AI and IoT is driving demand for edge storage as data is being created faster than it can be reasonably moved across clouds, object storage vendor Cloudian’s CEO said.
Cloudian CEO Michael Tsosaid “Cloud 2.0” is giving rise to the growing importance of edge storage among other storage trends. He said customers are getting smarter about how they use the cloud, and that’s leading to growing demand for products that can support private and hybrid clouds. He also detects an increased demand for resiliency against ransomware attacks.
We spoke with Tso about these trends, including theEdgematrixsubsidiary Cloudian launched in September 2019 that focuses on AI use cases at the edge. Tso said we can expect more demand for edge storage and spoke about an upcoming Cloudian product related to this. He also talked about how AI relates to object storage, and if Cloudian is preparing other Edgematrix-like spinoffs.
What do you think storage customers are most concerned with now? Michael Tso: I think there is a lot, but I’ll just concentrate on two things here. One is that they continue to just need lower-cost, easier to manage and highly scalable solutions. That’s why people are shifting to cloud and looking at either public or hybrid/private.
Related to that point is I think we’re seeing a Cloud 2.0, where a lot of companies now realize the public cloud is not the be-all, end-all and it’s not going to solve all their problems. They look at a combination of cloud-native technologies and use the different tools available wisely.
I think there’s the broad brush of people needing scalable solutions and lower costs — and that will probably always be there — but the undertone is people getting smarter about private and hybrid.
Point number two is around data protection. We’re now seeing more and more customers worried about ransomware. They’re keeping backups for longer and longer and there is a strong need for write-once compliant storage. They want to be assured that any ransomware that is attacking the system cannot go back in time and mess up the data that was stored from before.
Cloudian actually invested very heavily in building write-once compliant technologies, primarily for financial and the military market because that was where we were seeing it first. Now it’s become a feature that almost everyone we talked to that is doing data protection is asking for.
People are getting smarter about hybrid and multi-cloud, but what’s the next big hurdle to implementing it?
Tso: I think as people are now thinking about a post-cloud world, one of the problems that large enterprises are coming up with is data migration. It’s not easy to add another cloud when you’re fully in one. I think if there’s any kind of innovation in being able to off-load a lot of data between clouds, that will really free up that marketplace and allow it to be more efficient and fluid.
Right now, cloud is a bunch of silos. Whatever data people have stored in cloud one is kind of what they’re stuck with, because it will take them a lot of money to move data out to cloud two, and it’s going to take them years. So, they’re kind of building strategies around that as opposed to really, truly being flexible in terms of where they keep data.
What are you seeing on the edge?
Tso: We’re continuing to see more and more data being created at the edge, and more and more use cases of the data needing to be stored close to the edge because it’s just too big to move. One classic use case is IoT. Sensors, cameras — that sort of stuff. We already have a number of large customers in the area and we’re continuing to grow in that area.
The edge can mean a lot of different things. Unfortunately, a lot of people are starting to hijack that word and make it mean whatever they want it to mean. But what we see is just more and more data popping up in all kinds of locations, with the need of having low-cost, scalable and hybrid-capable storage.
We’re working on getting a ruggedized, easy-to-deploy cloud storage solution. What we learned from Edgematrix was that there’s a lot of value to having a ruggedized edge AI device. But the unit we’re working on is going to be more like a shipping container or a truck as opposed to a little box like with Edgematrix.
What customers would need a mobile cloud storage device like you just described?
Tso: There are two distinct use cases here. One is that you want a cloud on the go, meaning it is self-contained. It means if the rest of the infrastructure around you has been destroyed, or your internet connectivity has been destroyed, you are still able to do everything you could do with the cloud. The intention is a completely isolatable cloud.
In the military application, it’s very straightforward. You always want to make sure that if the enemy is attacking your communication lines and shooting down satellites, wherever you are in the field, you need to have the same capability that you have during peak time.
But the civilian market, especially in global disaster, is another area that we are seeing demand. It’s state and local governments asking for it. In the event of a major disaster, oftentimes for a period, they don’t have any access to the internet. So the idea is to run in a cloud in a ruggedized unit that is completely stand-alone until connectivity is restored.
