Zadara Blog

News, information, opinion and commentary on issues affecting enterprise data storage and management.

Bring Cold Object Storage to Your Private Cloud

In today’s computing environment, more and more companies are beginning to work with massive datasets, ranging into the hundreds of petabytes and beyond. Whether it’s big data analytics, high-definition video, or internet-of-things applications, the necessity for companies to handle large amounts of data in their daily operations continues to grow.

Historically, enterprises have managed their data as a hierarchy of files. But this approach is simply inadequate for efficiently handling the huge datasets that are becoming more and more common today. For example, public cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, that must service many thousands of users simultaneously, would quickly become intolerably unresponsive if every user data request meant having to traverse the folders and subfolders of multiple directory trees to find and collect the information needed for a response.

That’s why modern public cloud platforms, and other users of big data, use object storage in place of older file systems. And as the use of private clouds grows, they too are employing object storage to meet the challenges of efficiently handling large amounts of data.

big data word cloud

What Is Object Storage?

With object storage, there is no directory tree or folders. Instead, there is a flat global namespace that allows each unit of stored data, called an object, to be directly addressed.

Each object contains not only data, but also metadata that describes the data, and a global ID number that uniquely identifies that object. This allows every object in the storage system, no matter where it might be physically stored, to be quickly retrieved simply by providing its unique identifier.

Why Object Storage is Well Suited To Private Clouds

When it comes to handling massive datasets in a cloud environment, object storage has a number of unique advantages. Let’s take a look at some of these:

  • It’s infinitely scalable. Because of its flat namespace, an object storage system can theoretically be scaled without limitation simply by adding objects, each with its own unique ID.
  • Metadata makes searching easy. The metadata that accompanies each object provides critical information about the object’s data, making it easy to search for and retrieve needed data quickly and efficiently without having to analyze the data itself.
  • It’s highly robust and reliable. The VPSA Object Storage differs from a traditional RAID redundant storage using a distributed “Ring” topology policy under the hood.  Zadara Object store allows for a 2-way or 3-way replication as options which the customers can choose at creation time. By the use of erasure coding (instead of RAID) to achieve continuous and efficient replication of data across multiple nodes, an object storage system automatically backs data up, and can quickly rebuild data that is destroyed or corrupted. Nodes can be added or removed at will, and the system uses Swift’s underlying Ring replication to ensure that new objects are incorporated, or removed ones are rebuilt, automatically and transparently.
  • It simplifies storage management. The metadata of an object can contain as much (or as little) information about the data as desired. For example, it could specify where the object is to be stored, which applications will use it, the date when it should be deleted, or what level of data security is required. Having this degree of detail available for every object allows much of the data management task to be automated in software.
  • It lowers costs. Object storage systems don’t require expensive specialized storage appliances, but are designed for use with low-cost commodity disk drives.

storage arrays in cloud

Zadara VPSA Object Storage

Zadara offers an object storage solution that incorporates all the advantages discussed above, and then some. VPSA Object Storage is specifically designed for use with private as well as public clouds. It is especially suited to storing relatively static data such as big data or multimedia files, or for archiving data of any type. VPSA Object Storage provides anytime, anywhere, any-device remote access (with appropriate access controls) via HTTP.

The VPSA Object Storage solution, which is Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift compatible, features frequent, incremental, snapshot-based, automatic data backup to object-based storage, eliminating the need to have separate backup software running on the host.

If you would like to explore how Zadara VPSA Object Storage can help boost your company’s private cloud, please contact us.

October 10, 2017

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Challenges MSPs Face as Customers Move to the Cloud

The face of the MSP (managed IT services provider) marketplace is changing rapidly. Not so long ago the keys to success for most MSPs revolved around recommending or selling the newest and best hardware and software products to their customers. But as more and more companies migrate to the cloud, that approach is no longer adequate.

The Cloud’s XaaS Model Changes Everything for MSPs

Perhaps the most important feature of the cloud model is that it allows customers to meet many, if not all, of their IT requirements by making use of pay-as-you-go services offered by cloud providers. This “anything as a service” (XaaS) approach reduces, or in some cases totally eliminates, the necessity of purchasing specific hardware/software solutions. For example, many companies no longer meet their document processing needs by installing Microsoft Office on their computers. Instead they simply subscribe to Office 365 and receive the services they need through the cloud.


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In today’s IT environment customers aren’t looking for products, but for solutions. That means MSPs must now demonstrate that they provide a unique value proposition for customers who can theoretically go directly to a CSP (cloud service provider) to obtain almost any type of IT service they might need.

