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Base enterprise hybrid cloud evaluation on security, cost

Explosive data growth has organizations looking at hybrid cloud storage to meet their capacity needs. But cloud costs and security issues need to be addressed.

Organizations of all sizes face an unprecedented rate of growth in their unstructured data sets. The rate of growth and consumed capacity is driven primarily by the rapid deployment of Internet of Things devices that capture and transmit data.

Many small enterprises are looking to the public cloud to help them keep up with this explosive growth. While their unique needs and cost realities require small organizations to look at the cloud differently than their larger counterparts, an enterprise hybrid cloud approach may be the way to go.

An enterprise hybrid cloud maintains a portion of the capacity on premises in the data center and a portion in a public cloud storage facility. Typically, an on-premises offering keeps the most active data close, mitigating the latency inherent in public cloud storage. In this model, the on-premises appliance is essentially a cache, holding a copy of the dynamic data. When the data becomes dormant, the public cloud eventually stores all the data.

All, nothing or something in between?

The advantage of keeping all of an organization's data with a public cloud provider is a lower cost to manage, power and cool the storage systems that store the data. However, there are two disadvantages:

While costs and capacity management motivate enterprise hybrid cloud decisions, security may override capacity concerns.
  1. Security: While cloud providers have greatly enhanced their abilities to secure data, it is still not as secure as a properly implemented security procedure that only focuses on one company. Even encrypted public cloud storage, given the disclosures of government enforced backdoors, is vulnerable.
  2. Cost: While the upfront cost of 100 TB of cloud storage sounds attractive, repeatedly paying for that space and more as the enterprise grows can get expensive. Given the cumulative cost of a large amount of cloud capacity that is retained for an extended period, organizations may reach a point where it becomes less expensive to bring the service back in-house.

Large organizations need to consider these disadvantages before implementing an enterprise hybrid cloud storage strategy. But public cloud storage is more of an in-between scenario for firms of this size. They should leverage a private cloud storage system on premises that can integrate with the public cloud, using it as a spill-over or to cache data to cloud compute servers, but they should not consider it as a permanent storage location.

Most small organizations have a tighter budget and staffing restraints. The upfront cost and operational efficiencies of a public cloud storage provider are hard to ignore. As a result, most small companies should embrace a hybrid model that places most of their unstructured data in the cloud, but they should carefully monitor its usage. If the organization continues to grow, it should consider bringing the cloud storage offering in-house to eliminate recurring costs.

Security override

While costs and capacity management motivate enterprise hybrid cloud decisions, security may override capacity concerns. An on-premises-only offering may better serve the organization if the data collected by sensors or stored by humans is sensitive or regulated. The organization should still borrow cloud storage concepts and use object storage software that leverages commodity hardware to keep costs and time spent operating the infrastructure to a minimum.

The use of hybrid cloud storage is likely a given for most organizations. The size of the organization, and specifically its capacity requirements, will determine which side of the hybrid environment will store most of the data. Most environments should plan on a private cloud storage system, driven by object storage software to host the bulk of the data and only use the public cloud for limited use cases.

Next Steps

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When enterprise hybrid clouds aren't the right answer

Getting started with a hybrid cloud model in your environment

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