AI-focused Edgematrix started as a Cloudian idea. What does AI have to do with object storage? Tso: AI is an infinite data consumer. Improvements on AI accuracy is a log scale — it’s an exponential scale in terms of the amount of data that you need for the additional improvements in accuracy. So, a lot of the reasons why people are accumulating all this data is to run their AI tools and run AI analysis. It’s part of the reason why people are keeping all their data.
Being S3 object store compatible is a really big deal because that allows us to plug into all of the modern AI workloads. They’re all built on top of cloud-native infrastructure, and what Cloudian provides is the ability to run those workloads wherever the data happens to be stored, and not have to move the data to another location.
Are you planning other Edgematrix-like spinoffs? Tso: Not in the immediate future. We’re extremely pleased with the way Edgematrix worked out, and we certainly are open to do more of this kind of spin off.
We’re not a small company anymore, and one of the hardest things for startups in our growth stage is balancing creativity and innovation with growing the core business. We seem to have found a good sort of balance, but it’s not something that we want to do in volume because it’s a lot of work.
Escalating cybersecurity threats and a shortage of in-house talent are driving double-digit growth rates in the managed security services and professional security services market.
Market research firm Frost & Sullivan expects the global market to expand from $21 billion in 2018 to $35.6 billion in 2023, growing at a 11.1% compound annual growth rate. The top five providers are already experiencing even higher growth. Accenture, Deloitte, EY, IBM and PwC — a group which accounts for 42% of the global market — grew 27.6% year-over-year in 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The market researcher’s report cited an “overdue need for a new chapter in security practices” along with rising risk levels and staffing limitations as the main factors propelling the demand for managed and professional security services. Digital transformation and customers’ heightened recognition of cyberthreats also contribute to increasing demand.
High growth services
Detection and response are the fastest growing offerings in the managed security services market, followed by DDoS protection and threat intelligence, research, detection and mitigation (TIRDM), noted Jarad Carleton, global program leader of cybersecurity information and communication technologies at Frost & Sullivan.
“We are noticing a strong demand across several areas in the managed security services space from our clients globally,” said Harpreet Sidhu, managing director and managed security services lead at Accenture. “One of those areas is definitely for detection and response as companies seek to add next-generation solutions to their security capabilities.”
Sidhu said managed detection and response (MDR) capabilities include security automation and orchestration and come with predefined playbooks. MDR, which uses technology to scale, “can help drive significantly faster analysis and improved responses,” he noted.
Chris Gerritz, chief product officer at Infocyte, a cybersecurity incident response platform provider in Austin, Texas, said detection and incident response is becoming more important for managed security services providers (MSSPs), which traditionally have focused on network monitoring.
“Generally, they are starting to add on endpoint capabilities and starting to add on response capabilities,” he said.
Gerritz said customers are telling MSSPs “I don’t want just 100 notifications that I have been attacked. I want you to actually do something about that.”
Infocyte this week launched its Response Ready program for its certified incident response partners. The program aims to help those partners scale up their incident response businesses and boost recurring revenue.
Assessment and advisory offerings, meanwhile, stand out in the professional security services market segment, according to the Frost & Sullivan report. Professional security services represent the biggest slice of the security services market, overall, with a 61% share.
Sidhu said Accenture is seeing consulting and professional services demand across several areas such as identity, cloud, cyber defense and application security, along with strong demand for assessment of those capabilities.
Breaking into the market
The market’s five largest players are generating considerable revenue growth, which Frost & Sullivan attributes to “their massive size, global reach, consultative strength, industry expertise, and established relationships with large enterprises and government agencies.”
Yet, smaller service providers also have the potential to grow — with a few caveats. Managed service providers are looking to add security services as more customers expect them to provide protection from cyberattacks.
Jarad CarletonGlobal program leader, cybersecurity information and communication technologies, Frost & Sullivan
“The key for MSPs trying to break into the MSSP market is providing right-sized security services for small- and medium- sized enterprises,” Carleton said.
Regional MSSPs, as well as MSPs offering security services, will find demand for security services among regionally-focused SMBs, he noted.