Yet the good news for MSPs is that customers aren’t really looking for services – they’re looking for solutions to the business issues they face. As IT business coach Mike Schmidtmann puts it, “Cloud is a business conversation, not a price-and-product conversation.”

So, the MSPs that survive and thrive in the age of the cloud will be those who shift away from simply offering specific products, and move toward providing strategic IT solutions that help their customers realize their business objectives.

value-added features

A Good MSP Will Help Customers Develop an IT Strategy Based on Business Goals

Most MSP clients are not interested in IT per se. Their focus is on using IT effectively to enhance their business operations. So, the first service a cloud-savvy MSP can provide to their customers is to help them develop a comprehensive IT strategy that is closely aligned with the company’s business objectives. In effect, the MSP will seek to become an extension of the customer’s own IT staff, providing a depth of expertise and operational capability that would be very difficult for the customer to maintain in-house.

Once armed with a good understanding of the customer’s business goals, an MSP can help them develop a comprehensive IT strategy that will support those objectives. So, the first conversations between MSPs and their customers shouldn’t be about specific solutions, but about the goals and strategy that customer is pursuing for both the present and the future of its business.


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Overall, we are seeing 80% better performance with Zadara Storage than with our prior storage solution.” — Chris Jones, Infrastructure Architect at Netrepid

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A Good MSP Will Identify Specific Cloud Solutions That Meet Customer Needs

cloud storage as-a-service

A recent CompTIA survey reveals that many companies, especially smaller ones, have a great deal of difficulty in aligning their IT infrastructure with their business strategy. They simply don’t have the in-house technological expertise to do so effectively. John Burgess, president of an MSP in Little Rock, AR, says that such companies are “usually fairly ad hoc and reactionary in how they manage and spend technology.”

Here’s where the added value an MSP partner can provide becomes clearly evident. A good MSP can help identify the specific available cloud services that best fit the customer’s business strategy. In doing so, the MSP will be looking not just at individual services and the CSPs that offer them, but at how those services can be integrated into a unified system that can be effectively managed as a single solution.

A Good MSP Will Manage the Customer’s Cloud Infrastructure

Perhaps the most important service a good MSP can offer is to relieve customers of the burden of having to worry about their IT operations. This involves the capability to initially put the system in place, to monitor its operations on a 24/7/365 basis, and to proactively handle problem resolution and upgrades to system components.

A Good MSP Will Establish Relationships With Expert Partners

Few MSPs have the resources to develop and maintain in-house the kind of comprehensive cloud expertise required to fully support their customers on their own. Most will benefit from having specialized expert partners that can support the MSP in the services they offer to customers.

A good example of such a partner is Zadara Storage. As a storage-as-a-service (STaaS) provider, Zadara offers a high level of expertise in all elements of storage, whether in the public cloud, private clouds, or customers’ on-premises data centers. In fact, Zadara’s VPSA Storage Arrays are already installed in the facilities of major public cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and are available for installation on customer premises as the basis of a private or hybrid cloud solution.

Whether the VPSA Storage Arrays they use are in the cloud, on-premises, or both, Zadara customers never buy storage hardware. Instead, they purchase storage services, paying a monthly fee for only the amount of storage they actually use during that billing period.


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October 4, 2017

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Practical Benefits Of A Hybrid Cloud Strategy

As more and more companies move to the cloud, one of the first questions they have to answer is which cloud model best fits their needs: public, private, or hybrid. Many are choosing the hybrid model as their best option.

The term “hybrid cloud” simply refers to an operational environment that includes both private and public cloud platforms. It has become an attractive model for many enterprises because it allows users to take advantage of the cost and functionality advantages of the public cloud, while also gaining the flexibility and control a private cloud provides.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the unique benefits of a hybrid cloud strategy.

Flexibility to Determine Optimal Placement of Workloads

With a hybrid cloud, administrators can decide where to place each workload to maximize efficiency and minimize costs.

The distinctive characteristic of the public cloud is its ability to provide IT services on demand without requiring up-front capital investments for hardware and infrastructure. With its XaaS (“Whatever you need”-as-a-Service) model, public cloud platforms, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google Cloud Platform (GCP), have become excellent vehicles for quickly deploying common applications that many companies depend on.

Whether it’s a CRM (customer relationship management) or ERM (enterprise resource management) application, or perhaps a document management environment such as Office 365, companies can institute such workloads on a public cloud platform quickly and cost-effectively.

