideal way to start would be as illustrated below:
Some Limitations Exists
Ideally hybrid cloud storage solutions are better suited for
file-system based environments. The limitations on these
environments tend to be bandwidth limitations and Internet
connection outages. But in such circumstances the solution
can be delivered to be resilient so that they do not impact
hybrid cloud storage solution.
At the same time, to adopt hybrid cloud storage solution for
block-data based application-data tends to add to the
limitations such as latency and I/O issues of the Cloud
Service Provider, and should be treaded cautiously for such
The next issue is complexity. Even at a moderate degree of
scale that a hybrid cloud storage solution can bring, it adds
complexity of storage infrastructure. Use of software-based
gateways that bridges data between the cloud and local
Business use-case of hybrid cloud
Identify the right set of application and data that can
leverage the hybrid cloud storage solution in an optimal
Detail out the cost implication of expanding in-house
storage vis-à-vis Hybrid Cloud Storage
Pilot the solution and define clear data SLA requirements
CIOs should carefully examine the reliability and
performance of various approaches to a hybrid cloud
storage strategy. As you migrate traditional storage
infrastructure to integrate with the cloud to make it hybrid
cloud storage, it is essential to keep a close watch on
performance, data protection and cost of the overall project.
It would be interesting to know at what stage of the cloud
journey you are, and at what point you will be looking at the
storage strategy to integrate.
Write in to have a detailed discussion on various methods,
architectures, considerations that one needs to look at - and
it will be insightful to know your journey too.
About Netmagic Solutions (An NTT Communications Company)
Netmagic, an NTT Communications company, is India’s leading Managed Hosting and Cloud Service Provider, with 8 carrierneutral, state-of-the-art datacenters across the country. Established in 1998, Netmagic has been a pioneer in the Indian IT
Infrastructure services space as it was the ﬁrst to launch services such as cloud computing, managed security, Disaster
Recovery-as-a-Service and software-deﬁned storage. An IT Infrastructure Partner to more than 1400 enterprises globally,
Netmagic, also delivers Remote Infrastructure Management services to NTT Communications’ customers across Americas,
Europe and Asia-Paciﬁc region. Netmagic is the recipient of several industry accolades and was recently chosen by India’s CIO
community as the best service provider of Datacenter Managed Services and Cloud services, at the CIO Choice 2015 Awards.
NTT Communications has subsidiaries and ofﬁces in 43 countries / regions, with over 21,600 employees worldwide. It had total
operating revenues of 1230bilion JPY for year ending March 31, 2014 and has infrastructure worldwide, including leading global
tier-1 IP network, the Arcstar Universal One™ VPN network reaching 196 countries/regions, and 130 secure datacenters.
NTT Communications is a part of NTT Corporation, Japan – one of world’s largest telecommunications companies and ranked
53 on Fortune Global 500 list (2014).
For further details please log into www.netmagicsolutions.com | Twitter: @netmagic | LinkedIn: @Netmagic Solutions
About NTT Communications Corporation
NTT Communications provides consultancy, architecture, security and cloud services to optimize the information and
communications technology (ICT) environments of enterprises. These offerings are backed by the company’s worldwide
infrastructure, including leading global tier-1 IP network, Arcstar Universal One™ VPN network reaching 196 countries/regions,
and over 150 secure data centers. NTT Communications’ solutions leverage the global resources of NTT Group companies
including Dimension Data, NTT DOCOMO and NTT DATA
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