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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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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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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CapEx vs OpEx: Which Works Best For Storage Spending?

Traditionally, corporations’ storage spending through capital expenditures (CapEx). The servers, networks, and storage arrays they require for their data centers are purchased up front, and then are depreciated over the life of the equipment, normally three years. But with the advent of cloud-based Storage as a Service (STaaS), a shift toward paying for storage resources as operational expenses (OpEx) is well under way.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Initial Acquisition Costs

When storage hardware is acquired through capital spending, it becomes an asset that is bought and paid for by the customer. That means companies must allocate the entire cost of such equipment up front. For dedicated storage arrays, networks, and servers, that can be a very significant expense.

With the OpEx-based STaaS model, on the other hand, customers don’t purchase storage equipment, but storage services. The distinguishing feature of this approach is that services are only paid for as they are actually used, and the necessity for up-front capital expenditures is eliminated.

Removing the burden of having to acquire large amounts of up-front capital is particularly important for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Smaller companies often have difficulty raising the funds required for large capital expenditures. It’s especially difficult to do so quickly. When unanticipated surges in demand require that additional storage capacity be added quickly, SMBs that use a CapEx model to stock their storage infrastructure can easily find themselves unable to keep up with new business requirements simply because they can’t raise the needed capital funds rapidly enough.


OpEx vs. CapEx: Side by Side Comparison — Which is Better for Your Business? Download the Infographic


 Support, Maintenance and Infrastructure Costs

When you acquire equipment through capital spending, you own it. That means you also own all the costs of space to house it, electricity to power and cool it, and IT staff to support, maintain, upgrade, and replace it. The result is that under the CapEx model, not only will there be substantial up-front costs to acquire needed hardware and software, but you’ll also have on-going OpEx expenses that are necessary to keep the equipment running.

With the STaaS model, both the capital and operational expenses of the traditional CapEx model are replaced by a single monthly fee to your storage provider. Because the actual storage equipment is housed at sites owned by your storage vendor, support, maintenance, and even upgrade costs are included in the service fee. The great advantage of this shift from CapEx to OpEx storage spending is that it is normally much easier for SMBs, and even larger enterprises, to allocate funds for day-to-day operations than it is to provide the much higher level of capital funding required to purchase equipment up front.

Overall, when both the capital and operational costs of the CapEx approach are accounted for, the OpEx model is considerably less expensive.

 

Business Agility

In this age of rapid technological and social change, business conditions often change quickly and unexpectedly. That fact can put a lot of strain on companies that fund their storage infrastructure through CapEx spending. First, it requires that IT managers overprovision their storage capacity, keeping some proportion of the equipment they purchase sitting unused in the data center so as not to be caught short if storage demand unexpectedly surges. And if forecasts of future needs do fall short, a not uncommon occurrence, quickly adding additional capacity through capital spending can be very problematic.

With the OpEx/STaaS model, however, additional capacity can be provided on an as-required basis. There’s no need to stockpile hardware in anticipation of higher levels of demand. Instead, your vendor can simply allocate additional storage units for your use. Often this can be accomplished automatically in minutes (through software), rather than requiring the weeks or months it can take to acquire, install, and configure new storage units in your own data center.

An additional benefit of OpEx over CapEx is that it facilitates adopting the latest advances in storage technology. Companies that depend on CapEx for their storage infrastructure can acquire new capabilities only through new capital purchases. But under the OpEx/STaaS model, a good storage services provider will be continually upgrading their equipment in a manner that is transparent to the customer.

 

Storage Management Complexity

The OpEx/STaaS approach to acquiring storage resources puts much less of a burden on a company’s IT staff and management than does the CapEx model. No longer must the staff have the expertise to handle the care and feeding of a disparate group of hardware resources that may be scattered over a number of company sites. Instead, IT management can work with a single storage vendor, chosen not only for their high level of storage expertise, but also for their demonstrated ability to meet the requirements of the SLA (Service Level Agreement) that defines the services the vendor is legally bound to supply.

 

OpEx Wins The Day!

With the amount of data companies have to deal with expanding at exponential rates, and with new business opportunities arising quickly (and sometimes fading away just as quickly), the CapEx approach for building necessary storage capacity is simply no longer adequate. By shifting from a CapEx to an OpEx model, a company can not only substantially reduce its overall per-terabyte costs for storage, but also become much more agile in its response to changing conditions.