Yet many organizations also have workloads that are better served in an on-premises environment than in the public cloud. For example, workloads that require very high levels of I/O responsiveness, such as big data analytics, may be affected by public cloud latency issues that could degrade system performance to unacceptable levels. By housing such workloads in a company’s on-premises private cloud, where storage and servers can be kept in close physical proximity to one another, latency effects can be minimized.

Control of Data and Applications

The public cloud is a multi-tenant environment in which resources are shared among a number of customers. Many companies, concerned about the possibility of their workloads somehow being affected by the activities of other users, prefer to keep their mission-critical applications at home in a private cloud, under their direct control, while offloading less critical workloads to the public cloud.

Data Placement to Meet Security Requirements

Data security keys

Data security is the number one reason for the use of private clouds. Although public cloud platforms can now provide very high levels of data protection, many organizations believe that their most sensitive data is less vulnerable when it is kept at home behind their own firewall. This is particularly true for companies in industries, such as healthcare or banking, that are subject to regulatory compliance mandates that specify how customer information must be kept secure.

On the other hand, less sensitive data that becomes inactive or infrequently used can be moved to public cloud storage to take advantage of lower costs and greater scalability.

Speed of Testing and Deploying New Applications

Many companies use both public and private clouds in the testing and deployment of new applications. The design parameters of new apps can be shaped, refined, and thoroughly tested using a public cloud PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) offering. Because PaaS resources are virtualized, developers can call them in as needed without having to spend capital funds to purchase hardware. Then, once development and testing are complete, the application can be deployed to a public or private cloud for production.

Spillover of Non-Critical Data to the Public Cloud

keyboard in clouds

Many hybrid cloud implementations are specifically designed to allow seamless failover to the public cloud should the operations of an organization’s private cloud be disrupted for any reason. This is especially true in the area of data backup/restore and disaster recovery. Once the emergency has passed, operations can be returned to the private cloud environment, often without users ever being aware that the failure occurred.

This is also the idea behind “cloud bursting,” which is instituted when surges in demand outpace the capacity of a private cloud. Whether it’s pre-planned, perhaps in anticipation of seasonal spikes in traffic, or is the entirely unexpected result of some news event that suddenly drives increased traffic to a company’s website, non-sensitive data can be temporarily spilled over into the public cloud so that operations can continue without disruption.

The Zadara Hybrid Cloud Storage Solution

The Zadara Storage Cloud has proven to be a highly effective storage solution for hybrid cloud implementations. Zadara VPSA Storage Arrays are connected to major cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP. They can also be housed on customer premises as the storage component of a private cloud. With their remote replication and mirroring capabilities, these devices can transparently transfer stored data between clouds to facilitate failover, spillover, backup/restore, and disaster recovery.

Zadara VPSA Storage Arrays are provided on a storage-as-a-service (STaaS) basis. No matter how many may be installed on site, customers pay only a monthly fee for just the amount of storage they actually use during the billing period.

If you’d like to explore how Zadara Storage can assist your company in developing a cost-effective hybrid cloud implementation, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.

September 26, 2017

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How a Multi-Cloud Strategy Can Benefit MSPs

Businesses of all sizes are moving to the cloud in ever-increasing numbers. MSPs (Managed IT Services Providers) are recognizing that if they don’t want to be left behind, they’ve got to lead the way. That’s why most successful MSPs today are committed to providing their customers with a comprehensive array of services delivered through the cloud.

But for an MSP to provide the highest levels of cloud-based services, it’s not enough to develop expertise with any particular cloud platform. All the major cloud service providers (CSPs), such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), offer a common set of basic features. Yet, they also differ from one another significantly in the types of services each is best suited to provide. That’s why deriving the maximum benefit from the cloud model requires the ability to take advantage of the best that each individual cloud platform has to offer.

In other words, to get the most out of the cloud, you need a multi-cloud strategy.

The multi-cloud approach provides some important advantages to MSPs, both in the services they can offer their customers, and in terms of their own operations. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.


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Benefits to MSP Customers

multi cloud puzzle pieces

Match Workloads To the Most Suitable Platforms

All the major clouds provide similar suites of basic services. Yet each is optimized for different types of workloads. For example, if your customer is running Windows client apps, Microsoft Azure is a natural fit. If they are doing big data analytics, GCP might be a better choice. Part of your job as a multi-cloud MSP is to help your customers determine the best cloud platform for each of their workloads.

