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Cloud storage is based on highly virtualized infrastructure and is like broader cloud computing in
terms of accessible interfaces, near-instant elasticity and scalability, multi-tenancy,
and metered resources. Cloud storage services can be utilized from an off-premises service
(Amazon S3) or deployed on-premises (ViON Capacity Services). [5]

Cloud storage typically refers to a hosted object storage service, but the term has broadened to
include other types of data storage that are now available as a service, like block storage.

Object storage services like Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure Storage, object storage software
like Openstack Swift, object storage systems like EMC Atmos, EMC ECS and Hitachi Content
Platform, and distributed storage research projects like OceanStore[6] and VISION Cloud[7] are all
examples of storage that can be hosted and deployed with cloud storage characteristics.

Cloud storage is:[6]

Made up of many distributed resources, but still acts as one often referred to as federated
storage clouds[8]

Highly fault tolerant through redundancy and distribution of data

Highly durable through the creation of versioned copies

Typically eventually consistent with regard to data replicas[9]

Companies need only pay for the storage they actually use, typically an average of
consumption during a month.[10] This does not mean that cloud storage is less expensive, only
that it incurs operating expenses rather than capital expenses.

Businesses using cloud storage can cut their energy consumption by up to 70% making
them a more green business.[11] Also at the vendor level they are dealing with higher levels of
energy so they will be more equipped with managing it in order to keep their own costs down as

Organizations can choose between off-premises and on-premises cloud storage options, or
a mixture of the two options, depending on relevant decision criteria that is complementary to
initial direct cost savings potential; for instance, continuity of operations (COOP), disaster
recovery (DR), security (PII, HIPAA, SARBOX, IA/CND), and records retention laws, regulations,
and policies.[12]

Storage availability and data protection is intrinsic to object storage architecture, so

depending on the application, the additional technology, effort and cost to add availability and
protection can be eliminated.[13]

Storage maintenance tasks, such as purchasing additional storage capacity, are offloaded to
the responsibility of a service provider.[10]

Cloud storage provides users with immediate access to a broad range of resources and
applications hosted in the infrastructure of another organization via a web service interface. [14]

Cloud storage can be used for copying virtual machine images from the cloud to on-
premises locations or to import a virtual machine image from an on-premises location to the
cloud image library. In addition, cloud storage can be used to move virtual machine images
between user accounts or between data centers. [15]

Cloud storage can be used as natural disaster proof backup, as normally there are 2 or 3
different backup servers located in different places around the globe.[16]



The best storage area network design for

your customers will take into consideration
a number of critical issues: uptime needs,
scalability, security and disaster recovery.
Find out how each of these factors will
influence storage area network design
Storage area networks (SANs) let several servers share storage resources
and are often used in situations that require high performance or shared
storage with block-level access, like virtualized servers and clustered
databases. Although SANs started out as a high-end technology used only in
large enterprises, cheaper SANs are now affordable even for small and
medium-sized businesses (SMBs). In earlier installments of this Hot Spot
Tutorial, we examined what benefits SANs offer over other storage
architectural choices, as well as the two main storage networking
protocols,Fibre Channel and iSCSI. In this installment, we'll look at the main
considerations you should keep in mind when putting together a storage area
network design.

Uptime and availability

Because several servers will rely on a SAN for all of their data, it's important to
make the system very reliable and eliminate any single points of failure, said
Paul Franco, executive vice president at Zibiz Data Management, a
Ronkonkoma, N.Y., storage consultancy. Most SAN hardware vendors offer
redundancy within each unit -- like dual power supplies, internal controllers
and emergency batteries -- but you should make sure that redundancy
extends all the way to the server, Franco said.

In a typical storage area network design, each storage device connects to a

switch that then connects to the servers that need to access the data. To
make sure this path isn't a point of failure, your client should buy two switches
for the SAN network. Each storage unit should connect to both switches, as
should each server. If either path fails, software can fail over to the other.
Some programs will handle that failover automatically, but cheaper software
may require you to enable the failover manually, Franco said. You can also
configure the program to use both paths if they're available, for load balancing.

But you should also consider how the drives themselves are configured,
Franco said. RAID technology spreads data among several disks -- a
technique called striping -- and can add parity checks so that if any one disk
fails, its content can be rebuilt from the others. There are several types of
RAID, but the most common in SAN designs are levels 5, 6 and 1+0, Franco


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RAID 5 stripes data across every disk in the unit except one, which is used to
store parity information that can be used to rebuild any drive that needs to be
replaced. RAID 6 adds a second disk for redundant parity. This protects your
client's data in case a second drive breaks during the first disk's rebuild, which
can take up to 24 hours for a terabyte, Franco said. RAID 1+0 stripes data
across a series of disks without any parity checks, which is very fast, but
mirrors each of those disks to a second set of striped disks for redundancy.

