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Lori MacVittie

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F5 Friday: F5 ARX Cloud Extender Opens Cloud Storage

Bridging the gap between data access and cloud storage to enable a critical storage strategy: tiering.

There’s a disconnect between the way in which we access files and the way in which cloud storage providers are offering us access to files stored “in the cloud”. We use well-established file system access methods – CIFS, SMB, NFS – while they provide access via web-based standards, a la HTTP, SOAP, etc…

That means it is difficult to actually leverage cloud storage services directly. There’s a gap between implementations that needs to be addressed if we’re going to leverage cloud storage in ways that make sense, for example as part of a larger storage tiering strategy. Such a strategy is increasingly important and storage tiering was recently identified at the Gartner Data Center conference as one of the “next big things”

twitterbird#GartnerDC Major IT Trend #2 is: 'Big Data - The Elephant in the Room'. Growth 800% over next 5 years - w/80% unstructured. Tiering critical

@ZimmerHDS Harry Zimmer

To enable tiering to a cloud storage service, however, requires some kind of intermediary that bridges the gap between traditional access protocols and cloud access protocols. F5 announced just such a solution with its ARX Cloud Extender. I’ll let our resident storage expert, Don MacVittie, fill you in on the details.

Happy Tiering!


don_2010

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m a fan of Cloud Storage Gateways. What ever possessed cloud storage vendors to implement an interface that is utterly foreign to the systems that their target market uses escapes me. As I said on Cloudchasers, Cloud Storage Gateways make Cloud Storage into Useful Storage. And though I have repeatedly said I don’t have a dog in this race, it turns out that now I do.

F5 has released ARX Cloud Extender, a set of products that allow you to access cloud services as if they were local NAS devices, and that work with certified partners’ Cloud Storage Gateways to increase the benefits of these applications.

That means if you have an ARX in place to virtualize your file systems, now that virtualization is extended to “the cloud tier”. Different customers are using cloud storage in different ways, with most using it for backup and archival storage, but some actually using it as primary storage. And of course there are some in-between. ACE allows you to make the jump to cloud storage in a controlled manner, writing rules to determine which files are migrated to the cloud and how they are migrated, all while making it appear that they are on your local systems. This is huge if you need to be able to see your archival data, but don’t want to spend your expensive local disk storing little-used files.

You now have tiering, capacity planning, file/directory replication, and file migration extended to the “Cloud Tier”. With support for other vendor’s cloud storage gateways, you can choose the architecture that best suits your enterprise’s needs and bridge the gap between pay up-front and pay as you go storage.

In short, you can set up rules in your ARX to shuffle files from tier one to tier two as your organization’s needs decrease, and then eventually off to the Cloud tier for long-term storage. Then, should the file see more frequent access, rules can automatically move it right back out to tier two and on to tier one. If your needs are different, the rules can behave differently. It’s all in what works best for you, and how your organization wishes to use Cloud Storage.

So check it out, chances are that your organization is ready to take advantage of cloud computing , but even if not, ARX is still a primo file virtualization engine to help you keep your unstructured data under control.


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Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.