Avoid Vendor Lock-In

A good MSP will work with clients to ensure that their workloads are portable between platforms. That way, if a client becomes dissatisfied with a particular platform for any reason, their options won’t be limited by the prospect of a costly and time-consuming migration to another cloud.

Reduce Costs

Each CSP provides different service plans, at different price points, for each set of features it offers. Part of what a cloud-savvy MSP can offer clients is the ability to distribute specific workloads among the various cloud platforms to not only take advantage of what each cloud does best but also, to get the best pricing for exactly the services the client needs.


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Enhance Data Security

By replicating data (and even virtual servers) among different clouds, MSPs can offer a high level of backup/recovery and disaster recovery services to clients. A disruption at one location can immediately trigger failover to either another zone or to an entirely different cloud platform.

Benefits to the MSP Itself

choosing multi cloud

Increase Your Ability to Meet SLA Requirements

MSPs are usually bound by a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that provides a specific up-time guarantee. A multi-cloud strategy helps MSPs meet SLA up-time requirements by allowing operations to be quickly and transparently shifted from a CSP that is experiencing an outage to a different platform.

Keep Up With Technological Advances

The major cloud platforms are quite competitive with one another. Each works hard to introduce new or improved features that are not available through its competitors. But multi-cloud MSPs are able to tap into innovations introduced by any of the CSPs with whom they work.

Extend Your Expertise

A multi-cloud approach can substantially reduce the degree to which an MSP is required to be a technical jack of all trades. Instead of maintaining in-house experts for a wide range of solutions, MSPs can leverage the expertise of the various CSPs to offer platform-specific services to clients.

How Zadara Can Help With a Multi-cloud Strategy

The Zadara Storage Cloud is ideal as part of a multi-cloud solution. With Zadara VPSA Storage Arrays installed both on customer premises and connected to the major cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and GCP, data can be seamlessly and transparently replicated among various public and private cloud platforms. Download White Paper: Getting Great Performance in the Cloud.


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September 21, 2017

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Why Companies Adopt Both Public and Private Clouds

More and more companies are basing significant portions of their IT infrastructure in the cloud. According to the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Survey of IT professionals, a full 95 percent of respondents said that their companies have adopted the cloud as an integral part of their IT operations. For some of those companies, the focus is on the public cloud; for others it’s on an in-house private cloud. The majority make use of both public and private clouds.

What is it about public and private clouds that causes so many companies to be drawn to them? Let’s take a look at the benefits each of these cloud models offer to businesses today.

The Benefits of the Cloud

It was not that long ago that the standard approach to IT in most companies was to build and maintain their own in-house datacenters. But the cloud computing model has brought about a fundamental shift in the way businesses seek to meet their IT needs. No longer must companies devote scarce capital (CapEx) funds to the purchase of their own servers, storage, and networking hardware. Instead, the cloud model encourages them to purchase IT services on a pay-as-you-go basis for a monthly fee.

Customers pay only for the services that they actually use. The cloud platform provider is responsible to acquire, support, and upgrade the required hardware and software as necessary, and to ensure that a sufficient amount of these resources is always available to allow on-demand provisioning and scaling. The result is that the cloud model offers companies lower overall costs, greater flexibility and agility, rapid deployment of applications, and a substantial reduction in the amount of expert staff required to manage the organization’s IT infrastructure.

How Public and Private Clouds Differ From One Another

public and private clouds cross streets

Public cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are, as the name implies, open to everyone. They operate on a multi-tenancy model in which hardware and software resources are shared among a number of different customers. This allows the public cloud to realize economies of scale that drive down costs for all users.

Private clouds, on the other hand, are built on a single-tenancy model. That means they are devoted exclusively to one customer, and there is no sharing of resources. Private clouds can be implemented either in a company’s on-premises datacenter using its own hardware, in an external facility run by a trusted partner such as a managed services provider (MSP), or even, in some cases, with dedicated resources in the facilities of a public cloud provider. The key is that a private cloud is isolated to a single customer, and there is no intermingling of that customer’s hardware/software resources or data with those of other customers.

Advantages of the Public Cloud

Because of its large multi-tenant user base, a public cloud platform can normally provide IT services at a lower cost than a private cloud could achieve. Costs are also reduced by the fact that customers have no responsibility for purchasing, housing, supporting, or managing hardware. The result is that workloads can be deployed on a public cloud platform more quickly and inexpensively than would be the case with a private cloud.

