Innovation Through Infrastructure

May 3 2017   2:58PM GMT

How transparent tiering can help you reduce complexity and increase agility in hybrid cloud storage

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Cloud storage
Hybrid cloud

Cloud computing has caused a seismic shift in how IT teams manage and deploy storage. The ability to quickly add storage resources in the public cloud—and to use cloud services for backup, archiving and disaster recovery—has create a groundswell of demand for cloud storage.

The overall cloud storage market reached nearly $24 billion in 2016 and will grow at a compound rate of nearly 26% a year through 2021, when sales are expected to reach a staggering $75 billion.[1]

However, while cloud storage has delivered significant value to many businesses, it has also created its fair share of risks and challenges— particularly for the IT teams charged with managing storage.

With public cloud, IT runs the risk of not having full control over key areas such as costs and performance. According to one survey, between 30% and 45% of the money spent on public cloud is wasted.[2] Security and compliance are also potential problem areas with public cloud, particularly when users and line-of-business managers deploy cloud services as shadow IT separate from the corporate IT department.

Why hybrid cloud storage?

For these and a host of other reasons, organizations are increasingly embracing hybrid cloud storage models that use a mix of public cloud services and on-premises storage infrastructure. Hybrid cloud storage gives IT more control over costs, performance, security and compliance.

Hybrid cloud storage also enables IT to be much more strategic in how, where and when it uses the public cloud to offload and augment important functions such as disaster-recovery-as-a-service or backup-as-a-service.

One of the fundamental benefits of hybrid cloud storage is that it provides infrastructure teams with another storage tier that can be deployed and scaled quickly, easily and strategically. Not only can public cloud be used for second-tier storage functions such as archiving, backup and recovery; it can also be used to scale production environments and support new initiatives or business-critical workloads, such as DevOps.

The benefits of transparent tiering

To achieve these benefits IT teams have had to work long and hard to manage cloud storage in conjunction with existing on-premises infrastructure. They have not had access to technology that would give them a simple and elegant way to transparently use public cloud storage with the same ease in which they use a local disk array in a hybrid cloud environment.

But that was then, and this is now, and now that technology is available.

It is called “transparent cloud tiering” and it is being offered for the first time in the IBM Spectrum Scale solution. With transparent cloud tiering, cloud storage becomes another software-defined storage tier on the menu, along with flash, disk and tape.

Intelligent tiering capabilities allow file, block and object stores to migrate non-disruptively among all tiers— based on information lifecycle management criteria and policies established by the IT department.

With transparent cloud tiering, enterprises can easily bridge storage silos on-premises while adding the benefits of cloud storage to their overall storage solutions. Transparent cloud tiering also reduces IT complexity and increases agility, giving IT more control over performance and security.


As the use of public cloud storage keeps growing, IT teams continue to look for simple ways to incorporate public cloud services into their overall hybrid cloud storage strategies. The availability of transparent cloud tiering is an important breakthrough in adding versatility, simplicity and control to hybrid cloud storage models.

[1]Cloud Storage Market Worth $74.94 Billion USD by 2021,” marketsandmarkets, September 2016

[2]2017 State of the Cloud Report,” Rightscale. Feb. 15, 2017

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