If you’d like to consider whether a switch to an OpEx-centric approach for meeting your company’s data storage needs might make sense, we here at Zadara would be happy to help. A good place to start is by downloading our ‘STaaS vs Traditional Storage’ infographic.


Still not sure if you’re ready to move to OpEx storage?

Take a look at the TCO Analysis of Storage-as-a-Service: Download the Analyst Report

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February 28, 2017

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OpEx Spending for Private Cloud Storage: Shifting the Corporate Mindset

The amount of data businesses require to support their operations is exploding year by year. Most of that growth in digital storage is taking place in the cloud. According to storage consultant Tom Coughlin, writing for Forbes magazine, “Cloud storage growth dominates projections for 2016 digital storage.”

And there’s good reason for that. Cloud storage offers an enterprise important advantages, both in operational flexibility and in significantly lower costs.

Yet most business data still resides in on-premises private storage. When it comes to their business-critical information, many companies value the control and security of keeping their data in their own data centers, behind their own firewalls. For these enterprises, the public cloud is simply not an option.

But now there’s a way to have the best of both worlds. The Zadara Storage On-Premise as-a-Service (OPaaS) offering brings all the advantages of secure cloud storage right into a company’s own data center. And it provides that private cloud storage at a significantly lower cost than most enterprises can achieve managing their own storage infrastructure.

How OPaaS Lowers Costs

OPaaS is an implementation of Zadara’s cloud-based Storage as a Service (STaaS) model that allows you as a customer to treat your ever-increasing data storage needs as operational expenses (OpEx) rather than capital expenditures (CapEx). Required storage systems are housed in your own dedicated data center, and are accessed through your company intranet rather than the public internet, thus maintaining the level of data security the enterprise demands. But you never have to purchase that equipment. Instead, you pay a monthly fee for only the amount of storage you actually use.

How does this approach lower your costs? When you acquire a capital asset, you pay for that asset up front, and you own it from then on. But data usage is growing at an almost exponential rate, and so are advances in storage system technology. Hardware that was leading edge when you purchased it can be practically obsolete within two or three years. Plus, as your company grows, its storage requirements will probably grow even faster. A business that treats its data storage infrastructure as CapEx may be required to repeat those purchases every few years.

What happens if you fail to accurately project what your data storage needs will be several years down the road? If you overestimate, you could end up owning unused capacity you don’t need but have already paid for. Or, as is more likely for a fast-growing business, if you underestimate your future data usage, you could find yourself facing urgent capital spending requirements you did not anticipate and may not be financially prepared to meet.


The OPaaS/OpEx model gives you maximum flexibility as conditions change

Because with OPaaS your data storage infrastructure is an operating, not capital, expense, you don’t have to worry about accurately estimating how much storage you’ll need at some future time. You continue to pay a predictable monthly charge based on your current usage.

Zadara will install, at no additional cost to you, extra capacity that can be brought online at the flip of a software switch. So, unanticipated spikes in data usage can be covered immediately. And if a storage unit should fail, a new one can be seamlessly swapped in with no downtime for maintenance.

We continuously monitor the amount of data you are using, and as that usage begins to outgrow your installed capacity, we can ship additional storage units to your data center in anticipation of it being needed in the near future. As advances in storage technology create more cost-effective solutions, Zadara will provide hardware upgrades behind the scenes with no required action (or expense) on your part.

 

Don’t Underestimate Your CapEx Costs

Many times, in performing a cloud storage comparison of the CapEx and OpEx approaches, companies fail to account for all the costs associated with owning and operating their own data storage infrastructure. For example, in addition to the up-front capital costs of purchasing the equipment and required software, there are also operating expenses associated with the use and maintenance of these assets. Items such as the cost of required floor space, air conditioning, and power for servers must be included. Then there are the costs associated with IT management and the employees required to operate and maintain both hardware and software.

An additional consideration with smaller or quickly expanding companies is that they may be constrained in their capital expenditures by the amount of money they can raise from potential funders. In such cases, reducing the amount required for upfront capital expenditures may be of primary importance. Not having to put any CapEx into their vital data storage infrastructure can make a major difference to a fast growing business’s viability or growth potential.

 

Is Private Cloud Storage Best For Your Business?