“What we have seen is that far too many MSPs are promising more than they can actually deliver in terms of managed security services, and that is damaging to the industry,” Carleton said. “What is even more damaging to MSPs trying to break into the MSSP market is that MSPs themselves have become targets of cybercriminals. If you cannot manage your own security, frankly you have no business selling managed security services to a customer.”
HCL unveils Google Cloud unit
HCL Technologies, a global technology company based in Noida, India, has launched a Google Cloud business unit, which will eventually house more than 5,000 Google Cloud specialists.
HCL currently has more than 1,300 Google Cloud platform professionals. The company’s Google initiative targets a range of fields, from containerization to machine learning. The HCL business unit will also build Google Cloud-specific Cloud Native Labs in Dallas, London and in India’s national capital region.
Google and HCL said joint investments to support customers’ digital transformation projects will cover several areas:
SAP workload and application migration to Google Cloud Platform. In August, Google launched a partnership with DXC Technology that also focuses on enterprise migration of SAP applications to public cloud.
Hybrid and multi-cloud deployments using Google Cloud’s Anthos. Google partners cited Anthos as a business opportunity and one of the key developments during Google’s Next ’19 conference.
Adoption of Google Cloud data, AI and machine learning offerings in areas such as e-commerce, supply chain and marketing.
Application and data center modernization.
Workplace transformation and collaboration via G Suite.
DevSecOps and service orchestration.
Tech Data buys government channel partner DLT Solutions
Tech Data has agreed to purchase DLT Solutions, a Herndon, Va., company that aggregates technology for public sector clients and channel partners.
The deal, expected to close by Jan. 31, would make DLT a wholly owned subsidiary of Tech Data, a distributor based in Clearwater, Fla. DLT’s government contract vehicles include the General Services Administration Schedule 70, the Defense Department’s Enterprise Software Initiative, The National Institutes of Health’s Chief Information Officers — Commodities and Solutions and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement V.
DLT had been a Millstein & Co. portfolio company. The private equity firm acquired DLT in 2015. TZP Group owned DLT prior to that deal, having acquired the company in 2009.
The DLT transaction will expand Tech Data’s value proposition, “especially in government solutions,” according to a bulletin from Martinwolf, a merger and acquisition advisory firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Martinwolf advised DLT on the TZP deal and then advised TZP on the Millstein acquisition.
Evercore, an M&A advisory firm based in New York, is representing DLT on the Tech Data deal.
Axcient launches X360 backup platform
Data protection company Axcient unveiled Axcient X360, a converged backup platform for MSPs.
The Axcient X360 platform offers single sign-on and centralized management of Office 365 backup, sync and share, and business continuity and disaster recovery. The platform also provides unlimited storage and retention and supporting services such as billing, training and certification, co-branded collateral and market development funds, the company said.
David Bennett, CEO of Axcient, speaking with SearchITChannel at MSP software vendor ConnectWise’s IT Nation conference, said the platform is designed to ease the backup burdens of MSPs. “Anything that puts a burden on an MSP’s business in terms of people and time is costly,” he said.
Bennett said Axcient X360 aims to be easy to learn, to the extent an MSP’s tier-1 technician could quickly train and operate the platform.
The X360 platform also documents backups for customers in regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services, Bennett added.
Axcient currently works with about 3,000 MSPs and integrates with ConnectWise.
Cloud distributor Pax8 inked a deal with Nerdio, an Azure solution provider for MSPs. Under the agreement, Pax8 will offer Nerdio for Azure in three packages: Core, Professional and Enterprise.
Intermedia, a cloud communications provider, joined ConnectWise’s Invent partner program for integrating with the ConnectWise MSP platform.
Webroot said ConnectWise partners can buy licenses for its security awareness training offering at 50% off from Oct. 30 to Nov. 30. The offer is available only through ConnectWise and to partners that are not currently purchasing Webroot’s security awareness training.
MSP360, formerly CloudBerry Lab, said MSP interest in its multi-cloud data backup and recovery portfolio helped boost Q3 revenue 60% over the same period last year.
Synechron Inc., a digital consulting firm based in New York, launched Digital Ecosystem Accelerators for the financial sector. The company described the accelerators as “solution prototypes” targeting such fields as retail banking, wealth management, corporate banking and capital markets.
Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.
Increasingly startups have been playing a crucial role in bringing autonomous driving technology to the world. From building full-stack autonomy solutions for OEMs to opening up new business opportunities in areas like delivery, ride-sharing and long haul transit, startups have been at the forefront of technological advancement in this space. Startups also play a critical role in delivering important AD enablement technologies and solutions like simulation, data management, labeling and more.
The MfS-AD program is another example of our continuing commitment to the AD startup community. We want to empower pioneering startups who are defining what is next in autonomous driving by helping them scale up and scale out through business and technical enablement. As part of the program, all selected startups will receive the premium offer from our Microsoft for Startups program including access to up to $120,000 USD of free Azure cloud.
For technical enablement, startups will receive benefits like:
Access to our top engineers and program managers working on autonomous driving infrastructure technology and solutions.
1:1 architectural sessions with Microsoft Cloud Engineers.
Early access to autonomous driving capabilities on Azure.
Potential co-development opportunities.
For business enablement, startups will receive benefits like:
Opportunities to expand your network by becoming a part of Microsoft’s autonomous driving ecosystem. Many of our partners have found their next big customer or partner at one of our automotive networking receptions and other events.
Joint customer opportunities.
Marketing and amplification support.
Preferred showcase opportunities at industry events and conferences.
Visibility to M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) for potential investment opportunities.
In Forza Horizon 4, Seasons change everything where players must master driving in dry, wet, muddy, snowy and icy conditions. A first for the racing genre and rarely seen in any open-world game, dynamic seasons create a world that is constantly evolving each week and with more than 450 cars, novices and veterans alike can explore the beautiful open world of Britain filled with unique and challenging driving experiences.
While Forza Horizon 4’s deep upgrade system can optimize any car for any season, it’s always best to think about the right car choice for each weather condition, whether you need to adjust your suspension and how you need to change your driving style depending on the terrain. Luckily, we have some tips and tricks on how best to tackle each season and what to expect, sourced by Turn 10 Studios’ Design Director Jon Knoles.
Under a high, mid-day summer sun, conditions are perfect for putting the pedal to the metal on Britain’s fastest motorways or ripping along the golden sands of the northern coast past the brooding Bamburgh Castle. You may encounter the occasional summer rain, but most of the time you’ll find dry weather.
If you take a shortcut through fields, you’ll easily plow through tall grasses and flowers. Don’t worry about wood and wire fences, small trees, or stacked drystone walls. Whatever you’re driving, if you’re going fast enough they’ll break without breaking your car. Smaller, lighter cars will slow down considerably more than larger, heavier vehicles when you plow through these obstacles.
When Horizon summer arrives, as with all seasons, keep an eye out for seasonal gameplay events, challenges, and rewards, which expire at the end of the season. You may find summer events often take advantage of the perfect driving conditions to feature faster cars on faster, paved roads.
Whether you call it autumn or fall, it’s perhaps the most beautiful and most colorful season to explore the tree-lined, winding roads of Britain’s Lake Country in the world’s greatest road cars, or to tackle the 4×4 Adventure Park’s muddy playground for off-roaders.
It’s after harvest, so fields that were full of tall grasses in summer are now plowed and full of soft or muddy earth that will slow you down a bit, and are peppered with new obstacles in the form of big and heavy bales of hay, which will definitely slow you down if you hit them. It will rain in autumn more than in summer and roads do become a bit slicker in the wet, so you’ll be wanting to plan a little earlier for hard turns.
When autumn arrives, keep an eye out for a seasonal barn find car—each season reveals a classic to discover and restore, but you’ll want to find it before the season changes again.
With the low sun shimmering through bare trees across a frosty landscape, you might be worried that you’ll be sliding all over the place. Don’t worry, all tires are good for all seasons, and will be enough to keep you on the roads if you remember to brake—and turn—for curves. If you want more grip on the snow and ice, you can equip your car with studded winter tires in the upgrade shop, and any car that was already equipped with off-road or rally tires will automatically switch to studded tires.
