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September 18, 2012

Cloud Storage Gateways vs. Cloud Integrated Storage

In any emerging market, initial terminology can become confusing as vendors and analysts alike define the solution to a given problem. Such is the case with cloud computing.

As cloud storage becomes increasingly mainstream among enterprises, there is a frequent misunderstanding of the terms “cloud storage gateways” and “cloud integrated storage” (a.k.a. CiS), according to Nicos Vekiarides (News - Alert), CEO and co-founder of TwinStrata.

“As cloud storage moves closer to the IT mainstream, we see this same story arc playing out, with analysts and vendors coining a new category of products – ‘Cloud Integrated Storage’ – that is subtly different from the ‘cloud storage gateway’ term that previously captured the entire category,” Vekiarides wrote in a recent blog post.

Citing an ESG report, TwinStrata (News - Alert) said CiS entails “primary and/or most active data staying onsite (as a tier or cache)” – meaning that CiS delivers cloud storage in addition to traditional storage to on-premise environments.

“In fact, it may all sound very familiar to those already using advanced cloud storage gateways and appliances,” according to Vekiarides.

But getting mired in the differences of these two definitions distracts from the larger issue, he said, which is the question of what elements an IT department should be looking at to incorporate cloud into their storage strategy. TwinStrata outlined the following three types of problems businesses are trying to solve using cloud storage:

1)      Growing storage capacity with minimal local footprint. With unstructured data growing at a rate of 20-60 percent per year, according to IDC (News - Alert), it does not bode well for data center constraints. To address these storage needs without physically expanding their data centers or increasing administration, businesses can connect to a large, virtually unlimited, cloud store, while using a small amount of local capacity for caching – which is one of the fundamental premises behind cloud storage gateways, according to Vekiarides.

2)      Replicating storage capacity to cloud for disaster recovery. Replicating data to the cloud alleviates the burden of having to physically expand a data center. “Creating a capacity pool in the cloud that replicates and/or snapshots local storage capacity can serve as that disaster recovery plan,” Vekiarides said.

3)      Tiering excess capacity to cloud. Cloud storage is a viable alternative for companies that need to not only store data locally, but also to store their growing archive of data for compliance reasons.

As Vekiarides summarized: “An ideal cloud storage solution addresses all three scenarios, whether it is labeled a CiS solution or an advanced gateway.”

Founded in 2007, TwinStrata offers its revered revolutionary CloudArray software that makes cloud storage as fast, safe and easy to access as local storage. A CloudArray virtual or physical appliance takes minutes to configure and integrates public cloud, private cloud and local or remote storage devices into flexible “Cloud SANs.”

TwinStrata also offers a family of software and hardware appliances geared for businesses of any size that offer off-site data protection; disaster recovery; business continuity; and instant data storage capacity expansion. But for TwinStrata, one of its key goals is explaining to people the importance of moving to the cloud and just how easy cloud storage can be, Vekiarides said in a recent interview with TMCnet.

“The most important thing that we are seeing is that the cost of maintaining IT infrastructure for most organizations is very high,” he said. “About 70 percent of IT costs go into maintaining existing infrastructures and what businesses really want to do is provide better services to their customers. But, if only 30 percent of IT dollars can go to this, how can they do that when they spend all of their time and money maintaining existing infrastructure.”

“Cloud storage pushes all of that to the cloud provider,” he added. “For example, provisioning, data storage and daily backups can become automated and easier without any manual intervention. All of the operations contribute to the high maintenance burden, but with cloud we really take that away. We offload that from the administrator.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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