Private Cloud Storage using the OpEx model provides your company with maximum flexibility and agility in meeting its data requirements in a fast-changing business environment. Data usage can be scaled up (or down if appropriate) almost instantly to allow you to quickly take advantage of new opportunities. And still, even if additional capacity must be installed, or storage subsystems that fail have to be replaced, you pay only for the data you actually use.

Many companies haven’t seriously considered cloud data storage because they assumed that the public cloud was their only viable option. Not wanting to risk mission-critical data in the less secure environment of the public internet, they have continued to manage their data storage facilities entirely in-house. But by doing so, they miss out on the significant cost savings they could obtain by replacing the capital expenditures required to maintain their own infrastructure with the OpEx approach the STaaS model allows. Perhaps even more seriously, they limit their ability to quickly adjust their data usage to changing conditions in an environment where opportunities to grow the business can appear with astounding speed, and disappear just as quickly.

Here at Zadara Storage we specialize in helping companies find the most cost-effective solution to their data storage needs. If you would like to consider how private cloud storage can reduce your costs, please download our latest analyst paper: Zadara Storage Voted by IT Pros as On-Premise Enterprise Storage-as-a-Service Market Leader.

September 29, 2016

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How CapEx vs OpEx IT Spending (Like Business Cloud Storage) Affects Business Tax Liabilities

IT is reinventing itself. Not only are the cloud and mobile technologies revolutionizing the way we see IT, but the economic landscape is such that IT must evolve or implode. While companies are increasing their dependence on technology daily, their willingness to cough up huge chunks of cash to fund IT is dwindling by the hour. Brexit, the impending U.S. presidential election (which no one seems too eager about), and shaky world governments and currencies all contribute to enterprises tightening the purse strings. More than ever, businesses need to be smart about their IT spending.

With innovations like business cloud storage, IT and the enterprise are rethinking how IT expenses are handled. Here’s how moving IT expenses to the OpEx ledger helps.

Defining CapEx and OpEx


With business cloud storage, IT expenses become smaller, regular, necessary expenses, instead of huge capital expenditures that you can’t get the C-suite to sign off on.

First, it pays to have a basic understanding of the terms CapEx and OpEx. CapEx is shorthand for a capital expense. Capital expenses are large, lump-sum investments in a capital purchase. It implies both ownership and the acquisition of an asset. For example, real estate is almost always a sound capital investment, because it appreciates in value.

OpEx is short for operational expense, and it is the model for acquiring all non-capital needs. These are generally consumable goods or services that hold no long-term value. Examples of operational expenses are utility bills and property rentals. While there is no ownership, and no expectation of an increase in the value of those goods or services, the costs are comparatively much lower. These are seen as ongoing necessary expenses; they are simply the cost of doing business.

 

Establishing IT as an Essential Cost of Doing Business

As you have probably begun to surmise based on the descriptions, there are distinct advantages of shifting IT expenses off of the capital expense ledger and onto the operational expense ledger. Business cloud storage and other cloud services make this possible. Like the power bill, the water bill, and cleaning services, IT becomes part of the necessary, ongoing expenses of doing business.

This also eliminates many of the heated discussions in the boardroom. Instead of the CIO or IT manager having to beg and plead for hundreds of thousands of dollars for new servers, (s)he can instead list this as a much smaller ongoing expense and get what (s)he needs via the cloud.

 

OpEx IT: Expenses Down, Benefits Up

 


You can reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing a thing. All you need is business cloud storage.

With business cloud storage, there is no need to depreciate expensive equipment over time, and IT no longer has to jump through fiery hoops to prove that their massive investment yielded a satisfactory ROI.

As there is a growing awareness of global environmental issues, businesses are encouraged to operate in an environmentally friendly way. In fact, some tax laws and incentives increasingly favor businesses that are able to cut power usage and eliminate environmental contaminants, which means that business cloud storage makes even more sense. Shifting storage and processing workloads to the cloud can drastically reduce your onsite power consumption, and may help your business qualify for reliefs or special advantages offered.

Best of all, perhaps, is that business cloud storage no longer means shifting your data stores and workloads off to a cloud provider in the sky …. with no means for tracking where your data is or who has access to it. You can now get the benefits of business cloud storage while keeping your data safely onsite. Find out more when you download our latest analyst paper: Zadara Storage Voted by IT Pros as On-Premise Enterprise Storage-as-a-Service Market Leader.