The weather may range from clear to light flurries, or the occasional blizzard. Higher elevations in the north will have more deep snow than lowland areas in the south. Coastal beaches are still sandy, and motorways, the city streets of historic Edinburgh, and other major roads are cleared of ice and snow. In winter, you can reach previously inaccessible areas to search for bonus boards to smash or barn find cars, such as on an island in the middle of a deep lake. And when you’re on the frozen lake, it doesn’t matter what you’re driving or what kind of tires you have, you will slide around a lot, which itself is a lot of fun.
Keep an eye out for snowmen, too. Smashing them is fun, and it will net you combo skill points. Seasonal events are sure to test your mettle on the slippery ice, but rest assured there are still clear roads to conquer.
After a cold winter, the British landscape bursts to life once again in vibrant color, and one thing you can be sure of is a lot more rain, but you’ll also get a lot of sun. Or as they say in much of Britain in the spring, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.”
Of all the seasons, spring is probably the one with the most varied conditions throughout. Previously dry or shallow riverbeds become deep, rushing streams, which may bring low-slung supercars and lightweight cars to a crawl, but don’t pose much of a challenge for off-road vehicles such as SUVs, trophy trucks, and buggies. If you happen to climb to a mountain peak in the north, you’ll still find pockets of snow to play around in.
As with autumn, spring events may bring a more rally-heavy theme with mixed-surface races to suit the varied conditions. Whether it’s in a sturdy new Subaru WRX Sti, or a classic Group B rally monster from the 80s, you’ll be sure to discover some trail-blazing events in cars built to tackle all the tarmac, gravel, and mud that you’ll get plenty of in spring.
From environmental sustainability, protecting human rights, empowering the disabled and disadvantaged, driving up literacy rates and much more, technological innovation has the power to make our world a better place.
That’s where initiatives like Microsoft’s Imagine Cup come in – helping to encourage the brightest and best students to develop world-changing technology projects by unlocking their creativity.
Founded in 2003, it’s now the world’s biggest student technology competition, with tens of thousands of students participating from around the world each year.
This year, the global final will take place in Seattle on 25 July, with the first prize of $100,000, mentorship opportunities and Azure credits all to play for.
The winners will be awarded $100,000, a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, a $120,000 Azure Grant and a trip to next year’s Build developer conference.
The Europeans are coming Europe has long been a hotbed of computing talent. From “father of AI”, Alan Turing, to World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Nikola Tesla, the Lumière brothers and more, leading figures from the region have contributed to some of history’s most thrilling technology innovations. Now it’s time for the next generation to step out of the shadows.
So, who’s competing from Europe? Let’s take a look at the 14 teams travelling to Seattle and the projects they’ll be hoping to wow the judges with.
Team TBC (Belarus) This project uses a neural network to determine psychogeometric characteristics of a person from photographs, which allows more effective communication according to their individual characteristics, with a focus on business and sales settings. The use-case is to help companies hire the right students by sophisticated data-driven algorithms based on psychology, face/gestures-recognition and company culture assessment. The algorithms can also be used to help out the service industry to better communicate with customers based on psycho-type and emotion detection in real time.
Theatrall (France) Theatrall aims to make theaters accessible for everyone through simple software available on smartglasses, smartphones or tablets, which will display the production subtitles in the language chosen by the user. The goal is to make theatre experiences accessible for everyone, such as people with hearing impairments, non-native language speakers, or simply for those wishing for subtitles.
Soul Sailor (Germany) Soul Sailor is a platform that provides psychological care for refugees and asylum seekers, including a chatbot to help individuals process their experiences while seeking refuge. Soul Sailor supports refugees dealing with mental illnesses such as PTSD or depression by providing psychological care and eliminating factors out of their surroundings which contribute to their issues. The platform is powered by an AI and data-driven digital companion called Mayu, who interacts with the user via speech and helps them express their experiences and worries. In addition, the system also allows fled relatives who have been separated to communicate with a novel event-based network solution.
NASC (Germany) NASC is a web app that allows you to search for news articles on the web, attempts to evaluate sentiments in those articles and then visualizes the results. The goal is to encourage people interested in politics and other important topics and events to go beyond the first search result and to look at multiple articles that express different views about the same topic. To achieve this, NASC offers three different result views. The Map view helps portray geographical differences in the attitude towards a given issue. The Timeline view visualizes the development of the sentiment towards an issue over time, and the List view provides a familiar user interface similar to regular search engines and shows more details at first glance than the other, more specialized views.
