What is holding back private cloud storage?


Well, it would be hard to make a case for Object-Based Storage (OBS) if it wasn't lower in cost than traditional SAN and NAS storage, extremely scalable, and able to provide high levels of data durability.  Features like metadata search, storage policies, and support for legacy data access protocols like NFS, SMB, and FTP are available from most OBS vendors. To the list of good OBS features to have, you can add data deduplication, data compression, data encryption, and data tiering from private OBS to public OBS providers.

To help grow the market for private OBS, vendors are focusing on ease of deployment and management.  These consumability factors are important because an OBS cluster does not require weeks to make it operational nor does it require someone with years of experience as a storage administrator to manage it.  

OBS software vendors have partnered with storage hardware vendors like Dell, HPE, Lenovo, QCT, and Supermicro to offer fully supported OBS cluster deployments. Some OBS software vendors also provide private label storage appliances for a turnkey customer experience.

It appears that the only thing commercial OBS software vendors lack are lots of customers.  Why is it taking so long for organizations to embrace OBS as the new platform for storing their unstructured data?  The question is apropos because many organizations already entrust some of their unstructured data to public OBS providers like AWS, Google, and Microsoft.  So why are they hesitant to do it themselves?

The answer to the question is traditional data storage is conservative by nature.  It is traditional because it has been around a long time. Storage is more conservative than application development. When an application "crashes" people just re-launch it.  If the problem is bad enough, there will be an update or fix released for it.  If your traditional storage system fails to perform there is widespread panic in the organization because data becomes unavailable.  

Traditional storage systems are engineered to provide high levels of performance and durability, but this comes at a cost that is getting harder to justify in an era of continuous data growth. Scalability is the Achilles heel of traditional storage systems. Scaling up traditional storage is expensive. Expanding or upgrading traditional storage systems to keep pace with data growth is financially unsustainable. Traditional storage systems are no longer appropriate for meeting today's need for unstructured data storage.

So why haven't IT departments built or bought OBS clusters to solve their data storage pain points?  The answer is FUD, which stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  OBS can make IT professionals fearful because it is relatively new, which creates uncertainty about using it, and doubt about the benefits of switching to it from traditional storage.

In addition to the FUD factor, the psychology of previous investments in traditional storage has habituated decision-making to what has worked in the past.  It is understandable, but as a practical matter the demands organizations are making on their data, and the growing amount of data needing storage will force the change from traditional storage to OBS.

OBS is a foundation technology for new storage architectures.  OBS is extremely scalable, uses RESTful APIs for application support, and provides high levels of data durability.  OBS also represents storage simplification as opposed to the complexity of managing traditional data storage systems.

New storage architectures require new knowledge and experience.  The lack of both is holding back OBS deployments in organizations. It is the reason commercial OBS vendors number their customers in the hundreds and not thousands. Commercial OBS vendors need to "bust a move" and get their software in the hands of people who need to know about it but are not yet planning OBS deployments in their organizations. 

Traditional storage was suited for a predictable and stable storage environment. The growth in unstructured data triggered a seismic shift in the requirements for data storage. There is a tsunami of data washing over many organizations.  Organizations can either drown in their increasing volume of unstructured data or learn to swim in it by deploying OBS solutions for smarter and more flexible data management.

Resisting OBS is not a viable data management strategy. But jumping into OBS deployment without some knowledge and experience is unwise.  Organizations need to learn to swim by starting in the shallow end of the OBS data pool.  Start small with a Proof-of-Concept (POC) that addresses one of your data storage pain points. Learn how to use OBS to solve a data storage problem. The experience and confidence gained from a successful OBS deployment will make it easy to identify other use cases for OBS in your organization.

There are hundreds of applications and data management solutions available in the OBS ecosystem. MonadCloud can work with you to leverage the OBS ecosystem so you can do smarter data management and meet your data storage requirements in a cost-efficient manner.  You can do this.  MonadCloud and Cloudian can help.