Advantages of a Private Cloud

cloud in chains protected for data protection

The main driver in the decision of many companies to make use of a private cloud is the desire to retain maximum control over business-critical data. Although public clouds now provide the highest levels of data protection, the multi-tenant nature of such platforms, and the fact that they are designed to allow access by users around the world, presents a level of perceived vulnerability that many companies are not comfortable with. Plus, businesses in certain industries face strict regulatory compliance obligations, such as those imposed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). With a private cloud, all of a company’s data can remain safely hidden behind the organization’s own firewall, totally inaccessible to outsiders.

The ability to tailor a private cloud to the exact requirements of a company’s specific workloads may also provide performance advantages over what could be achieved with a public cloud platform.

The Zadara Storage Solution Spans Both Public and Private Cloud Platforms

The Zadara Storage Cloud provides a common storage solution for both public and private clouds. Its VPSA Storage Arrays support each of the major public cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). They also form the basis of many private cloud implementations. The Zadara Storage architecture also provides resource isolation, so users gain the benefits of multi-tenant public clouds, but with the security and predictable performance of a private cloud. Whether they use the public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid combination of the two, Zadara customers receive all the benefits of the cloud model, including paying a monthly fee for just the amount of storage they actually use. And Zadara takes on the responsibility to monitor and support the customer’s storage, whether on-site or in the public cloud.

If you would like to know more about how Zadara can help you develop a comprehensive cloud solution for your company, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.

September 13, 2017

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How MSPs Can Help Their Customers Migrate to the Cloud

Businesses are moving to the cloud at an accelerating pace. A recent report from 451 Research indicates that by 2018, 60 percent of all enterprise workloads are expected to be based in the cloud. Yet many companies are still hesitating – not because they doubt the value of the cloud to their businesses, but because they recognize that moving their existing workloads to an entirely new platform is not a trivial task.

That trepidation represents an opportunity for managed services providers. A recent study on enterprise digital transformation conducted by 451 Research found that 49 percent of respondents say their organizations plan to call upon the assistance of an IT services partner as they evolve their IT operations. Many MSPs have built strong relationships with their customers by providing sound strategic guidance and operational excellence in implementing, managing, and supporting the customer’s IT infrastructure in a datacenter environment. Now, as customers face the need to move into the cloud, it would be natural for them to continue to rely on the partner on whom they already depend if that MSP has the requisite skills.

What Customers Need From Their MSPs

According to Chad Bockius, CEO of CopperEgg, “The biggest issue for organizations moving to the cloud is fear of the unknown.”

The first thing many customers will need from their MSP partner is proactive assistance in developing a roadmap for the transformation of the customer’s IT infrastructure from its datacenter-bound past to a cloud-centered future.

working together at desk

MSPs will need to be able to provide services such as the following:

  • Identify how migration to the cloud fits into the customer’s strategic business plan.
  • Analyze the benefits and costs (both operational and financial) of moving to the cloud.
  • Audit current IT operations to determine which workloads and applications are good candidates for migration to the cloud, and which should, at least in the beginning, remain on site. Some workloads should not be migrated for data security, regulatory compliance, or performance reasons. Some legacy applications might need to be extensively rewritten to make them suitable for implementation in a cloud environment. The audit should surface such issues and make recommendations concerning how each should be handled.
  • Identify the cloud-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), STaaS (Storage-as-a-Service), or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) offerings that are available to fulfill the requirements of current and future customer workloads.
  • Determine the mix of public and private cloud platforms that can best serve the customer’s specific needs.
  • Lay out a detailed migration plan that ensures minimal downtime and maximum data security.

How MSPs Can Position Themselves to Provide Cloud Migration Services

For many traditional MSPs, the list of services they’ll be called on to provide in helping customers migrate to the cloud can seem overwhelming. In fact, that fear of the unknown Chad Bockius speaks of often applies as much to MSPs as to their customers. Managed service providers usually have a good understanding of their customers’ current operations, but may lack in-depth experience with the various cloud platforms.

For such MSPs an attempt to develop, on their own, the levels of the experience and expertise required to successfully navigate the complexities of cloud migration and implementation would probably be a losing proposition. But the good news is that it’s not necessary. For every facet of a cloud migration and implementation project, capable third party providers are available who will gladly add their specialized expertise to the effort. The most important contribution of an MSP may not be as the direct implementer of every part of the cloud strategy, but as an integrator the customer can trust to reliably orchestrate the efforts of a team of partners.