September 21, 2016

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Understanding the Differences in CapEx & OpEx: Enterprise Cloud Storage

Traditionally, IT expenses have fallen under the umbrella of capital expenses, often abbreviated within the finance and accounting industries as CapEx expenses. With the advent of cloud computing, the ‘as a Service’ model of buying software, enterprise cloud storage, and related trends in IT, many organizations are successfully shifting some or all IT expenses to the operational expense ledger, similarly abbreviated as OpEx. There are many differences in CapEx and OpEx, and it’s important to understand these differences whether in accounting or an IT pro.

Continue reading Understanding the Differences in CapEx & OpEx: Enterprise Cloud Storage

September 7, 2016

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How 4 Companies Won By Shifting Storage Costs from CapEx to OpEx

A strong trend among businesses today is to forego expensive capital investments in IT storage solutions and opt instead for lower-cost cloud-based storage solutions that fit on the operational expense sheets. There are numerous advantages for moving storage costs to OpEx, including the ease of getting additional storage costs approved and the ability to take care of cloud NAS costs as you would any ordinary utility expense. Many of Zadara’s clients have saved significant amounts of money doing just this. Here are a few notable examples.

1. Gilt


Gilt is an e-commerce site that offers daily deals on fashion apparel, accessories, and more for men, women, and children.

Gilt is a forward-thinking online shopping site that delivers special access to its merchandise and experiences on a membership basis. Gilt faced several challenges. First, they had a quickly-growing collection of product images that meant challenges with management and scalability. Secondly, their existing storage infrastructure was much more cumbersome and expensive than a cloud NAS solution. In addition, Gilt’s IT department wasn’t able to respond quickly to the needs of their other departments. Gilt replaced their 3PAR with Zadara’s VPSA connecting to AWS. The solution lowered storage costs by 85 percent, reduced the time to deploy new products from days to just minutes, and allowed Gilt to redeploy people from mundane jobs in IT storage management to higher-value, strategic positions within the business.

To read the entire Gilt case study, click here to download it.


OpEx vs. CapEx: Side by Side Comparison — Which is Better for Your Business? Download the Infographic


2. Netrepid

Netrepid delivers co-location, infrastructure, and application hosting services to numerous industries, including healthcare, finance, education, transportation, and government agencies. Their challenge was the need to eliminate CapEx limitations of their existing storage infrastructure, a need to improve agility in deploying services, a need for greater customer responsiveness, and a need for improvements in storage performance. Netrepid turned to Zadara’s VPSA Storage Array for on-premises-as-a-service storage. The results were a pure Op-Ex pay-as-you-go solution, with more predictable performance and a higher level of security. Plus, Netrepid is now able to deploy additional storage notes in minutes instead of weeks. They lowered their hardware needs by 81 percent and improved storage performance by a whopping 80 percent.

Interested in reading the complete Netrepid case study? Click here.

3. TIG

TIG is a provider of managed and transformational services and cutting-edge cloud and connectivity solutions. Based in Watford, England, TIG was in need of a cloud NAS solution that eliminated their inflexible and expensive CapEx-based storage arrays and allowed them to take advantage of OpEx-based storage-as-a-service. By partnering with Zadara Storage and Asigra Cloud Backup, TIG was able to achieve scalable, easy-to-deploy services and eliminate those hefty CapEx expenses. These solutions empowered the business to grow tremendously.

Visit this link to download and read the entire TIG case study.

4. RWE


RWE provides electrical power to 16 million Europeans and gas service to another 8 million customers.

RWE is one of the top five of Europe’s electricity and gas companies. They employ over 59,000 workers and supply services to more than 16 million electricity customers and almost 8 million gas customers. RWE needed to improve their storage performance, as well as the overall stability of their SAP and e-commerce applications. RWE also set the goal of shifting storage costs from CapEx to OpEx. The energy company replaced their EMC solution with Zadara’s VPSA with Backup to S3 (B2S3). This resulted in a cloud NAS solution that was delivered as-a-service for SAP application performance improvements of 20 percent, with increased stability and scalability.

Download the RWE case study to get more information.


Zadara Storage provides what traditional storage methods can’t. See what your storage environment is missing: Download Whitepaper — Software Defined Storage vs. Traditional SAN and NAS Storage


 

August 31, 2016

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