How to future-proof data storage in a cloud-native world

From the MRI that leads to early disease detection or the genome data that helps unlock a cure, to the convenience of planning our daily lives online for work, family, travel, and entertainment, it goes without saying that our world is driven by data

Recent years have seen three fundamental shifts: in how data is stored and consumed, in the democratisation of data storage, and in the rise of cloud-native technologies, which are specifically designed for a cloud computing architecture. According to IDC, by 2023, over 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches – the same as the number of apps developed in total over the last 40 years. As a result, enterprises must rethink their approach to data storage.

A shift in how data is stored and consumed: The “edge” is an area of dramatic growth in technology innovation and consumption. Data is now created, stored, and consumed anywhere and everywhere. People generate data both in their business and personal lives, but we now also see machine-generated data being created at a massive scale in manufacturing locations, utilities, vehicles, etc. Data is not only created, but also stored and consumed in our homes, cars, on cruise ships, in airplanes, hospitals, sports stadiums and many more locations.

The democratisation of data storage: Ten to twenty years ago, the storage administrator was responsible for data storage and protection in the enterprise. The need to understand how data is stored, its formats, as well as how it is accessed and consumed gave rise to a highly specialised and deeply knowledgeable world of users, fluent in technical data storage acronyms.

Increasingly, the process of capturing, protecting, and giving access to data storage is no longer the sole domain of the storage administrator or enterprise IT. Today, application owners, and DevOps teams make critical decisions regarding IT data storage and management infrastructure and solutions. This change in user persona demands solutions that are simple to operate and do not require deep storage expertise.

The rise of cloud-native:There has been a clear upsurge in new business applications over recent years. We used to hear about enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business process re-engineering (BPR), while today the focus is on data lakes, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Data was historically siloed and directly associated with a single application or application suite; today data has become a resource that is shared, studied, and recombined in unexpected ways with each new application.

These new workloads are known as cloud-native. They utilise distributed services packaged and deployed as containers and orchestrated on Kubernetes. This new approach promises efficiency, scalability, flexibility, and portability. The latter is critical and will allow software applications and infrastructure to support the new world of “data everywhere”.

The cloud-native wave is transforming the way in which storage is accessed, provisioned, and managed. This is a world of software services and interactions between services through well-defined interfaces or APIs. The storage sector has traditionally been one where standard interfaces have been adopted, for example the well-known SMB and NFS protocols in the file storage area.

For cloud-native applications, we see a natural fit of API-based access to storage, which object storage supports naturally through its RESTful APIs. The popular Amazon S3 API is now fully adopted by independent software vendors (ISVs) and storage vendors alike for the cloud, the data centre and for the edge. APIs are also relevant for storage management and monitoring, and API-based automation in this area is likely to become another central aspect in this cloud-native wave.

A future-proof storage model for a cloud-native world

Providing portability, API-based access, automation, and limitless scalability, object storage combines all the right ingredients required in the new cloud-native world. Next-generation object storage solutions can and will push the envelope in offering increasingly higher levels of performance, hand in hand with a simplicity of operations and ubiquity of access that ensures a broad range of users can fully exploit them. Cloud-native object storage software will enable a new generation of cloud-native applications through their entire lifecycle, from development and test to production deployments, wherever data lives.

About the Author

Brad King is co-founder and field CTO at Scality. In an accelerated world with increasing complexity, managing data at massive scale requires an elevated sense of design and orchestration. Scality has built a storage and data management ecosystem to protect and propel our customers into the digital age. Scality storage unifies data management from edge to core to cloud. Our market-leading file and object storage software protects data on-premises and in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Featured image: ©Catlin