How the big five storage array makers tier data to the cloud

In recent articles we have looked at the extent of cloud storage products and services available. These have included the file, block and object storage available from the main cloud providers, and virtual storage appliances available in the cloud from the big storage array makers.

In this article we take a snapshot of integration between on-premise storage arrays and the cloud.

Methods used tend to break down into three main categories.

First, there are features and functionality that offer actual tiering to the cloud with various degrees of automation, mostly aimed at migrating inactive data off to cheaper storage.

Second, there are products and features that offer some form of backup and archiving to the cloud, through software or hardware appliances.

Finally, some suppilers – notably IBM and Hitachi Vantara – focus their cloud tiering efforts around a product that provides some kind of on-ramp to the cloud, as a facilitator of hybrid- or multi-cloud storage.

Dell EMC

Dell EMC’s midrange/enterprise Unity storage arrays offer file and block tiering to the cloud, “seamlessly” according to its publicity materials, using its Cloud Tiering Appliance (CTA).

This sits between the Unity on-prem deployment and the cloud. Files are migrated to the cloud according to user-defined policies and an 8kb stub left on the on-prem hardware. For block storage, snapshots are taken and these can be migrated to the cloud while the originals are erased. The snapshots can be restored to the original system or any other.

Cloud tiering from CTA is supported for Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, and IBM Cloud Object Storage as well as Dell EMC’s Virtustream and Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage.

Dell EMC also offers CloudArray, which is a cloud tiering tool available as hardware or a software virtual appliance. CloudArray – gobbled up from TwinStrata in 2014 – can work with any SAN or NAS on-prem hardware, and can tier data to public cloud. It also offers snapshots, data deduplication and encryption functionality.

In addition, Unity arrays can be managed from the cloud and also come with Cloud IQ, a free cloud-based software-as-a-service suite with predictive analytics, alerts and remediation suggestions. Cloud IQ is supported in Unity, SC, XtremIO, VMAX, and PowerMax storage hardware.

Dell EMC’s scale-out NAS product, Isilon, has CloudPools, which allows policy-based automated tiering of data to the three key cloud providers as well as to private clouds.

Xtremio all-flash systems can tier data off to Dell EMC’s Virtustream, as can Unity and VMAX. No such option is available for PowerMax NVMe-equipped arrays but then if data is on those it’s not likely to be cold anyway. Dell EMC doesn’t seem to provide any cloud tiering for its SC series storage arrays. 


HPE’s StoreOnce data protection appliances have a feature called HPE Cloud Bank Storage. This offers use of the cloud as a target for backup and archiving, with change block tracking and data deduplication.

Cloud Bank Storage works with AWS and Microsoft Azure as well as private clouds built with Scality (see below) and can restore to any – presumably HPE – system in case of recovery from a disaster.

HPE 3Par publicity refers to use of Cloud Bank Storage as a “cloud tier” but it’s pretty clear this is backup/DR capability rather than a storage tier as such.

With HPE’s acquisition of Nimble Storage, it gained that company’s Cloud Volumes offering. This sees customers able to set up and provision Nimble flash-driven cloud storage instances in the Azure and AWS clouds. HPE calls it a tier, but there doesn’t seem to be any automated tiering functionality between on-premises deployments and Cloud Volumes.

HPE’s Scalable Object Storage – based on Scality’s RING architecture – presumably comes with the Zenko multi-cloud controller, announced in March.


IBM’s link between on-premises storage and the public cloud is IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud.

This is the public cloud-capable update of IBM’s venerable SAN Volume Controller, formerly a hardware storage virtualisation box, but now runnable as a software appliance in the cloud and on-premise.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud allows access to the public cloud – only IBM’s own, for now – from IBM storage to move data between on-premises datacentres and the cloud, to use the cloud for disaster recovery, devops and to provide asynchronous and synchronous remote replication.

Hitachi Vantara

Hitachi Vantara’s VSP all-flash F and hybrid flash G series arrays offer automated tiering via the company’s own Hitachi Content Platform to the Amazon, Microsoft Azure and IBM clouds. The focus is on reduction of storage costs by movement of inactive data to the cloud.

