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Where Does Your Data Go in a Hybrid Cloud?

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Let’s start with clearing the air about the wisdom of storing critical data in the cloud.

When discussion turns to cloud data storage as part of a hybrid cloud strategy, questions arise regarding security, availability, compliance or performance, and the cloud vendors’ long-term viability is even called into question.

For as far as our industry has progressed, innovated and expanded (albeit unevenly), there’s tremendous reluctance to let go of this narrow perception of storage in the cloud.  It would be foolish to suggest that security, compliance and the rest should not be taken seriously when creating a hybrid cloud strategy. It’s equally foolish, however, to paint all cloud providers with the same bland color of questionable competence.

On-premise data storage is not the singular solution for keeping, accessing and protecting critical data in a hybrid cloud infrastructure.  Clearly mega cloud providers may not be the best choice; only recently have they made their first tentative steps in this direction. However, other providers – Peak 10 being a leading example – have embraced security, compliance and performance as core competencies with a track record to prove it.

If you concur or are at least willing to give the benefit of the doubt, then your options for hybrid cloud data storage are far broader and more flexible and adaptable. You may still decide that on-premise is the best place for your critical data – you wouldn’t be alone – but it’s not the only place, and your storage-requirements profile is certain to change over time.

So, What Data Go Where?

The first question really should be, “So, what data do I have?” For that answer you’ll have to begin by asking business users of the data what their expectations and requirements are. Designing a data storage strategy without clearly understanding their needs would be like assembling a jungle gym in the dark.

What other characteristics do the data have? Frequently accessed data, data required for e-discovery, or files with tight recovery point objectives will be treated differently than data farther along in their lifecycles.

Another “value” metric for data is the consequence of loss, theft or mishandling. Data subject to industry or government regulation, or corporate intellectual property or proprietary information in the wrong hands are also important considerations when choosing one storage solution versus another. For some, this will be the most important determinant.

Most data repositories will have a minimum of two copies, notes Ken Seitz, Peak 10 director of product strategy. “Data worth having is worth duplicating … for back up, disaster recovery or long-term storage, for example. Development, staging and quality assurance are other possibilities. The cost per gigabyte of production data can have a surprising number of multiples.”

All this is essential for classifying your data. As we’ve heard so many times, not all data are created equal. We know this intuitively but, when trying to select the most cost-effective and data-appropriate storage options, you need facts.

Once you have ascertained the workloads and performance characteristics and their relevance and value to the business then you’re better prepared to make decisions about appropriate storage platforms to achieve greater cost efficiencies and business alignment.

Data will typically fall into one of two big buckets: performance or archiving. Each bucket is compartmentalized with many options that let you finely tune storage characteristics and methods. Where the information is stored will come down to a number of key factors including information cost, need for encryption, required retention periods, quality or integrity of data, whether it’s business or personal data, or whether it is business-critical, among others.

Data that needs to be readily available – databases or highly transactional data, for example – are kept on high-performance storage. Production data, where operating system volumes and general purpose applications and data sit, may also require performance storage but of a more affordable nature. Data with flexible retrieval parameters or destined for long-term storage can use even less expensive options. Data subject to regulatory compliance – HIPAA, PCI DSS, Sarbanes Oxley, and numerous others – must be stored according to the specifications of the governing body at a minimum.

Businesses should continually review their data to keep it in the correct storage tier, moving it from expensive high-performance storage to cheaper online or offline storage archiving over time, or as situations change.

The hybrid cloud infrastructure can easily support a dynamic, ever-changing, and relentlessly growing data storage environment. Storing all your data exclusively on-premise may put you at ease, but it would not be easy, cost-effective, or offer the flexibility to scale and adjust on the fly. The best situation is a system that operates at peak efficiency for users while still maintaining appropriate storage levels according the data-classification requirements and keeping costs manageable.

As With Data, Datacenters are Not Created Equal

Partners with whom a company does business says a lot about the character of that company, as well as the quality of its services. When it comes to infrastructure and storage, Cisco and EMC set the standard others aspire to achieve. Peak 10 builds its data centers and cloud infrastructures around products from these technology partners, as well as a select number of others who provide critical components across our services portfolio.

Having these proper tools is critical. Operating and maintaining them according to best practices and in a manner consistent with security and regulatory compliance is a decision Peak 10 made long before it became fashionable in the industry.  The company’s compliance program is second to none, and exercised daily to keep it that way.

Whether your business is financial services or healthcare, PCI-reliant or involves handling of government data, or subject to data-privacy obligations imposed by the European Union, Peak 10 stands audit-ready to be a key part of your hybrid cloud and data storage strategies.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest