Hybrid Cloud Storage Buying Guide

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First there were public clouds offered by service providers like Amazon. Then there were private clouds set up within the enterprise and safely locked up behind the firewall. And now we are seeing a greater incidence of hybrid clouds, which are a blend of both. This concept is catching hold as companies manage to assure storage managers and CIOs that they won’t lose control of their storage.

“Regardless of the ultimate computing destination, the CIO will maintain ownership of the organization’s data,” said Jay Kidd, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NetApp,.

There are many companies offering hybrid cloud storage. Here a few of the candidates.


NetApp’s universal data platform (based on its ONTAP software platform) provides data portability, and the ability to spread storage across private clouds and/or public cloud service providers. The introduction of multi-cloud storage architectures, of course, makes storage governance more complex because data is distributed and not under direct supervision. With the clustered Data ONTAP operating system at its core, NetApp aims to help the user span the entire cloud storage landscape, irrespective of data type or location.

Data ONTAP sits in the midst of it all as a single storage and data management platform that is said to enable unrestricted, secure movement of data across public and private clouds. This is aided by prebuilt private cloud architectures based on FlexPod, the converged infrastructure approach supplied by NetApp storage and Cisco networking, which comes with either a VMware or Microsoft private cloud.

Adam Fore, Director of Cloud Solutions Marketing, NetApp, said there are over 200 cloud service providers built on NetApp storage and software that can natively interconnect with a NetApp private cloud infrastructure. These service providers provide such services as infrastructure, backup, DR, and desktop as a service. In addition, NetApp Private Storage for Amazon Web Services is said to enable an organization to realize the benefits of hyperscale cloud services such as EC2 compute, while maintaining the performance and control of their enterprise data.

“Enabling seamless data management across cloud resources is not easy, but by leveraging NetApp’s universal data platform and integrated data portability, organizations can create a cloud data fabric across an extensive choice of cloud providers to take advantage of the services that best serve the business,” said Fore. “NetApp has the broadest ecosystem of cloud provider, application and technology partner options, enabling our customers to build hybrid cloud environments that best fit their organizations.”


Like NetApp, EMC combines its storage backbone and various elements within its software arsenal with what it calls a its federation partners, VMware, RSA and Pivotal, in order to provide the range of products, solutions and services that make up a hybrid cloud.

EMC, of course, serves up the underlying storage infrastructure for private and public clouds as well as converged infrastructure Vblock platforms from VCE. In addition, EMC supplies associated strategy, assessment and implementation services for clouds. On the applications side, EMC provides cloud-optimized application development environments via Pivotal as well as consulting services to determine the best cloud model. 

An example of a public cloud delivery model is the VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, which is a public cloud solution consistent with enterprise virtualization environments. A service example is the EMC Cloud Advisory Service

“We see many IT organizations who are transforming to deliver IT as a service and provide a hybrid cloud delivery model to reduce costs and align more closely with business requirements,” said Edward Newman, Senior Director, Cloud and IT Transformation, Global Services at EMC. “Traditional IT suppliers have a similar vision, but lack some key technology underpinnings found in market-leading virtualization stack from VMware and EMC.  Amazon Web Services has a fast-growing and flexible public cloud solution, but lacks the performance and enterprise-class reliability of private cloud solutions such as EMC’s.”


CloudArray from TwinStrata is said to easily scale storage area networks and network attached storage with on-demand cloud storage to support primary, secondary, backup and archive storage needs. It does this by presenting object storage in iSCSI, NFS or CIFS formats to applications and users. This simplifies the integration process. A policy-driven on-site cache sits locally, providing users with a hybrid environment that is asynchronously replicating to the cloud.

CloudArray can support multiple caches simultaneously, and each cache can be sized to support a full copy of data, a percentage of the most recently accessed data, or none of the data. As a result, users can customize a hybrid cloud storage environment that meets their varying requirements. Further features include an in-cloud snapshot scheduler, encryption, disaster recovery, a bandwidth scheduler and the ability to support multiple clouds or migrate between them. CloudArray licenses begin at $99/month. It can be implemented as either a virtual or a physical appliance on premise.

“Typically, customers concerned about privacy regulations and sensitive personal data are most interested in supporting an all private cloud model, whereas companies most concerned with costs and resources (i.e. for maintenance and management) are more supportive of an all public cloud model,” said Nicos Vekiarides, CEO and Co-Founder at TwinStrata. “TwinStrata natively supports both SAN and NAS protocols simultaneously, making it suitable for multiple use cases from a single appliance.”


Storage automation is a major requirement in making the hybrid cloud concept work. IBM is seeking to answer that need with a software defined storage offering known as IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center (VSC). It is a storage virtualization and data management platform that helps users transition to cloud storage with the promise of no rip and replace. It is said to be able to manage and protect heterogeneous storage environments. IBM can provide the underlying storage or manage the arrays of other providers.

It is integrated and comes with a range of IBM storage software tools. This includes IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, the remote-mirroring and FlashCopy capabilities of IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager. It supports Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol and has reporting based on IBM Cognos. It also has the ability to perform automated discovery and provisioning of file systems by utilizing IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) and IBM Storwize V7000 Unified.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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