by December 1, 2011 0 comments

How are we going to store and manage the huge data that is piling up every second, with our little actions? The data, both machine generated structured and human generated unstructured, needs data centers that take up less physical space, consume less power and keep our data secure. In the current scenario, 65% of data center costs are spent on storage. The idea is to identify and utilise unstructured data. Also, storing large data consumes immense power, therefore it is essential to switch to eco-friendly modes of storage.

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Cloud as a storage solution will outshine the rest

Cloud storage is an off-site remote storage concept where data is maintained by a third party and Internet works as the connection between your computer and the database. It is evolving rapidly with the widespread adoption of virtualisation, automation, and utility computing. Users can expand capacity without limit, by contacting the provider, which typically operates a highly scalable storage infrastructure, in physically discrete locations. Using cloud storage can increase efficiency, cut costs and reduce complexity.

However, moving into clouds doesn’t mean all problems would end, but to make the most of this opportunity, the investors have to be sure of certain issues. Such as moving to a cloud model should start with common apps, namely email, social networking, web servers etc. Moving to cloud also ensures that maintenance, which was earlier the client company’s concern, is now managed by host company’s data server operators. Now, a client company can focus on its day-to-day business operations without having to worry about storage management.

Distributed approach to data storage to take place in the coming year

Open-source software has provided the foundation for many cloud computing implementations. One prominent example being the Hadoop framework created to process huge data. Google started MapReduce in 2004, which was re-implemented by Yahoo as an Open Source project Hadoop in 2007, for indexing data. MapReduce is a software framework introduced by Google that supports distributed computing on large data sets on clusters of computers. Gradually, Hadoop has emerged with the ability to process huge amounts of distributed data. Hadoop is useful, but there are other technologies as well, such as Splunk that allow you to explore big data in a more interactive manner than most Hadoop implementations.

Enterprise level cloud computing will look upto OpenStack for scaling data

OpenStack is a collaborative software project designed to create freely available code, badly needed standards, and a common ground for the benefit of both cloud providers and customers. It is a set of technologies for sharing data across multiple containers and platforms. Founded by Rackspace Hosting and NASA, it has grown to be a global software community of developers collaborating on a standard and massively scalable open source cloud operating system with the aim to enable users to create and offer cloud computing services running on standard hardware.

OpenStack is currently developing three interrelated projects: OpenStack Compute, OpenStack Object Storage, Open Stack image. OpenStack Compute is meant to provision and manage large groups of virtual private servers; OpenStack Object Storage is used for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store terabytes of data; while OpenStack Image provides discovery, registration, and delivery services for virtual disk images.

With Open source one isn’t tied to a proprietary vendor, and can integrate with third-party technologies to meet business needs. Also, it is compatible with public OpenStack clouds and is well connected making migration easy for data and applications to public clouds anytime. More than 60 leading companies, such as Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel and Microsoft from over a dozen countries are participating in OpenStack, OpenStack can have a significant impact on building cloud computing infrastructure. It gives an alternative to Amazon API and VMware’s vCloud. All the code for OpenStack is freely available under the Apache 2.0 license.

Virtualisation will emerge as a facilitator for Cloud Storage

Virtualisation is the hottest trend in storage. Virtualisation allows storage of data on cloud by optimising them into new media files, which can be moved to eventually to economical media formats after further optimisation. Categorising data storage and archiving them can further cut costs. Such categorisation is popularly known as tier-based storage, where data is classified into three different storage media, to reduce storage costs, based on levels of protection needed, performance requirements, frequency of use, etc. Since it is an unending process, software for automatic management becomes crucial.

Tier I data is stored on expensive and high-quality media such as double-parity RAIDs; Tier II data representing occasionally used data is stored on less expensive media or SANs; Tier III includes event-driven or unclassified files on recordable CDs or tapes. Virtualisation will rid us of our dependence on storage hardware. Also, virtualisation of assets requires separation of data from native apps and converting them into a universal language.

Virtualisation is classified into two parts: Block and File Virtualisation. The former separates logical storage from physical storage so that it can be accessed without physical storage, allowing admins greater flexibility in managing storage for customers. Meanwhile, the latter eliminates the dependence between the data accessed at the file level and the physical location of files, optimising storage use and server consolidation, and non-disruptive file relocations.

Their key benefit is the ability to migrate data while maintaining concurrent I/O access. The host only knows about the logical disk and so any changes to the meta-data mapping is obvious to the host. It allows data migration without affecting the client operation. This can be done by updating the meta data pointing out the new location, after data migration. It will also help us by increasing utilisation of assets, shifting the focus of storage on software instead of hardware. Virtualisation is the future of storage as cloud storage is not possible without it. The entire banking sector is moving to virtualisation.

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