Capacity and scalability

A good storage area network design should not only accommodate your
client's current storage needs, but it should also be scalable so that your client
can upgrade the SAN as needed throughout the expected lifespan of the
system. You should consider how scalable the SAN is in terms of storage
capacity, number of devices it supports and speed, said Greg Schulz, founder
and senior analyst with The StorageIO Group, a Stillwater, Minn., consulting

Because a SAN's switch connects storage devices on one side and servers on
the other, its number of ports can affect both storage capacity and speed,
Schulz said. By allowing enough ports to support multiple, simultaneous
connections to each server, switches can multiply the bandwidth to servers.
On the storage device side, you should make sure you have enough ports for
redundant connections to existing storage units, as well as units your client
may want to add later.

One feature of storage area network design that you should consider is thin
provisioning of storage. Thin provisioning tricks servers into thinking a given
volume within a SAN, known as a logical unit number (LUN), has more space
than it physically does. For instance, an operating system (OS) that connects
to a given LUN may think the LUN is 2 TB, even though you have only
allocated 250 GB of physical storage for it, Schulz said.

Thin provisioning allows you to plan for future growth without your client
having to buy all of its expected storage hardware up front. In a typical "fat
provisioning" model, each LUN's capacity corresponds to physical storage.
That means that your client will have to buy as much space as it anticipates
needing for the next few years, Schulz said. While it's possible to allocate a
smaller amount of space for now and transfer its data to a larger provision as
needed, that process is slow and could result in downtime for your client.

Thin provisioning allows you to essentially overbook a SAN's storage,

promising a total capacity to the LUNs that is greater than the SAN physically
has. As those LUNs fill up and start to reach the system's physical capacity,
you can add more units to the SAN -- often in a hot-swappable way, Franco
said. But because this approach to storage area network design requires more
maintenance down the road, it's best for stable environments where a client
can fairly accurately predict how each LUN's storage needs will grow, Schulz


With several servers able to share the same physical hardware, it should be
no surprise that security plays an important role in a storage area network
design. Your client will want to know that servers can only access data if
they're specifically allowed to. If your client is using iSCSI, which runs on a
standard Ethernet network, it's also crucial to make sure outside parties won't
be able to hack into the network and have raw access to the SAN.

Most of this security work is done at the SAN's switch level, Franco
said.Zoning allows you to give only specific servers access to certain LUNs,
much as a firewall allows communication on specific ports for a given IP
address. If any outward-facing application needs to access the SAN, like a
website, you should configure the switch so that only that server's IP address
can access it, Franco said.

If your client is using virtual servers, the storage area network design will also
need to make sure that each virtual machine (VM) has access only to its
LUNs, Schulz said. Virtualization complicates SAN security because you
cannot limit access to LUNs by physical controllers anymore -- a given
controller on a physical server may now be working for several VMs, each with
its own permissions. To restrict each server to only its LUNs, set up a virtual
adapter for each virtual server. This will let your physical adapter present itself
as a different adapter for each VM, with access to only those LUNs that the
virtualized server should see.

Replication and disaster recovery

With so much data stored on a SAN, your client will likely want you to build
disaster recovery into the system. SANs can be set up to automatically mirror
data to another site, which could be a failsafe SAN a few meters away or
a disaster recovery (DR) site hundreds or thousands of miles away.

If your client wants to build mirroring into the storage area network design, one
of the first considerations is whether to replicate synchronously or
asynchronously. Synchronous mirroring means that as data is written to the
primary SAN, each change is sent to the secondary and must be
acknowledged before the next write can happen.

While this ensures that both SANs are true mirrors, synchronization introduces
a bottleneck. If the secondary site has a latency as high as even 100 to 200
milliseconds (msec), your system will slow down as the primary SAN has to
wait for each confirmation, Schulz said. Although there are other factors,
latency is often related to distance; synchronous replication is generally
possible up to about 6 miles, Franco said.

The alternative is to asynchronously mirror changes to the secondary site. You

can configure this replication to happen as quickly as every second, or every
few minutes or hours, Schulz said. While this means that your client could
permanently lose some data, if the primary SAN goes down before it has a
chance to copy its data to the secondary, your client should makecalculations
based on its recovery point objective (RPO) to determine how often it needs to