Cloud computing ready to take hold

In the past two decades, the cloud and the IT service provider model struggled to gain traction primarily due to cost. Some key technologies, which could have offset that problem, did not yet exist.  Today, these elements are readily available and include:

  • Virtualization
  • Data deduplication
  • Continuous data protection
  • Advanced encryption

Back in the 90's, physical servers were required to provide applications with compute resources, and those servers typically could not be used to simultaneously support multiple applications. The same was true for storage. Although the adoption of storage area networks (SAN) provided the ability to share disk resources across many servers, there was no way to move or replicate data across unlike vendor disks. The cost structure was way too high, and the providers far too leveraged.

If a client wanted the software as a service (SaaS) provider to protect or backup their data in the cloud, the provider needed to buy similar equipment for their own data center. The cost structure was way too high, and the providers far too leveraged. Now, there are other options.

Virtualization solves these issues by providing an abstraction layer between physical components and the logical resources they provide. Server virtualization enables organizations to run an application on a virtual server without regard to which vendor provided the physical server, which in essence makes server hardware a commodity. Applications can be run or moved across physical servers from different vendors at will. Storage virtualization provides the same function for storage resources by abstracting the physical compute elements from data storage.

Data deduplication is another technology that removes the physical limitations of moving massive amounts of data between locations and stores massive amounts of data on limited storage resources. Data deduplication can eliminate the need to move or store up to 97 percent of typical structured and unstructured data.

Continuous data protection removes the burdensome process of traditional backup operations that impact applications and require time, bandwidth and tons of storage to copy the data from production storage to backup media. CDP can vastly improve service levels and access to data to assure data is always available and recoverable.

Advanced encryption provides the final piece of the puzzle by enabling secure data movement and access. Data must be encrypted in flight and at rest to ensure policy-based access to data resources can be enforced and to meet regulatory and Department of Defense guidelines.  

Together, these key technologies provide a much-improved cost structure for the infrastructure required to provision, protect, replicate and recover applications and their associated data via the cloud.

Christopher Poelker is the author of Storage Area Networks for Dummies,  the vice president of enterprise solutions at FalconStor Software, and deputy commissioner of the TechAmerica Foundation Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD²).

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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