The benefits of private cloud for your data storage environment
We speak to Infinidat’s new CEO Phil Bullinger about the changing face of cloud storage
The importance of cloud infrastructure to offer flexible storage and computing anywhere and anytime has been well established over recent years, and even more firmly cemented by the disruption caused by the pandemic, which has led to significantly dispersed working practices across the board. We’ve all become very familiar with the big public cloud providers, promising easy scalability and flexibility.
But private cloud offerings are also booming and deliver many advantages in terms of performance and security that are more valuable than ever against the backdrop of recent global events and the need to future proof your organisation. We spoke to Phil Bullinger, who has over 30 years of experience in enterprise data storage and became CEO of enterprise-class storage solutions provider Infinidat in January 2021, about the benefits of private cloud storage in our fast-changing world.
The rewards of private cloud
Whereas public cloud leverages large-scale public service providers for compute and storage – resources which your organisation will share with other companies – the private cloud model gives your company a dedicated environment based either within your own data centre or within a service provider's data centre, allowing for complete control over those resources.
“Of the things that companies look for when they invest in private clouds, operational predictability is key,” says Bullinger. “They can uniquely tune the resources to deliver the performance, the availability, the latency that companies need, and it gives them a very predictable financial environment, whether they choose to pay for the infrastructure upfront in a traditional capital expense structure or like a public cloud, from an operating expense point of view. This flexibility also extends into being able, with almost limitless ability, to tailor those resources to exactly what the business needs.” One of the issues with public cloud is the amount of data your company may have to move over the internet. With private cloud, the resources can be based closer to where they’re needed to reduce latency, improve performance, and minimise networking costs.
The pandemic changed the playing field for businesses in practically every industry and market, forcing many companies to rapidly institute digital transformation to keep up. “There certainly was a slowdown in the global economy, and it constrained a portion of enterprise investment,” says Bullinger. “We saw projects ready to go a year ago being put on hold because of the uncertainty. However, I think more than offsetting that was this profound acceleration in the digital business models and the digital transformations companies were going through. They realised in order to be competitive, to not only thrive but even to survive in the digital economy - accelerated because of the pandemic - they had to accelerate their own pace of digital transformation. And within this, there were rapidly expanding data storage requirements.
“That’s why we seek to continually innovate our offerings – for example our brand new InfiniBox SSA, powered by deep learning software algorithms and extensive DRAM cache, consistently delivers performance and latency results that surpass all-flash arrays. All this while still providing our acclaimed customer experience, 100 percent availability, and uncompromising reliability - it takes the groundbreaking performance of our solution to the next level. A huge tenet of digital transformation is just being able to operate across larger data sets and make faster, more insightful decisions regarding products and services and how you engage customers. So, these things all drove an investment cycle for enterprise storage.
“You know the old adage, ‘meet adversity head on?” he continues. “I think the data storage industry really embodied this notion, as companies were forced to re-evaluate their operational efficiency and their digital capabilities. There is an impetus for projects worldwide including the UK focused on storage consolidation and the storage infrastructure behind digital transformation. We see companies now aggressively moving to scale their operations, improve their efficiency and transform their business models. At Infinidat, we expect 2021 to be a strong growth year.”
2020 saw a spike in cyber-crime, with Canalys reporting that data breaches between March 2020 and March 2021 led to more records being compromised than in the previous 15 years combined. “I think most companies realise they need to be prepared for the ongoing threat of ransomware attacks,” says Bullinger. “Some of the recent IDC numbers estimate that the cost of ransomware attacks this year is going to top $20 billion. The impacts and damages related to cyber-crime, which extend far beyond just the ransom paid, is going to be in the trillions, maybe as much as $6 trillion.”
While all cloud environments require robust antivirus and firewall protection, private cloud operates in a closed environment, which can be more rigidly controlled and monitored. You can access a private cloud over private and secure network links, with tools available to provide greater levels of authentication and API-enabled protection, rather than using the public internet as with the public cloud. Service providers offering hosted private clouds can also help your organisation to maintain compliance. It is essential in this era of increasingly rigid privacy laws and regulations.
Faced with the ever-growing threat of ransomware and other cyber-attacks, the security tools available to protect your cloud infrastructure continue to evolve. For example, Infinidat has invested in immutable snapshot technology, which is available to organisations through its InfiniGuard backup and restore feature. “Infinidat’s snapshot technology is near instantaneous and has zero performance impact on your storage,” says Bullinger. “Our customers can take tens of thousands of snapshots of their data without any performance impact, and we can guarantee that they're immutable. The data can't be changed. So, they're impervious to malicious software that would want to encrypt that data, and then hold it for ransom. While our customers absolutely should be investing in multiple software layers to provide lines of defence against malicious software, the layer you have to have the most confidence in is the storage layer. We give our customers the almost instantaneous ability to recover from a ransomware attack – they can repoint their applications to snapshots of the data that they trust and know are clean, with confidence they have not been altered, and most importantly can't be altered.”
Transformation and consolidation
Making the switch to a private cloud infrastructure part of your business transformation initiative offers the opportunity to consolidate your various applications, workloads and end users into a single storage platform. “Consolidation drives efficiency and economies of scale reducing administrative and management overhead as well as allowing sharing of data between applications in a much more fluid manner,” says Bullinger. “Storage consolidation is a big driver of private cloud architectures and certainly Infinidat's strength is in those areas. Petabyte scalability and operational efficiency are critical characteristics. Of course, if you’re going to be consolidating a lot of users on applications into a single platform, you've got to assure non-stop operation, 100% uptime, availability guarantees and low administrative overhead, which we do with our product.”
While flexibility is more closely associated with the public cloud, private cloud storage providers like Infinidat can offer flexible and scalable solutions tailored to your business needs. “Required today in the market are very flexible economic and consumption models for the product, whether the customer wants to purchase it all up front, or they want to pay for it over time, or they just want to licence on a month-to-month basis for the storage they use,” says Bullinger. “Here at Infinidat, we have very flexible economic models that support all of those implementations.”
An example of a successful consolidation is Pulsant. A colocation cloud infrastructure provider in the UK with more than 10 regional data centres, Pulsant partnered with Infinidat to consolidate the multiple storage platforms it was using into one private cloud infrastructure. “[Using multiple platforms] led to greater administration overhead, less efficient data centre floor space, inconsistent performance, and more challenge in terms of delivering a consistent experience to customers across all those platforms,” says Bullinger. “With the move to Infinidat, they were able to consolidate a lot of legacy storage infrastructure into our product. This had a big impact on their simplicity of management – they didn't have to tune these products all the time, as our products automatically and intelligently adapt to changing workloads. We provided them a very compelling total customer ownership position, which in turn allows them to deliver a more competitive business model as well.”
Private cloud storage will be a powerful tool for many organisations looking to rebuild and strengthen their infrastructure after the pandemic, while also future proofing against the possibility of similar disruption in the coming years and decades. “Agility and operational efficiency are going to be very important going forward,” says Bullinger. “The environment is anything but static in the world today. Almost every business in every vertical market is seeing disruption for themselves or their competitors. And at the heart of this disruption is data. Our customers require the ability to scale seamlessly in a very agile way around data. This ability to consolidate and coalesce larger pools of data together, allows them to make better decisions around products and services and how they ultimately connect with customers. For companies to succeed, [they need to consider] operational efficiency, total cost of ownership and their ability to manage these increased data loads with lower administrative costs. Defending against increasingly malicious attacks with ransomware and all the threats that come in tandem are critical, as is the ability to tailor those storage resources to the unique requirements of their business.”
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