Stop Floating in a Public Cloud: Build a Private One

June 21, 2016

6:06 pm

Dropbox’s decision to migrate most of its customer data storage from Amazon Web Services to a homegrown, in-house solution has shined some high-profile light on the benefits of “privatizing” your cloud storage.

Code-named “Magic Pocket,” Dropbox’s initiative moved 90 percent of its users’ data onto its own made-to-order platform — a sharp departure from the company’s eight-year reliance on Amazon’s Simple Storage Service cloud.

While scalability, instant provisioning, virtualized resources, and the pay-as-you-go economics are well-known benefits of cloud storage, Dropbox’s example raises considerations that businesses must think about for the sake of security, reliability, flexibility, regulatory compliance, cost-effectiveness, and additional growth.

Is the public cloud, where the enterprise buys a slice of a larger cloud storage pie, adequate for your organization’s needs? Or is it time to consider a private cloud solution, offering dedicated hardware, storage, and networking in a single-tenant environment?

Going Private

Data creation is booming. More data has been created since 2013 than in all previous human history combined. Experts predict that in four years, we’ll be creating over six gigabytes of data every hour for every person on earth.

Meanwhile, businesses aren’t making the most of the data they have: Only about half a percent of it is ever analyzed. And for a Fortune 1000 company, boosting access to data by just 10 percent could add $65 million to the top line. Moving your company’s data to a private cloud environment can both facilitate analysis and ease access. Here are three reasons you might want to move to a private cloud solution:

Data security and regulatory compliance are important to your business. You’ll have more direct control over your own data — and that of your customers and users. This is particularly important in the healthcare, financial, and legal services sectors, as well as in law enforcement and government organizations.

You require more flexibility to work with your data. Dropbox’s migration will also allow it to move from a block storage model to object storage. This model for data storage offers benefits in automation and management of data storage, use of metadata, scalability, energy efficiency, and more — benefits not so readily available in a public cloud environment.

Data analysis and re-use is part of your long-term strategy. Your data will outlive the hardware it’s stored on and the applications accessing it. Do you want to pay to store information in a public cloud, or would you rather store it in-house to save on costs and leverage adaptive power conservation technology?

If you ignore the long-range needs of your organization, you are likely to end up with a storage architecture that limits keeping and using your data long-term. However, with the right solution for your company, your data store will long outlive your hardware and your applications. That data will be viable for re-use and analysis for decades to come.

Creating Your Own Cloud

Once you’ve decided it’s time to make a transition to a private cloud, you’ve already partially completed the first of these four steps:

1. Identify the use-case requirements. This is what brought you to the decision in the first place. Flesh it out, because your requirements play directly into step No. 2.

2. Consult a storage expert. Get help evaluating options from experienced storage system architects or value-added resellers with experience implementing private cloud storage for clients with use-case requirements similar to yours.

3. Do a proof-of-concept. Credible vendors will let you test the solution to ensure it works with your data center or across your distributed environments. Take advantage of this to ensure all issues are addressed before you commit to the new strategy.

If the vendor refuses, it may be a sign the product does not have the scale you need and that the company is not willing to commit engineering resources to assist you during your implementation.

4. Plan for growth. The market for public and private cloud storage is expected to more than triple between 2014 and 2019. Look for a solution that enables you to continuously evolve hardware while guaranteeing the integrity of data — allowing you to store massive amounts of data for decades.

The benefits of cloud storage are amplified by moving from a public to a private solution. Clearly visualizing your long-term business requirements and designing your storage to support those requirements are key to capitalizing on the growing cache of data under your control.

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Jonathan Ring is co-founder and CEO of Caringo, a leading scale-out storage provider. Prior to Caringo, Jonathan was an active angel investor advising a broad range of companies, and he was a vice president of engineering at Siebel Systems, where he was a member of the executive team that grew Siebel from $4 million to $2 billion in sales. Jonathan’s passion and experience is shaping the future of Caringo.

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