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Data Optimization in Cloud Storage

The crucial technology that will provide service providers with the greatest cost reduction is data optimization

The promise of "the cloud" is that cloud storage delivers users seamless "just in time" storage scalability to handle growth and quickly respond to peak loads. The economics and business impact of cloud storage also delivers a compelling financial proposition in today's budget constrained IT environments. To the IT consumer shifting what was a capital expense and a fixed cost to a variable cost operating expense is financially compelling. Additionally, the ability to function in a "just in time" mode versus a "predictive" model for consumable storage also changes the CAPEX impact further assisting in justifying an already strong value proposition for adopting cloud storage.

IDC forecasts that cloud-based storage will represent a $15.6B market by 2015 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32%. They also predict 10,000 service providers will focus on cloud storage with a data protection emphasis. The economics of this market transition will continue to evolve and accelerate as costs of delivering cloud services are optimized by service providers that become more efficient - ever mindful of the cost of their plant/facility, operating expenses and business margins.

The crucial technology that will provide service providers with the greatest cost reduction is data optimization. Data optimization incorporates deduplication, compression and thin provisioning technologies that maximize storage efficiency. Data optimization is the most significant innovation in the storage industry, enabling organizations to save more information in a smaller physical footprint. Nowhere does the fundamental concept of storing less data dramatically change economics more than for providers of cloud storage infrastructure.

When applied to the cloud, data optimization is a disruptive technology. It increases storage efficiency on a 5X to 35X scale. In cloud storage environments the impact is simple and compelling. For a data mix that yields a 5X boost to storage efficiency, costs drop to 20% of what they previously were. In addition, reductions in floor space, power and cooling and manpower all significantly improve operating efficiency. With a clearly differentiated value proposition the disruptive nature of applying data optimization enables the service provider to grow their business by gaining market share at the competitor's expense.

Data optimization's impact on storage consumption in the cloud or in the data center yields operating efficiency and critical business advantages;

  • Reduced capital expense - in any storage environment media is a substantial expense. Disk drives and now SSDs are a significant cost because they need to be available in anticipation of demand. Reducing cost to store data will have a direct impact on the IT expense budget's bottom line. Data optimization applied here will drive down capital storage costs by 80% or more.
  • Data center operating efficiency - with a 5X increase in storage efficiency the requirements for the cloud or data center proportionately decrease. The same data is stored on data optimized storage that is now 80% less and is delivered with 20% of existing floor space, power and cooling costs.
  • Additional benefits are realized through data optimization in network bandwidth consumption, manpower requirements, operational systems needed to support the infrastructure and overall management of the cloud service provider or data center.

Market Drivers
Worldwide data growth is consistently in the 50% per year range. The storage necessary to house this data dramatically impacts enterprise IT operations and their capital budgets. Enterprises are evaluating and planning to use cloud storage to gain business agility and manage capital cost variations. Cloud service providers compete on location, cost, reputation and SLAs. Providers must increasingly differentiate their offering either by developing technology in house or by leveraging third party solutions from major storage vendors. .

Industry analysts, well aware of the impact of continued data growth on IT budgets and the rapid adoption of cloud storage, continue to observe the impact of how data optimization significantly increases IT efficiency and recommend data optimization technologies for all phases of data storage from primary through to the cloud.

At a recent Gartner Conference, one of the keynote speakers was adamant that throwing hardware at the problem of rampant data growth will not work. His view was that IT needs to optimize storage capacity consumption with virtualization, data deduplication and bandwidth optimization. I found this to be quite a contrarian view since the platform vendors have dominated the dialogue in IT informatics. Here was a keynote speaker saying hardware is not the answer to managing the data glut...it's a software fix that we need. Later in the event another session, another speaker, and data deduplication was raised as "emerging as a top opportunity to positively impact data growth because of its ability to reduce the amount of data consuming costly storage." Additionally, the discussion also evolved to include the "green impact" of reducing the amount of data which in turn impacts floor space, power and cooling consumption. Seems that deduplication and data optimization is a win-win.

Summary
Disruptive technologies deliver competitive advantage. Data optimization is one of those technologies that can make market leaders by clearly differentiating what they offer versus their competitors. Sometimes it's economic and other times it can be technical leadership. In the case of both economic and technology leadership, a market disruptive technology, such as data optimization, will drive market share growth and enable rapid business growth at the expense of competitors.

In the case of cloud storage, the first storage systems vendor to bring cloud storage products to market with integrated data optimization technology will gain a huge advantage in the rapidly growing cloud service provider space. In addition, their products will become deeply entrenched into the cloud provider infrastructure because they reduce storage costs and increase overall operational efficiency.

More Stories By Wayne Salpietro

Wayne Salpietro is the director of product and social media marketing at data storage and cloud backup services provider Permabit Technology Corp. He has served in this capacity for the past six years, prior to which he held product marketing and managerial roles at CA, HP, and IBM.

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