It might feel like choosing technologies is more like picking sides. iOS vs Android, Mac vs PC, Xbox vs PlayStation, etc. That either/or fallacy is now finding its way into data centers. The split comes when deciding a what types of cloud storage is right for your enterprise.

The cloud has become a legitimate option for enterprise storage. However, the question has shifted from if the business should use the cloud to how the business needs to be using the cloud. We’ve seen this question split system administrator teams down the middle between file and object types of cloud storage.

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A typical discussion about types of cloud storage

Let’s take a look at an example I see all the time. Say you, like many enterprises, have file-based workloads and applications that depend on file-based storage. These workloads are likely critical for your business. But with data center costs continuing to rise, an initiative is drawn up to migrate to the public cloud. If you’re lucky, that initiative comes with cloud specialists to navigate the types of cloud storage available. If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably had a conversation like this before:

Enterprise Architect: “So we need to move XYZ app to the public cloud. We have done some application mapping and know most of the dependencies. The big one will be SMB share access to the file the app consumes and generates.”

Cloud Architect: “That is not going to work. We need to change the app so that it can operate via S3 in the public cloud.”

Enterprise Architect: “This app is over 10 years old, no one who wrote it is still here…”

And scene.

Now as a cloud solutions architect myself, I get the benefits of writing your apps for the cloud. But, it is unrealistic to take on both a migration and app rewrite at the same time and have both succeed. Stubbornness can exist on both sides of this divide, but the correct solution doesn’t just differ between businesses. It can also vary depending on workloads as well. Determining the right type of cloud storage will allow for easier migrations, with less headaches, and with the desired result. Nothing is worse than having to failback from a botched migration attempt to public cloud.

Why not have both types of cloud storage?

When looking into types of cloud storage, I recommend sticking to a hybrid file and object story.

There are many reasons why an enterprise would want to take a hybrid approach to the cloud. The specifics might vary depending on workload, but generally enterprises that take a hybrid approach to the cloud:

  • Are able to move to the cloud at their own pace. With a hybrid approach, the location of a customer’s data footprint becomes purely a business decision based on economics and the nature of the workload.
  • Use the same filesystem for applications, whether on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Can take advantage of the features of file and the efficiency of object.

With that in mind, there are certain things you should look for when considering the types of cloud storage for your business. On the file-based storage side, look for support for enterprise class features (Auditing, Replication, AD support) and protocols (SMB and NFS). Look for REST APIs to configure those enterprise features, and to read and write data based on object protocols.

Even better, look for ways to use both file and object together. But be careful. File-object gateways have become popular ways to mimic file-based behavior, but access object-based storage. The issue here is that once a gateway writes “files” to an object store, only that gateway can find that file again.

Takeaways for types of cloud storage

Are you ready to make the leap to the cloud? Here are a few steps you can take to pick the best types of cloud storage that are best for your business.

  1. Assess the workloads you want to move to the cloud. Determine what you need from a cloud storage solution to keep those applications running.
  2.  Look to see if the vendors you already work with have a cloud storage solution that could fit your needs.
  3. Explore the cloud storage market for new players and emerging technologies. I can think of one that is worth looking at right away.

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John McGovern has seen over a decade helping companies integrate critical technologies into their infrastructure. At Qumulo, he is responsible for building Qumulo for the cloud, helping customers scale their storage systems beyond the data center.

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