 

chalkboard writing about partner

A good example of an expert partner is STaaS provider Zadara Storage. Its VPSA Storage Array technology is already installed in the facilities of major cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and more. When these devices are also installed in customer data centers, the usually complex and time-consuming process of migrating applications and data to the cloud can be made seamless and non-disruptive.

If you would like to know more about how partnering with Zadara can help you develop and implement a comprehensive plan for migrating your customers to the cloud, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.

August 30, 2017

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How MSPs Can Offer Managed Private Clouds To Customers

MSPs have built their businesses on offering a suite of standard IT services to their customers. But now many of those customers have begun migrating to the cloud, and taking advantage of the unique services the cloud model offers. That should be a warning flag for traditional MSPs. With much of their customer base moving to the cloud, those MSPs that don’t offer their own set of cloud-based services in a managed private cloud risk being left behind.

Still, although companies are moving to the cloud in large numbers, many are not yet ready to totally commit their applications and data to public cloud platforms. Some are concerned about the security of their data in a multi-tenant environment. Others have performance requirements that, due to inherent latency effects, the public cloud has difficulty meeting. Whatever the cause may be, these companies desire to keep at least a portion of their workloads under their direct control.

Yet, the benefits of the cloud model are too compelling to forego. That’s what is leading a growing number of companies to implement private clouds, which can provide most of the benefits of the cloud model in an exclusive, single-tenant environment.

However, managing a sophisticated cloud platform is not a trivial task. Doing so requires a level of expertise that many companies lack. And that’s where opportunity lies for forward-looking MSPs.

Most companies contemplating use of a private cloud simply lack the internal resources necessary to set up, manage, and support an in-house cloud environment. MSPs that can supply that kind of expertise and take the cloud management load off their customers’ backs can carve out an important and secure role for themselves. In other words, MSPs that offer their customers managed private clouds can keep themselves on track to survive and even thrive as the corporate IT environment becomes more and more cloud-centric.

What Is a Managed Private Cloud?

A managed private cloud is, first of all, a private cloud – that is, a fully functional cloud platform that is implemented in a completely private environment with a single tenant rather than the multiple tenants that characterize the public cloud. Although they are entirely dedicated to a single customer, these clouds are managed by third parties, and their physical resources, such as servers, storage, and networking devices, may reside either on the customer’s premises, or in the facilities of the cloud manager.

How MSPs Can Implement Managed Private Clouds

A cloud is really just a wide array of computing services delivered to customers through internet connections. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines it this way:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Cloud services are made available through what is called a “stack,” which is simply a broad range of resources that are conceptually built on top of one another.

managed private cloud data storage

The capabilities of a cloud platform are defined by its stack. In fact, a cloud’s stack is often referred to as its operating system. That’s the way the OpenStack Foundation views its own free offering, which is probably the stack most widely used to implement private clouds today:

“OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface.”

OpenStack is one of several open source products available to MSPs for building managed private clouds for their customers. Others include CloudStack, Eucalyptus, and OpenNebula. In addition, some of the major public clouds are beginning to make their proprietary stacks available to private cloud builders. For example, Microsoft is offering its Azure Stack, providing access to the same APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and tool sets that characterize the Azure public cloud.

Because these stacks and their APIs are well documented, MSPs that desire to do so should be able to develop in-depth familiarity with one or more of these offerings. By combining that expertise with their traditional strengths in areas such as 24/7/365 monitoring and support, and enterprise-level backup/restore/disaster recovery, MSPs will be well positioned to provide critically important services for customers who need a managed private cloud.

MSPs Should Work With Knowledgeable Partners

chalkboard writing about partner

One way for an MSP to reduce the level of cloud-specific knowledge required of its own staff is to work with partners that already possess that kind of expertise. For example, Zadara Storage is well familiar with the intricacies of both public and private clouds. Its VPSA Storage Arrays are already installed in the facilities of major public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), among others. The same technology is available for use with on-premises private clouds at customer sites.

When its VPSA Storage Arrays are used in private clouds, Zadara takes on the responsibility to remotely operate, monitor, maintain, and upgrade storage hardware and software as necessary. By working with a partner such as Zadara, an MSP can substantially reduce the amount of time and dedicated expert staff required to support its customers, while still providing the highest levels of service.

If you’d like to know more about how Zadara can help you provide managed private clouds to your customers, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.

August 22, 2017

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How MSPs Can Sell Enterprise Backup and Recovery Services

In today’s 24/7/365 commercial environment, information is a crucial resource for almost any business.  With that said, enterprise backup and recovery services are critical.

