Author: Iqbal M. Khan
Cloud computing, as defined in Wikipedia, is internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like the electricity grid. Cloud computing describes a new supplement, consumption and delivery model for IT services based on the Internet, and it typically involves the provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources as a service over the Internet.
Data storage is an important facility that cloud computing provides. Cloud storage can provide significant reduction in cost by drastically reducing the total costs of ownership of storage hardware and its associated management. It deflects the task of operational management of storage infrastructure to the cloud storage provider. Through this article, I intend to examine the possible scenarios in which the potentials of cloud based storage can be exploited with SharePoint, concerns and benefits when leveraging a cloud storage platform in tandem with SharePoint infrastructure and how StorageEdge lets these possibilities turn into reality.
Cloud offers more possibilities to extend the SharePoint capabilities with remarkable cost reduction with respect to storage. However, when cloud is considered as a storage tier for SharePoint content, the immediate concerns are regarding control and security. Since cloud-based storage shall mean that you are offloading the storage of your content outside your SharePoint environment, lack of control regarding the management of storage is a natural consideration.
So on one hand, it might appear as handing your content over to someone else to manage, whereas on the flipside, it surely provides them with an opportunity to reduce their storage costs remarkably by using much cheaper storage options and better management. To strike a fine balance of the two different perspectives presented above, you can host your SharePoint servers on premise, which can provide you with necessary control of your SharePoint environment. At the same time, the storage of BLOB content can be offloaded to the cloud-based storage which can provide you scalability, availability and reliability with significant cost reduction. BLOB externalization of StorageEdge can be used to archive your BLOB data on the cloud-based storage tiers thus offering control, flexibility and financial sense.
Figure 1: Hybrid SharePoint Infrastructure
While we talk of the combination of SharePoint and cloud storage to gain operational efficiency and cost reduction, it would be worthwhile to highlight some of the potential considerations which must be given due weight while making a decision for your enterprise SharePoint environment.
Similarly, some of the immediate benefits associated with storing SharePoint content off-premises in a cloud are:
Through its comprehensive BLOB externalization features, StorageEdge allows the enterprises to move content from its SQL database server to virtually any storage option including the cloud storage platforms. StorageEdge helps overcome many of the negative risks associated with cloud storage, as discussed above, through its extensive feature set some of the most relevant ones have also been discussed below. StorageEdge allows you to create a healthy mix of data storage with some of the data hosted locally while some data offloaded to the cloud.
Figure 2: Encryption Settings in StorageEdge
Figure 3: Shredding in StorageEdge
So, StorageEdge takes care of your hybrid SharePoint infrastructure management needs with provision of enough control and flexibility. It frees you of externalized BLOBs security worries. If proper care of the content externalized to cloud is not taken, the BLOBs security and control strategies could be compromised resulting in negative impact on the organization's overall IT governance.
Author: Iqbal M. Khan works for Alachisoft, a leading software company providing .NET and Java distributed caching, O/R Mapping and SharePoint Storage Optimization solutions. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.