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Solve your data storage headaches with Hybrid Cloud Storage

By: Chris Jones

As an educational establishment, you may already be aware that the amount of data we create continues to grow at an exponential rate, with the amount of data currently in existence set to double by 2020. With changes in teaching and studying styles, staff and students are now creating and storing huge numbers of audio, video and image files.  As a result, IT departments are spending a significant amount of time and money on their storage infrastructure, which means less time spent on implementing solutions that drive productivity and have a positive impact on their bottom line.

Many of our customers are increasingly turning to us and asking how they can resolve their data storage issues.  More often than not, our answer is that they should consider a hybrid cloud storage solution such as Microsoft Azure StorSimple.  This particular solution provides the best of both on-premise and cloud capabilities by combining the fast connectivity of local data storage with the resiliency and cost effectiveness of the cloud.  To understand why, consider the most common and pressing data storage issues listed below and how Azure StorSimple addresses them:

 

  • Traditional storage takes too long to acquire
    When organizations acquire and implement all their on-premise storage, the process can easily take anywhere from six to nine months if not longer.  With Azure StorSimple, you can access cloud-based storage capacity within a few minutes of requesting it via the management console. You can barely say “we need” before you’ve got it.
  • Traditional storage costs too much
    Investing in traditional storage in an education establishment usually means spending hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds on hardware, and usually requires over-buying to ensure there is no repeat of the same expensive and time-consuming process again in another year or two.  Compare this to the Azure element of StorSimple, where you have the option of only being charged for storage you’ve actually used, and billed on a monthly basis. This allows you to move the bulk of your storage costs from CapEx to OpEx, which is a huge benefit to organisations that do not want to make those costly upfront purchases.
  • Traditional storage isn’t scalable enough
    Traditional storage is also rigid and does not allow an establishment any means by which to be scalable or agile.  Traditional storage locks you in — once you’ve purchased the equipment, you pay for it whether that’s how much you happen to need right now or not.  StorSimple differs in that it uses cloud storage as an extension of the on-premises solution, which allows an establishment to scale according to how much data is being produced.  It does this by using storage tiering to manage data across various storage media:

 

  • Tier 1 current working data is stored on-premises on solid state drives (SSDs)
  • Tier 2 data that is used less frequently is stored on-premises on hard disk drives (HDDs)
  • Tier 3 archival data is automatically pushed into Microsoft’s Azure cloud (fig 1)

Fig 1

 

  • Traditional storage takes too long to backup and restore
    Everyone knows that traditional backup and restores are costly, time consuming, unreliable and overwork your servers.  Azure StorSimple’s data protection features ensures that all data, regardless of where it resides is incrementally snapshotted and remains easily accessible to users.  These snapshots can be stored locally on the StorSimple appliance for fast recovery and in Azure for complete peace of mind.
  • Traditional storage requires an alternative and expensive Disaster Recovery location
    Traditional storage typically requires an expensive offsite disaster recovery location and a very convoluted disaster recovery plan (or at least mine used to).  Should the physical StorSimple appliance ever go down, a virtual appliance can be pre-created in Azure and Tier 1 data restored on-demand to your on-premise infrastructure, to an alternative recovery location, or even within Azure itself. Tier 1 data typically accounts for 10% of your total data, which means recovery time objectives post-disaster are significantly reduced and negates the need for an expensive disaster recovery facility.

 

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that was it, that the benefits of a StorSimple appliance end there.  But what if I told you that it also did the following too:

 

  • In addition to file shares, the StorSimple Adapter for SharePoint also allows you to store SharePoint content on a file server that is backed up either locally or to Azure by a StorSimple device. Sharepoint content is also subjected to the same tiering process as any other file hosted in StorSimple.  The removal of this content from the Sharepoint back end servers also reduces their load and improves their responsiveness.
  • The new volume pinning feature allows you to run actual VM’s and workloads on the Tier 1 SSD storage on the StorSimple appliance.  These workloads are ‘pinned’ and therefore never move to other tiers, thus ensuring they meet performance levels.  Again, these workloads can be snapshotted and sent to Azure for backup and DR purposes.

 

Hopefully this article will have explained how taking your first steps down the hybrid cloud storage route can solve your data storage headaches.  If you feel you are now ready to make the move to hybrid cloud storage, then call us on 01974 200 203 or email sales@pugh.co.uk  Make an upfront Azure monetary commitment to take advantage of the current offer of a FREE StorSimple appliance.  This offer has been extended for new StorSimple customers until the 30th of June 2017 and extended for existing StorSimple customers until the 28th of February 2018.  T&C’s apply.