Pavo (Germany) Pavo Vision makes digital content accessible to visually impaired users, by utilizing advanced AI, Cloud Computing and the power of the community. Visual content in websites, documents, and other digital assets gets analyzed and equipped with a description of the visual for visually impaired users by the Pavo Vision System. Mistakes in the analysis can be reported by the Pavo community to train the system, making the models smarter over time. The Pavo Vision system is currently available as a browser plugin, with future support for Microsoft Teams planned.
StudySmarter (Germany) StudySmarter is an intelligent learning platform, designed to help students achieve their educational goals and graduate from university. The platform digitizes the entire learning process, making it more efficient, structured and engaging. Machine learning algorithms accompany the student through the entire learning experience by automating or creating learning materials such as summaries, mind maps or flashcards with just a few clicks. In addition, the student is automatically connected with fellow students.StudySmarter not only saves time learning, but also boosts motivation.
iCry2Talk (Greece) iCry2Talk proposes a low-cost and non-invasive intelligent interface between infants and parents. Baby’s cries are translated in real-time, being associated with specific physiological and psychological states. Results are depicted in text, image and voice messages. iCry2Talk believes that the efficient combination and analysis of different sources of information through advanced signal processing techniques and deep learning algorithms can provide meaningful and reliable feedback to parents.
Innobie (Hungary) Innobie is a smartphone app to help students understand the curriculum they are reading in textbooks. The app projects a virtual augmented 3D image over 2D illustrations in books, and can help elementary students learn biology, chemistry, geography, history, and more. By allowing users to explore virtual objects from all angles, they can gain a deeper understanding for more complex subjects than a mere 2D image would be able to provide.
DeafKIT (Moldova) DeafKIT is an automatic solution for sign-language translation based on neural networks. Translations are provided with video capturing to make communication easier and more effective, with up to 100% accuracy. The solution aims to be used on trading centres, social networks and more.
Wavy (Poland) Wavy is an underwater locator for scuba divers which allows divers to track each other via a small device, which can prove to be vital during emergency situations. In addition to its safety benefits, the Diving Logbook feature tracks the route, depth and temperature of each dive. Diving bases can also measure the most popular routes to help recommend them to customers.
VisionX (Romania) XVision is a system designed to automatically detect anomalies and diseases encountered anywhere in the human body with radiologist-level accuracy, just by analyzing common medical X-ray images with the help of the latest Azure AI technologies such as Machine Learning. The system will provide a crucial solution for people in areas of the world that lack access to radiology diagnostics while also acting as an assistant tool for the medical experts examining radiographs.
Coffee Break (Russia) Coffee Break utilises spectrometry in an innovative way by labeling tradeable goods. this amazing tool in the business for labeling of tradable goods. The solution can be used in a variety of ways, such as counterfeit detection, by comparing goods to the known qualities of their genuine counterparts. The tool can also be used to track expensive items such as wine.
InterviewBot (UK) InterviewBot is a web-based application tailored to aid students with video or physical interviews when applying for jobs by providing real-time feedback on interview-style questions. Companies can also use this tool to assess their candidates’ performance, while a written transcript allowing employers to dissect interviews in detail. It uses facial analysis and speech recognition to offer real-time feedback on facial expressions during practice interviews, informing users whether their style is positive, neutral, or negative.
Black Light (UK) Black Light’s project, Firepoint, is a First-Person mixed reality simulator, built around helping firefighters explain and display what their daily work environment is like without putting anyone at risk. The simulator allows users to see through the eyes of a firefighter as they make their way through a multi-story training ground with a variety of different encounters to tackle. The goal is to use this tool to help firefighters in community outreach, recruitment, and training.
Digital transformation is the key IT trend driving enterprise data center modernization. Businesses today rapidly deploy web-scale applications, file sharing services, online content repositories, sensors for internet of things implementations and big data analytics. While these digital advancements facilitate new insights, streamline processes and enable better collaboration, they also increase unstructured data at an alarming rate.
