As more organizations explore the possibility of moving data into the cloud, the first question they are bound to ask is, “How do we seamlessly move what we already have into the cloud?” No organizations are more concerned with this transparent data movement than service providers and enterprises that have a lot to gain but just as much to lose if problems arise.
As such, organizations have built a wall of objections as they need more than “assurances” that a solution will safely move their data into a public storage cloud in such a way that it will not disrupt their current operations. They also want tangible proof that the solution is proven and has been “hardened” in existing production environments.
I recently had a series of conversations with F5 and NetApp regarding these concerns and what steps they have been doing to address these corporate concerns. In that vein, they have been working together for some time and now jointly deliver the F5® ARX® and the NetApp StorageGRID to help companies facilitate this seamless transition to an enterprise public cloud.
The F5 ARX is used to eliminate the time, effort and analysis that are normally required to determine which data to move into the cloud while that NetApp StorageGrid handles the transparent storage of an organization’s data in a service provider’s storage cloud. In that regards, there are a number of features that make the cooperation and integration between F5 and NetApp noteworthy as they relate to making this adoption of enterprise public storage clouds a reality.
First, the F5 ARX provides an initial assessment of what files exist in an enterprise’s shared storage environment. This assessment reports on where files reside, how frequently these files are accessed and how many of these files can be moved into the cloud.
Second, the F5 ARX offers the policy based engine that can non-disruptively migrate these files into the cloud and moves as much or as little of an organization’s data into the cloud as they like. This enables companies to do a proof of concept by only taking a portion of their files and moving them into the cloud. Once organizations are comfortable that the ARX is working as expected, they can move other data into the cloud.
Third, F5 and NetApp have together acquired many years of practical experience migrating data to the cloud and then managing it once it resides there. Their initial forays into public cloud storage started with medical picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) that held large amounts of data but were only managed by one user.
However these single user environments enabled F5 and NetApp to develop best practices for managing data in the cloud using their respective products. They now understand many of the practical concerns associated with migrating data to the cloud and then managing it once it is there and have been able to leverage that knowledge as they look to move multi-user enterprise environments to the cloud.
Fourth, the majority of companies that are looking to adopt enterprise public storage clouds plan to initially move hundreds or even thousands of user home directories and their files into the cloud. As nearly 70% of these enterprises use Windows shares, a solution certified with Windows environments is prerequisite.
This is the role that the NetApp StorageGRID plays. It is certified with CIFS and provides full Windows-like CIFS functionality. So once NetApp StorageGRID is in place users continue to get the full Windows experience that they expect even though the directories and files they access reside in the cloud.
Fifth, the F5 ARX and NetApp StorageGRID work in conjunction with one another to migrate data into the cloud while preserving the security permissions on each directory and file. Testing between these providers has been going on for nearly two years so F5 and NetApp now have the confidence, experience and real world examples so they can provide more than assurance but the real world testimonies and references that enterprise companies seek.
Moving and storing data in enterprise public storage clouds is still a road that enterprise companies are justifiably leery about going down. But as F5 and NetApp shared with me, they have been working together for some time to overcome these initial objections that many companies have about moving and storing data in public storage clouds: making the migration and management of data to the cloud as seamless and easy as possible.
By jointly working together and providing a solution that is tested and proven in real-world environments, this experience enables F5 and NetApp to backup their claims that together they can facilitate this seamless transition of a company’s data to a public storage cloud and then manage it once it is there. But maybe more importantly, what F5 and NetApp are accomplishing is starting to break down the invisible wall that has kept companies from adopting enterprise public storage cloud which has far greater ramifications in the months and years to come.