Hitachi Content Platform is based on an object storage platform, which can run in hardware and software versions and operate as private cloud storage with access to Azure, Amazon and Google clouds. With access from existing storage infrastructure it acts as an on-ramp to public cloud storage.


For NetApp’s FAS all-flash and hybrid flash hardware it offers FabricPool. This allows tiering of inactive data off to public cloud storage, with Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure Blob Storage supported, as well as private clouds. Tiering is automated and policies for data movement can be set on per-volume basis.

NetApp’s E-Series all-flash arrays can use NetApp SANtricity Cloud Connector for block-based backup, copy, and restore of E-Series volumes to an Amazon S3 account, with RESTful API job management of backup and restore tasks.

NetApp doesn’t appear to provide any connection to the cloud for its Solidfire all-flash storage. But then that may be because Solidfire is targeted as storage for those that want to provide cloud storage. 

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Printing, document capture and compliance risk in the GDPR era

From the point of view of compliance, printing and document capture devices are everywhere, and range from multi-functional printers and scanners to mobile devices carried by employees.

And every time a document is captured or printed it resides in storage on a device or somewhere else on the network. That risk needs to be dealt with, in terms of compliance.

In this podcast Mathieu Gorge, CEO of Vigitrust, talks about the risks inherent in an organisation’s printing and document capture environment – including from mobile devices – and how to incorporate it into your GDPR risk assessment strategy.

Antony Adshead: What are the storage and compliance concerns in printing and document capture?

Mathieu Gorge: First of all we should recognise that printing and document capture are the forgotten parts of the internal and distributed network from a compliance and storage perspective.

If we break it down, what really is printing and document capture. It’s essentially scanners, printers, whether networked or wireless, multi-functional printers/devices and mobile devices with cameras.

So, if I look at a standard multi-functional device, for example, it allows you to printing, scanning, scan-to-fax, scan-to-email and follow-me printing, which was created by HP a few years ago.

Scan-to-fax and scan-to-email is where you scan a document and it automatically sends it to your fax machine or to your email. If you do that it means your document ends up on your mail server and also on your backups.

With regards to follow-me printing the idea is that you send a printing document to a queue, whether in the cloud or on the server within your network, and you maybe travel to another office, authenticate on the printer and the document is there so you don’t have to carry it with you.

As you can see, from a storage and compliance perspective, you start with one document and you end up with tens of versions of the document, which, again, end up being backed up.

Finally, from a mobile device perspective, all devices now come with cameras and it’s not unusual to use them to take a picture of a document and then email it or text it.

Again, that creates a headache from a compliance and storage perspective, because now the document is stored on a device and also on your network, and may also end up being stored on the network of the mobile provider.

And so from a GDPR perspective, it’s important to map out how you actually use those devices, where they are and if you are taking appropriate security measures to protect that is sent or transmitted or stored from the device.

Storage and compliance

Adshead: How do you ensure your printing and document capture environment is managed appropriately from a storage and compliance perspective?

Gorge: You need to make sure the printing and document capture environment is part of your risk strategy and of the technology that will protect your environment. And so if you look at GDPR again, it requires you to perform a privacy impact assessment (PIA), should you believe the information or the data being dealt with could be put at risk.

And if you look at a printer or multi-functional device that is networked there is potential risk, so you need to include that in your PIA. To do that you need to do an asset inventory that’s going to allow you to see at the click of a button all the scanners, IP printers, multi-functional devices and any type of mobile device whether it’s owned by the employee or the company.

The next thing you need to do is to put in technical security around this: Firewalls, strong authentication, automatic purge of hard drives and so on. You can then train people so they understand the risks with regards to confidentiality, integrity and the availability of that data – the famous CIA concept – and provide them with dos-and-don’ts.

The best way to do that is through e-learning. For example, Vigitrust offers a very short dos-and-don’ts on secure printing that can be added to a traditional security awareness programme.

Finally, you shouldn’t forget that you need to secure the devices from the physical perspective. The devices have hard drives that are as big as hard drives were in laptops from two to three years ago, and you can appreciate the amount of data that is being potentially being saved on those drives. It is important nobody can get physical access to those drives, as well as logical access.

