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Private Multicloud Storage Improves Security, Manageability

A private storage solution that can be run both on-premises and in multiple clouds promises better security, cost and manageability.

Even as more organizations move some or all of their storage to the cloud, decision-makers remain concerned about security, cost and manageability, especially in multicloud environments. A new private multicloud storage solution that allows applications to move from multiple clouds as well as on-premises aims to change that.

The solution combines the Madison Cloud Appliance, which stores workloads on a private cloud with direct connections to the major cloud services, with StorONE’s S1 software-defined storage. The private cloud is hosted on the Equinix Cloud Exchange, which connects to major cloud providers. It can also be deployed on-premises as a stand-alone system or in a hybrid architecture to provide a single storage fabric across their entire environment.

Each technology—Madison Cloud Appliance and StorONE’s S1—provides something important. Madison Cloud provides the cloud infrastructure including the WAN/LAN/CSP-connected networking, client architecture design and implementation, 24/7 network and security monitoring, project management and support.

StorONE provides the storage software layer, and it can be used with many different storage types, including all-flash or hybrid array, virtual storage, secondary storage or cloud storage. The software supports all protocols (block, file and object) in a single software solution that includes enterprise-class data protection and data retention. According to Madison Cloud CEO Randall Van Allen, StorONE’s S1 software eliminates drive selection dependencies typically found in legacy RAID-based storage solutions. Customers can co-mingle and hot swap almost any drive make or model in the same storage server chassis. Volume-level erasure coding provides rapid recovery in case of a drive failure, without degrading volume performance. Zero data snapshots and replication capabilities are built in. 

Together, the technologies provide a single interface into all storage assets with all functions triggered from that one interface. At the same time, customers have freedom of choice on the hardware side—something many organizations value.

Because most cloud service providers have built their data centers very close to Equinix’s data centers and usually run their networks through Equinix as well, connections are very low latency. Van Allen said latency tends to be as little as 1 millisecond.

“With the ability to directly connect to over 2,900 providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud and IBM Cloud, clients can host their applications wherever they’d like while keeping complete control of their data in a secure private cloud without compromising performance,” he added.

Multicloud management—one of the big problems organizations are dealing with in the multicloud world—also tends to be easier with this type of model, said George Crump, chief steward and principal analyst at storage consultancy Storage Switzerland.

“Let’s say you use Madison Cloud’s model to have your storage in an Equinix data center and Google, Amazon and Azure are generally all within 100 yards of you. You can switch between cloud providers at least from a compute standpoint almost instantly with no data movement,” he said. “My whole complaint with the multicloud hype is if you decide you want to go from Amazon to Google, you have to figure out how to get it over there and pay egress fees. Here, the data becomes the center of the universe and the cloud providers are planets rotating around that sun.”

These factors may make the solution particularly attractive to organizations with performance concerns, such as those running high-performance databases or analytics applications. It may also be attractive to users running application development and testing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), or for disaster recovery purposes.

There are several ways to use the solution. In addition to the multicloud storage option, organizations can run it both on-premises and in multiple clouds, creating a unified storage fabric, which gives storage administrators the same experience and full control, regardless of where their data is located. Finally, users can choose to have Madison Cloud host the data in its own data centers.

That last option is one Crump said he expects to see more of over time.

“I think we’ll see more of these ‘white glove’ cloud providers that want to do the work for you,” he said. “With AWS, for example, you’re buying an erector set and building the plane yourself. Here, they are essentially using the same erector set but they are building the plane for you and you can customize it from there.”

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