Managing Your Data Growth by Migrating to Cloud Storage

Author

Goodenough, Michael

April 16, 2013

Despite attempts to limit and even delete stored data, archived business data continues to grow exponentially. Once companies have eliminated unnecessary data and implemented an information lifecycle management solution, they’ll eventually need a data storage solution. Compliance, data retention requirements, and the rising cost of hardware infrastructure are pushing businesses to explore alternatives to traditional storage. At some point, it makes sense to investigate the realities of a cloud storage solution. You must follow the cloud migration best practices in order to begin moving your data to cloud storage.

Preparing to Store Files in Cloud Storage

Once you make the decision to store data in the cloud, it’s time to create a migration plan, including a diagram to help organize your files, data sets, and current onsite storage systems. Ask your website administrators to catalog your current storage volumes and file types in use to determine which files you need to store in the cloud. Next give some consideration as to where your files currently reside and determine if storing them in U.S. East Coast and/or U.S. West Coast location(s) would help improve your geographic redundancy and end-user access time to extract data from cloud storage. Also, have your staff consider the authorization structure for managing these files (images, html, text, audio or video files) since you will have the ability to use permissions to manage files securely in cloud storage.

Do I Need a File Upload Application?

The actual data migration process is actually the next step in managing data growth in the cloud. Because the file size for an initial upload can be large (100GB to 500GB) and might use a sizeable percentage of your total Internet connection (1.54 Mbps, 10Mbps, 100Mbps,>100Mbps LAN speed), you’ll want to schedule the data upload event during off-business hours to avoid service interruptions. In order to simplify the file migration process, ask your IT administrator to investigate the installation and configuration of a file upload and manage application, such as EMC GeoDrive, Google Chrome Atmos, or AtmosFox plug-ins.

Accessing Cloud Storage: 3 Use Cases

Following are three examples of how various user types can potentially access cloud storage, depending upon the service and how your IT department sets it up.

1)      Software Developer Application Writing to Cloud Storage through RESTful API
Many software developers want cloud-based storage that will accept a RESTful Web Services API call to target storage for code and related assets. In this case they’ll find several services that do accept RESTful commands that integrate into development routines, giving flexible options for managing objects in the cloud. Software programming language bindings are also available to accelerate code development for popular languages, such as Python, Java, Ruby and others. The Python wrapper, for example, performs string signing, sends the HTTP requests, and parses the responses.

2)      IT Administrators Can Use Cloud Storage to Address Data Growth and Protections

Administrators can add additional security to their files with many cloud storage services by applying 256 bit AES encryption using the letter drive client. Once installed and configured, the letter drive application automatically restarts upon reboot and consumes very little idle system resources. Using the letter drive application in a server environment also provides a means to write and employ simple copy scripts or other routines that target files for storage in the cloud.

3)      Business Executives Can Use a Browser to Store and Manage Files

Executives can easily access cloud files using a Web browser with open source plug-ins from Google® and Firefox®, which feature a GUI showing real-time file transmission status bars and status messaging. They can use point-and-click settings to configure accounts and authentication credentials, plus navigation buttons to manage transferring files from local hard drives to the cloud.

Authenticating, Accessing and Uploading Files

No matter which access method you choose, most require token credentials and a host/API URL name. Cloud storage tokens are the equivalent of user IDs and passwords. A Full Token ID is a set of credentials comprised of a string of letters and numbers that enable the successful completion of requests (e.g., Create Objects, Delete Objects, etc.). The three credentials that are required to successfully authenticate include a Subtenant ID, User ID and Shared Secret. The Host/API URL is the address to which your client will send requests for uploads, downloads, deletions, etc. Many cloud services provide a management dashboard where you create and manage Tokens and get the Host/API URLs you must input.

Once you decide to migrate to cloud storage, be sure to create a strategy to direct the migration process. When evaluating cloud storage solutions, make certain that you’ll be supported by a knowledgeable service team to get you set up correctly at the onset, as well as in the long-term.

Mike Goodenough works for Savvis/savvisdirect, a CenturyLink company.

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