Cloud Computing - Answering The Need for Storage Best Practices

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“We are on the brink of an economic transformation and it is happening on a huge scale, all by itself, and we cannot even see it. It’s being dubbed the digital economy and by 2025 it will be the same size as the 1995 physical economy. In two to three decades, it will surpass the physical economy in size.”1

This economic transformation could be largely attributed to mobility, the consumerization of IT, and thus, the meteoric growth of the cloud. According to Gartner and IDC, by 2015, two-thirds of compute devices will be smartphones and media tablets, which are already driving the demand for storage in the cloud (Figure 1). To put this into perspective, in 2010, 62% of data storage was shipped into the client market. Seagate projects that by 2020, data storage will dramatically shift to the cloud, accounting for 61% of all data, and two-thirds of that data will be in personal clouds. Such a transformation in a relatively short period of time is placing increased pressure on storage systems. The days of managing a company’s storage solely in terms of performance and reliability are over. Today, and for the foreseeable future, storage must address not only performance and reliability, but also uncontrollable data growth, differing workloads, and ever-growing customer demand for content.

Figure 1. Mobile device growth 

Uncontrollable Data Growth

The advent of cloud computing marked the beginning of this global transformation in how data is created, shared, stored and archived no matter the user. Data is being created almost automatically, uncontrollably. From global financial institutions to small businesses, to everyday consumers, data via the cloud will touch each and every one of us on a daily, hourly and even real-time basis. To accommodate such data growth and capacity demand, cloud platfroms are emerging everywhere. From traditional corporate private clouds and new public clouds, to Telco and content delivery networks (CDNs), to personal clouds we have in our homes and mobile clouds we take with us wherever we go, the demand for storage capacity continues to grow.

In 2011, it is estimated that enterprise HDD capacity demand alone for both public and private cloud services accounts for 13.7 exabytes of the 58.6 exabytes of total enterprise compute (EC) capacity shipped. That is 23% today, and it is expected to nearly triple in the next 10 years2 (Figure 2).

Figure 2. HDD Capacity demand for private and public clouds

The cloud is not purely an enterprise play. Another major factor is the rise of personal clouds. Gartner stated in a recent webinar, “This is not the post-PC era. The PC will be alive and well, but the personal cloud will replace the PC as the location where users access their content. Users are synchronizing across multiple connected devices and we’re already seeing people interact with cloud services.”3 The growth of networkable home storage and the introduction of wireless storage enable consumers to, in essence, create their own personal clouds. Mobile applications for Apple iOS and Android devices provide the capability for consumers to access their content libraries storage from virtually anywhere. This shows no sign of slowing, and consumer demand for storage capacity continues to rise.

As more people access their content via the cloud and more businesses run applications and store data in the cloud, not only does the demand for capacity increase, but so does the expectation on performance.

Differing Workloads

Given that the cloud comprises 23% of the total enterprise capacity demand today, and will exceed 60% by 2020, it is imperative that technology component providers, and thus systems suppliers, design solutions with the cloud in mind. Seagate is no different. Having the widest breadth of product affords Seagate the opportunity to optimize existing consumer, business, and enterprise products and solutions while also investing in new and exciting technologies for the cloud. Through leveraging decades of experience in storage, Seagate aims to make the cloud central to its evolving portfolio of products.

In addition to the utilization of the cloud for storage, the growth of cloud computing-as-a-service—whether it be infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS) or software (SaaS)—is driving demand for additional storage features beyond capacity. Equally as important is how well the storage performs relative to delivering applications via the cloud. For example, solutions like desktop virtualization enable true desktop-level compute via the cloud. Instead of running applications at the device level, desktop virtualization allows applications to run on any Internet-enabled device, anywhere and at any time. This alone will drive the need for greater input output per second (IOPS), and thus, higher-performance storage.

There are many other usage models that will drive the need for greater storage IOPS. From research and analytics applications (big data) to database applications (like CRM) to management applications (like ERP), deploying cloud-based as-a-service models will ultimately drive not only demand for capacity, but also performance, and thus workloads.

Seagate Investment in the Cloud

Seagate is addressing growing customer demands via close relationships with a new breed of customers. Understanding the varying cloud solution types (public, private, hybrid, personal, mobile), cloud provider types (content depot, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and the developing ecosystem of partner investments in enabling the cloud, Seagate sees an opportunity to drive best practices in storage implementations for the cloud.

In addition, IDC recently summed up the five information requirements driving cloud storage demand:2

  1. Enabling efficient delivery of information
  2. Reducing information infrastructure deployment costs
  3. Minimizing costs associated with unpredictable information workloads
  4. Lowering the costs of long-term information archive
  5. Simplifying real-time analysis of information (big data)

Collectively, these five requirements impact what storage is used when and to what benefit to the cloud service provider. They are not mutually exclusive. When selecting the right storage for a cloud application or set of applications, one must take into account how it can potentially impact the set of business requirements.

Choosing between solid state drives (SSDs), solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs), various hard disk drives (HDDs), wireless hard disk drives, direct attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS) or a combination of storage types directly impacts not only the performance of the application, but also the ability for customers to meet a wider set of requirements. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to the cloud. Working closely with partners and customers, Seagate is focused on establishing the best practices and recipes for achieving the right mix of capacity and performance for delivering cloud services to customers

Equally as important is the ability to offer solutions that eliminate complexity while delivering a significantly improved, yet very familiar, experience. Facebook is one example with their open compute platform, which shares best practices on cloud infrastructure and design. Best practices that ultimately reduce complexity, and cost. When it comes to cloud service providers, the infrastructure is the revenue-generating vehicle, one that cannot afford increasing costs or disruption to their service. Taking a page out of the Facebook strategy, Seagate aims to help cloud service providers meet their business requirements, while delivering a significantly improved, yet familiar experience for businesses and consumers.

Seagate’s view of the cloud is not product-centric. It’s customer and use-case-centric. Expect more from Seagate in the future that delivers on this promise.


  1. McKinsey Quarterly, The Second Economy, W. Brian Arthur, October 2011
  2. IDC Worldwide Enterprise Storage for Public and Private Cloud 2011-2015 Forecast: Enabling Public Cloud Service Providers and Private Clouds, September 2011, and Seagate LLC Projections
  3. Gartner webinar, iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds, October 27, 2011

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