So, it’s a mix of mapping the assets, training people, securing the physical hardware and then securing it from a logical perspective. 

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Apple iPhones get bigger and pricier, Watch turns to health

CUPERTINO, Calif. (Reuters) – Apple Inc introduced its largest-ever iPhone and a watch that detects heart problems on Wednesday in an attempt to get customers to upgrade to more expensive devices in the face of stagnant global demand for smartphones.

The relatively small changes to its lineup, following last year’s overhauled iPhone X, were widely expected by investors and the company’s shares ended down 1.2 percent at $221.07.

The strategy has been successful, helping Apple’s stock to rise more than 30 percent this year and making it the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a market value of more than $1 trillion.

Apple’s new iPhone XS, pronounced “ten S,” has a 5.8-inch (14.7-cm) screen, and will be sold at a starting price of $999. The XS Max, the largest iPhone to date and one of the biggest on the market, has a 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) screen, and will start selling at $1,099.

“They have finally added a larger-screen phone so that they can directly compete with the Galaxy Note9 products,” Gartner analyst Annette Zimmermann said at the event at Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters, referring to rival Samsung Electronics which has led the trend toward big-screen phones.

“The larger screen will be very important in China to turn around the trend there, because they have lost some share in the last few years, partly because of screen size,” she added.

Apple also introduced a lower-cost 6.1-inch (15.5 cm) iPhone XR made of aluminum, at a starting price at $749.

Graphic: Apple stock performance six months ahead of each iPhone launch –

The iPhone XS Max’s display size is 26 percent larger than the previous largest iPhone display, marking it the largest increase in screen size since 2014, wrote analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures in a note.

This year’s three top phones are all more expensive than last year’s models.

With two of them starting at $999 or higher in the United States, Apple appears to be taking advantage of a strong U.S. economy, low unemployment, and rising household wealth. The median U.S. household income rose for a third straight year in 2017 to the highest on record since 1967 by one measure, government data showed on Wednesday.


Looking for ways to lessen reliance on phones, which represent more than 60 percent its revenue, Apple opened its event by announcing the new Apple Watch Series 4 with edge-to-edge displays, like its latest phones, and they are more than 30 percent bigger than displays on current models.

It is positioning the new watch as a more comprehensive health device, able to take an electrocardiogram to detect an irregular heartbeat and start an emergency call automatically if it detects a user falling down, potentially appealing to older customers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it worked with Apple to develop apps for the Apple Watch and has been taking steps to ease the regulatory pathway for companies seeking to create digital healthcare products.

As many as 6.1 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, a heart disease involving irregular heart rhythm for which the Watch could offer an early warning. That number is expected to double by 2050 as the population gets older, according to the American Heart Association.

A demonstration of the newly released Apple products is seen following the product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

“This does have a lot of potential for patients,” said Dr. Michael Valentine, president of the American College of Cardiology and a cardiologist at Central Health in Lynchburg, Virginia. “Clinicians face patients every day with palpitations, rapid heart rates, and other symptoms,” and the doctors want a more portable monitoring and recording system.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Joanne Wuensch added that physicians would be unlikely to make medical treatment based on data from the watch, though it could encourage patients to see cardiologists.

Healthcare technology analyst Ross Muken at Evercore said many companies were developing monitoring devices. “This update really establishes the company’s increasing efforts to push the watch as a serious medical device,” he said of Apple.

Shares of fitness device rival Fitbit Inc fell 6.9 percent after the Series 4 announcement on Wednesday.

Apple’s event was held at the Steve Jobs Theater in its new circular headquarters in Cupertino, California, named after the company’s co-founder who wowed the world with the first iPhone in 2007.

Executives made no mention of a wireless charging mat, or content deals for Apple TV, as some industry analysts had expected.

“We all knew this was going to be a transitional but not transformational phone update,” said Trip Miller, managing partner at hedge fund Gullane Capital, which owns Apple shares.

Graphic: Apple’s Growth Seen Slowing –

Slideshow (26 Images)

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in Cupertino, California; Additional reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles, Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru, Nadine Schimroszik in Berlin and Yasmeen Abutaleb in Washington; Writing by Bill Rigby; Editing by Peter Henderson and Nick Zieminski

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