A company that loses access to its data for even just minutes will almost certainly suffer significant negative repercussions.

For example, every hour of downtime can cost a Fortune 1000 enterprise an average of $500,000 to $1 million. Plus, companies risk long-term loss of both customers and reputation.

Many times businesses don’t really understand how vulnerable they are to a potentially catastrophic loss of data due to disruptions such as man-made or natural disasters, hardware/software failures, malware attacks, or ill-advised actions by workers that can result in critical information being inadvertently (or deliberately) deleted or corrupted. Without a comprehensive backup solution in place, companies run the risk of critical and irreplaceable data disappearing in an instant due to some unanticipated circumstance.

Yet many businesses lack a viable strategy for ensuring that their vital information is adequately backed up and recoverable. Far too many companies aren’t consistently backing up their data at all. And many of those that do are actually more vulnerable than they know because their backup process doesn’t cover all the necessary bases.

That’s where a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) can perform a vital service for its customers. Many businesses don’t have the time, money, or expertise to craft an adequate backup plan on their own. But a good MSP can help identify and implement enterprise-class backup solutions that will keep their clients’ data safe and available in almost any circumstance.

To learn more about Zadara Storage enterprise backup and recovery services, click here to join our webinar, “Why Service Providers Love Zadara Storage” on June 7th. 

Why Many Companies Have Inadequate Data Backup

The biggest reason many businesses skimp on their enterprise backup and recovery services is cost. It’s undeniable that implementing a good backup plan requires an investment of funds that might seem to be more urgently needed elsewhere. That often leads to companies relying on solutions that are less costly, but also less comprehensive and reliable.

Many times IT managers believe they are covered because workers are backing up their data to some type of on-premises storage on a daily or weekly basis. Or the company may maintain an account with a cloud backup service that automatically uploads data from servers or employee computers on a preset schedule.

But such practices can give an organization a false sense of security. It’s not uncommon for businesses that have some type of backup solution in place when they lose data to still have to call on a professional data recovery service to retrieve information that the company’s backup system was not able to fully restore.

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What a First-Class Data Backup Solution Looks Like

Sometimes small businesses settle for inadequate backup because they are unaware of the enterprise backup and recovery services features that they need. The backup solutions offered by Zadara Storage provide a good picture of what a modern enterprise-grade backup system looks like.

For example, Zadara’s VPSA Storage Array technology enables backup to both on-premises and remote storage in order to ensure that a local disaster, such as a fire or flood, can’t wipe out both the original data and the backup at the same time. In addition, all data is RAID protected, which ensures that copies of the data are dispersed across several disks so that a drive failure will not cause data loss.

The Zadara technology allows automatic, continuous, incremental backups, with frequent zero-impact snapshots not only of data but of the operating system and running applications as well. This, along with mirroring to local and remote storage, enables automatic failover to virtual servers in the cloud or on site. If a local server should suddenly go down, these already-provisioned backup servers can instantly kick in, allowing a client’s applications to continue running without interruption. Moreover, with Zadara’s multi-zone and multi-cloud capabilities, even if a major cloud provider such as AWS or Microsoft Azure suffers an outage, the backup system can still provide customers with continuous access to their data.

Other features of a top-notch enterprise backup solution include unlimited scaling, in-flight and at-rest encryption, and centralized management. A critical service an MSP can add is continuous verification of backups, to ensure not only that client data is backed up correctly, but that it can, in fact, be recovered.

 

How MSPs Can Encourage Clients To Adopt Enterprise Backup and Recovery Services

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MSPs, as trusted partners in helping companies get the best from their IT investments, have the opportunity to educate their clients about the dangers, potentially to the very survival of the business, of making less than adequate provisions for backing up critical data. At the same time, the MSP must be able to provide a solution that not only meets the required operational standards but which also is affordable within the client’s budget constraints.

That’s why partnering with a top-notch STaaS (storage-as-a-service) provider like Zadara Storage is key. Because the STaaS model is inherently more technically comprehensive and cost effective than solutions involving traditional storage, MSPs that take the initiative to encourage clients to upgrade their backup capability can offer enterprise-grade backup at a small business price point.

If you’d like to know more about how you can provide your customers with backup services that are more comprehensive and cost-effective than they can achieve on their own, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.

May 17, 2017

Posted In: Tech Corner

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3 Reasons Why Partnering with a Good Service Provider Matters

What’s your role as a Managed Services Provider (MSP)?

