New Zealand’s geographic isolation means local cloud users face unique problems. Ideally cloud services run as if there’s a server in the next room. That’s fine when the data centre hosting your services are a few clicks down the road. It is another matter entirely when there’s 10,000 km of submarine cable between you and your application or data.
Which is why Microsoft server specialist Bradley Borrows says there’s plenty of local interest in StorSimple. Borrows says blue chip New Zealand clients like Provoke, Datacom and Intergen are testing the cloud appliance which looks as if it were tailor-made for this country.
StorSimple appliances cleverly bridge the gap between traditional hardware storage and the cloud. Put simply, the appliance can look to a system operator just like an everyday San. It can collect and store data like any other storage device.
The difference is that connects to the cloud. It can then send less important data to low-cost cloud archive storage, then retrieve data when or if they are needed again. From the system it looks just like another local resource. StorSimple devices come with a raft of built-in security features. Data is automatically encrypted while back-up and recovery tools offer insurance against everything goes pear-shaped.
More about Azure than NZ
Serving the remote cloud access needs of New Zealand companies wasn’t Microsoft’s key reason for acquiring StorSimple in 2012, we’re an extreme case. At the time it was clear the software giant wanted to add something special to its Azure cloud service to help users store, manage and archive data. It also integrates neatly with companies’ existing infrastructure investments.
All of which is just what New Zealand organisations need when they connect to distant, remote cloud services. The kind of bulk storage used for less important archives is a commodity, users like to pay the lowest price and that means shopping worldwide for cheap back-up deals.
Burrows says the StorSimple appliance handles everything. He says: “It manages all the cacheing and latency”. If the network goes down there are terabytes of onboard storage to take the load, transfers can resume once the network is restored.
StorSimple fills a niche
For most users StorSimple fills a specific niche. Burrows says users tend to avoid the cloud with tier 1 data because there’s too much reading and writing going on.
Likewise, Microsoft is avoiding the transactional market with StorSimple. Instead the appliance comes into its own when you get to tier 2, applications like Sharepoint or archiving email. He says: “It’s best when you write and read a few times”. Lower down at tier three there are products like Amazon’s Glacier which is mainly write once, read rarely, if at all.
Burrows says StorSimple allows companies to use boolean logic to decide where data is stored. It asks, is this for Sharepoint? OK, we’ll send that to the cloud. We’re going to need this data again soon? We’ll keep that here.
He says this approach is very cost-effective, companies can make use of bulk back-up services where storage costs only cents per GB, they can also make better use of the communications links.