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Enterprise cloud storage boosted by Oracle Cloud Converged Storage

Hybrid cloud storage systems sound great in theory. So why has it taken vendors so long to produce one that's actually 'hybrid'?

True hybrid enterprise cloud storage systems promise the best of both on-premises infrastructure and public cloud. They offer the performance, security and governance of local storage necessary for many mission-critical business applications -- not to mention the on-demand elastic scalability and utility economics of public clouds.

But finding true hybrid cloud tools to support critical, enterprise-class, database-driven applications can be difficult. This gaping hole in the market has left enterprise IT pros and business application owners stuck on legacy infrastructures.

However, there has been significant progress. Oracle Cloud Converged Storage, released last month, integrates storage services across its database, enterprise applications, enterprise storage infrastructure and public cloud. Practically, its latest on-premises Oracle ZFS storage arrays internally and organically extend into public Oracle Cloud storage (which is also made up of ZFS storage arrays) -- no gateway integration or third-party software required.

Oracle Cloud Converged Storage looks like what many of us thought hybrid storage was supposed to look like. Yet, no high-performance, enterprise storage system has ever actually delivered a true native hybrid cloud capability. Why haven't other vendors, such as IBM and Dell EMC, offered hybrid cloud storage to leverage their enterprise storage and cloud tools? Those vendors require a hardware or software gateway to move data to the public cloud, unlike Oracle, which doesn't require one.

This failure to deliver what customers really want may be due to internal competition between legacy infrastructure and separately managed cloud divisions. Large storage vendors' revenue and profits have declined the past few years, due to factors such as the cloud, hyper-convergence and more software-defined products, a driving force behind Dell's EMC acquisition.

When enterprises want to evolve legacy architectures into modern hybrid storage, they simply don't want to deal with large bundles or bunches of parts and disparate cloud services that require integration. In a way, this is also about recognizing the market trend of how enterprises seek more convenient converged products in all their IT transformation projects.

True hybrid cloud storage should be simple to own and operate. Simplicity in IT inevitably leads to a lower total cost of ownership and lower risk, whereas complexity always increases implementation overhead, ongoing management costs and lowers service levels. While there are older approaches to hybridized storage services with external cloud gateway products, colocating private storage with public clouds (e.g., NetApp Private Storage) or accelerating data transfer (e.g., Attunity CloudBeam), these all add layers of technology and cause additional burdens to enterprises and database owners and operators.

Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance         

The Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance is based on Oracle's improved version of ZFS, originally inherited through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems and highly augmented over the years. It provides the high-performance, availability and enterprise features that IT looks for in production data center storage.

This latest release is inherently cloud-enabled, with native (and fully configurable) tiering to the public Oracle Cloud.

The Oracle Cloud is becoming quite popular with application owners and Oracle database administrators who find that it is a natural (and low-risk) public cloud option for Oracle database cloud services. Once storage appliances are brought into an enterprise, many IT storage domain admins find it attractive for general workloads too, offering better price and performance compared to aging legacy network-attached storage systems.

Removing the risk of hybrid cloud storage

There have also been absolute horror stories from enterprises that have tried to stitch together disparate on-premises storage, cloud gateways and general public cloud providers. The number of complex cross-vendor interactions, the amount of finger-pointing between vendors and the sheer frustration of trying to troubleshoot remote service interactions on a public cloud (with someone who isn't an expert on your exact workload) has kept many from leveraging hybrid cloud opportunities in general, much less for enterprise database-driven applications.

With Oracle Cloud Converged Storage, enterprises need only make one phone call to Oracle support to find and fix issues anywhere in the end-to-end hybrid platform.

Oracle Cloud Converged Storage is relatively low risk because Oracle's cloud storage is actually made up of Oracle ZFS Storage Appliances. So, the same storage that runs on customers' premises, runs in Oracle's public cloud. In fact, Oracle field tests all its beta storage releases in its own cloud first, at great scales that dwarf any individual enterprise (600 petabytes+ and growing fast). Not only does having the same physical storage on both sides of the hybrid cloud connection eliminate a whole raft of potential incompatibility issues, but problems that might arise become much simpler to solve.

For those seeking the benefits of true hybrid cloud storage, it's time to tell your storage vendor that you want fully cloud converged infrastructure, and not some complex amalgamation. 

Next Steps

The Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance

Oracle cloud aims to coexist with on premises

A hybrid push from Oracle

This was last published in May 2017

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