It’s to assist your clients in obtaining the IT services. Services that are essential if they are to survive and prosper in today’s technology-saturated business environment.

Accomplishing that goal requires more than just fulfilling client requests for specific services. The best MSPs stay on top of developing trends in the IT marketplace, and use that expertise to proactively guide customers toward an IT infrastructure that can take them where they need to go, both now and in the future.

And in today’s world, where they mostly need to go is the cloud.

Not only large enterprises, but also small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are moving their IT operations into the cloud in ever greater numbers. In fact, according to the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017, 95 percent of the IT professionals surveyed indicated that they had “migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud over the past year.” And nowhere is that movement to the cloud more strategic than in the area of data storage.

Sign up for our webinar on June 7th “Why Service Providers Love Zadara Enterprise Cloud Storage” to learn more.  

Data Storage Is a Primary Concern For Both MSPs and Their Clients

In a recent survey involving more than 1,200 senior IT decision makers, a majority of respondents name storage as their #1 worry. With the amount of data companies handle growing at exponential rates, meeting increased capacity demands by simply adding more storage hardware has become prohibitively expensive. Companies that have entrusted management of their IT infrastructure to an MSP will rightly look to that partner for help in finding ways to meet this continually increasing demand for storage in a cost effective way.

 

MSPs Face Even Greater Storage Pressures Than Their Clients

Many MSPs use their own data centers in providing IT services to clients, and the requirements they face are even more stringent. The MSP becomes legally liable for meeting the uptime standard guaranteed in a SLA (Service Level Agreement). Failure to do so can result not only in financial penalties, but also in the loss of a customer. As a result, MSPs that provide storage services through their in-house data centers are often forced to over-provision to ensure they’ll never be caught with inadequate capacity to meet customer demand. MSPs may also be required to provide staff on a 24/7 basis to monitor the customer’s storage infrastructure and fix problems as they arise.

Because of issues such as these, many MSPs are finding it increasingly difficult to provide cost-effective enterprise-level storage services on their own.

 

How Partnering With a Good Cloud Storage Provider Changes the Game

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The good news for MSPs is that expert help in meeting storage challenges is available. By joining forces with a cloud-based storage-as-a-service (STaaS) provider, the issues that have made data storage such a point of pain for both MSPs and their customers can be dealt with effectively.

MSPs that partner with a top-notch STaaS vendor, like Zadara Storage, can offer their clients enterprise class storage services for a monthly fee. Storage can be based in the public cloud, in an on-site private cloud, or both. There’s no need for either the MSP or the customer to ever purchase storage hardware, or to devote operating funds and staff to monitoring, maintaining, and upgrading storage units. The STaaS provider performs all those functions as an integral part of its service.

One of the most important features of STaaS solutions is elastic scaling. Whenever a client’s capacity needs grow or diminish, a solution like Zadara’s can automatically and almost instantaneously scale up or down to accommodate demand. In either case, the customer pays only for the amount of storage they actually use.

With a good STaaS vendor, MSPs avoid the necessity of having storage experts on staff and available 24/7 to support their clients. A provider like Zadara will remotely monitor the client’s storage infrastructure, often catching and correcting problems before the client, or the MSP, becomes aware of them. And a first class STaaS provider will also take the responsibility to meet stringent SLA commitments. Zadara’s service, for example, comes with a 100 percent uptime SLA guarantee.

 

Having the Right Partner Can Make All the Difference

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By partnering with a top notch STaaS provider like Zadara, MSPs can offer their customers the highest level of storage services at an affordable cost.

Zadara is committed to working with (and not around) its MSP partners to supply first-class storage services to customers. The MSP remains the point of contact with their clients, and need never worry that Zadara will attempt to supplant them in that relationship. That kind of partnership is a winning proposition for both parties.

If you would like to explore how partnering with a first-class STaaS provider like Zadara can be a game changer for your company, please read the case study: VPSA in the Cloud.

May 2, 2017

Posted In: Blog, Industry Insights

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Zadara Storage Cloud for Managed Service Providers

Introduction

Many people question what the Zadara Storage Cloud can do for managed service providers. The Zadara Storage Cloud is very robust at meeting the storage requirements for both single and multiple users. With its software defined storage (SDS) capabilities, it can be scaled up and down based on current usage needs. In this instructional brief, we examine how to manage multiple clients in AWS using Zadara Storage Cloud, scaling up and scaling out the storage as your customer base grows.

Continue reading Zadara Storage Cloud for Managed Service Providers

April 20, 2016

Posted In: DevOps

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