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Cash-strapped IT departments turn to Storage as a Service (StaaS)

February 4, 2010 • Features

John-Hope Bailie, technical director at Demand Data

John Hope-Bailie, technical director of Demand Data, explains why data storage companies swear on Storage as a Service (StaaS) technology to meet the increased demand in the market.

While the amount of corporate data that needs to be stored, archived and retrieved in a seamless and secure way continues to grow at an astounding rate, many cash-strapped IT departments are turning to more cost-effective – and less traditional – solutions as they battle to keep their heads above the data flood.

Although data storage is still the fastest-growing area of the Information Technology (IT) world, companies are becoming more amenable to working with outsourcing companies whose cost-cutting Storage as a Service (StaaS) solutions are increasingly attractive in the current economic climate.

Outsourcing is a viable alternative, as demonstrated by the success of enterprise application development, CRM, business automation and other outsourced tools.

Up to now, says Hope-Bailie, companies have been uncomfortable with the idea of turning over their primary storage to an outsource vendor. There were security and control issues, and the technology did not address these issues satisfactorily.

However, new-generation StaaS offerings are succeeding because vendors have refocused their attention on secondary storage applications – such as backup and archiving – and organizations’ IT departments are more comfortable dealing with outsourced companies in these areas.

Moreover, fuelled by today’s more affordable bandwidth and capacity optimization technologies, StaaS is becoming a popular alternative to portable media, such as tape.

StaaS is often targeted at organizations with limited IT resources and budgets because its ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing. This coupled with the ability to fund backup from an operational budget make the StaaS approach an attractive alternative to on-premise backup implementations.

From a technical perspective StaaS is an Internet-driven application, hosted and operated at a central location and typically accessed via a browser-based interface. It is characterized as having a shared, scalable infrastructure that keeps data virtually separated.

In fact, StaaS is a hybrid. It combines the benefits of on- and off-premise components. For backup and archiving, the end user has on-premise control of software and, optionally, hardware. At the same time the user is able to leverage the infrastructures of the service provider, such as a data centre housing a powerful computer and extensive network and storage resources.

There are several other benefits associated with StaaS: convenience is one of them, as the stored information can be accessed from any Internet-connected device and information can be more easily managed, searched, retrieved and transferred.

Security is another. StaaS providers generally employ the latest technology, in certified data centers. In addition to the security that accompanies their certification, many providers offer 24/7 monitoring, management and reporting – capabilities that may be beyond the reach of many companies looking to manage their own data storage repositories.

In addition, there is no need to be concerned about upgrades, migrations or technology obsolescence as these issues are taken care of by the service provider.

An important advantage is StaaS ability to facilitate predictable management of capacity growth and operational costs, making it attractive to larger organizations looking to invest in a disaster recovery (DR) infrastructure.

Compared to a DR site, there are often greater efficiency and cost savings benefits to be gained from a StaaS implementation. For example, off-site data copies – accessible from any Internet-connected device or location – do provide an added measure of insurance in the event of a regional disaster.

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