New Thinking and Best Practices for Scaling Big Data Storage
by Stefan Bernbo, Founder and CEO of Compuverde
Editor’s note: In this two part series the author discusses the impact of data storage on unified communications (UC) service providers. Part 1 describes the background and need for a different solution and in part 2 he gives his recommendation.
The allure of storing data in the Cloud is undeniable. The attractiveness of its convenience and lower costs is illustrated by the sharp rise of cloud computing across all kinds of online services. However, if the current trend of ever-increasing demand for storage continues, the free and cheap cloud services that consumers have become accustomed to will disappear altogether.
Unified communications service providers cannot continue to provide these services in the same way they have been. The demand for storage is growing at an unheard-of rate, creating new challenges that service providers must face. To account for the changing times, service providers must reevaluate their Big Data storage infrastructures with a focus on finding ways to scale and improve performance in a cost-effective manner. Without these adjustments, storage restrictions will be implemented on each user, prices will increase and there will be higher energy consumption overall.
Is Centralizing Data Worth the Costs?
Unified communication service providers can keep costs down with growing demand for storage by centralizing data, which eliminates the need for excessive equipment by having only one central data center. The data is moved to one single location and is accessible via the Internet from anywhere. Benefits of a single, large data center include improved Internet connections and better performance and reliability. While these improvements in performance may sound appealing, they come with some unfortunate downsides. Centralizing data makes scalability more difficult and expensive. Improving performance in this way requires purchasing more high-performance, specialized equipment, which increases costs and energy consumption that are difficult to control at scale.
Not Your Average Storage Demands
Service providers must manage far more users and greater performance demands than do enterprises. This makes solving performance problems like data bottlenecks a big concern for them. Although the average user of an enterprise system demands high performance, there are typically fewer users on the system at any given time, and those users can access their files directly through the network. Additionally, enterprise system users are generally accessing, sending and saving relatively low-volume files like document files and spreadsheets, which use less storage capacity with minimal performance load.
It is a different story for a cloud user outside the enterprise. The system is being accessed simultaneously over the Internet by exponentially more users, making the Internet itself a performance bottleneck. The cloud provider’s storage system must maintain performance across all of these users while scaling to each additional user. Adding to these challenges, the average cloud user is accessing and saving much larger files – such as music, photo and video files – than does the typical enterprise user.
The business implications of these storage demands are vast for unified communications service providers. To keep up with the propagating demands for increased data storage, service providers must be able to scale rapidly. Users have gotten used to free online storage and do not hesitate to leave providers that implement paywalls. In order to remain competitive, service providers need exceptionally cheap storage that scales easily and performs well.
Part 2 continues next month.
About the Author:
Stefan Bernbo is the founder and CEO of Compuverde. For 20 years, Stefan has designed and built numerous enterprise scale data storage solutions designed to be cost effective for storing huge data sets. From 2004 to 2010 Stefan worked within this field for Storegate, the wide-reaching Internet based storage solution for consumer and business markets, with the highest possible availability and scalability requirements. Previously, Stefan has worked with system and software architecture on several projects with Swedish giant Ericsson, the world-leading provider of telecommunications equipment and services to mobile and fixed network operators.