Managing unstructured data and its massive growth can quickly strain legacy file storage systems that are poorly suited for managing vast amounts of this data. Taneja Group recently investigated the most common of these file storage limitations in a recent survey. The study found the top challenges IT faces with traditional file storage are lack of flexibility, poor storage utilization, inability to scale to petabyte levels and failure to support distributed data. These obstacles often lead to high storage costs, complex storage management and limited flexibility in unstructured data storage.
So how are companies addressing the unstructured data management challenge? As with all things IT, it’s essential to have the right architecture. For unstructured data storage, this means a highly scalable, resilient, flexible, economical and accessible secondary storage environment.
Let’s take a closer look at modern unstructured data storage requirements and examine why distributed file systems and a scale-out object storage design, or scale-out storage, are becoming a key part of modern secondary storage management.
Scalability and resiliency
Given the huge amounts of unstructured data, scalability is undeniably the most critical aspect of modern secondary storage. This is where scale-out storage shines. It’s ideal for managing huge amounts of unstructured data because it easily scales to hundreds of petabytes simply by adding storage nodes. This inherent advantage over scale-up file storage appliances that become bottlenecked by single or dual controllers has prompted several data protection vendors to offer scale-out secondary storage platforms. Notable vendors with scale-out secondary storage offerings are Cohesity, Rubik and — most recently — Commvault.
Attaining storage resiliency is another important requirement of modern secondary storage. Two key factors are required to achieve storage resiliency. The first is high fault tolerance. Scale-out storage is ideal in this area because it uses space-efficient erasure coding and flexible replication policies to tolerate site, multiple node and disk failures.
Rapid data recovery is the second key factor for storage resiliency. For near-instantaneous recovery times, IT managers should look for secondary storage products that provision clones from backup snapshots to recover applications in minutes or even seconds. Secondary storage products should allow administrators to run recovered applications directly on secondary storage until data is copied back to primary storage and be able to orchestrate the recovery of multi-tier applications.
Flexibility and cost
To handle multiple, unstructured data storage use cases, modern secondary storage must also be flexible. Central to flexibility is multiprotocol support. Scale-out storage should support both file and object protocols, such as NFS for Linux, SMB or CIFS for Windows and Amazon Simple Storage Service for web-scale applications. True system flexibility also requires modularity, or composable architecture, which enables multidimensional scalability and I/O flexibility. Admins must be able to quickly vary computing, network and storage resources to accommodate IOPS-, throughput- and capacity-intensive workloads.
Good economics is another requirement for modern secondary storage. Scale-out storage reduces hardware costs by enabling software-defined storage that uses standard, off-the-shelf servers. It’s also simple to maintain. Administrators can easily upgrade or replace computing nodes without having to migrate data among systems, reducing administration time and operating costs. Scale-out secondary storage also provides the option to store data in cost-effective public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Moreover, scale-out storage reduces administration time by eliminating storage silos and the rigid, hierarchical structure used in file storage appliances. It instead places all data in a flat address space or single storage pool. Scale-out secondary storage also provides built-in metadata file search capabilities that help users quickly locate the data they need.
Some vendors, such as Cohesity, offer full-text search that facilitates compliance activities by letting companies quickly find files containing sensitive data, such as passwords and Social Security numbers. Add to this support for geographically distributed environments, and it’s easy to see why scale-out storage is essential for cost-effectively managing large-scale storage environments.
The final important ingredient of modern secondary storage environments is providing easy access to services required to manage secondary data. As the amount of unstructured data grows, IT can make things easier for storage administrators and improve organizational agility by giving application owners self-service tools that automate the full data lifecycle. This means providing a portal or marketplace and predefined service-level agreement templates that establish the proper data storage parameters. These parameters include recovery points, retention periods and workload placement based on a company’s standard data policies. Secondary storage should also integrate with database management tools, such as Oracle Recovery Manager.
Clearly, distributed file systems and scale-out object storage architectures are a key part of modern secondary storage offerings. There is an evolution of secondary product portfolios to address the immense unstructured data storage needs of modern organizations in the digital era. So stay tuned, as I expect nearly all major data protection vendors will introduce scale-out secondary storage products over the next 12 to 18 months.