ClearSky Data announced recently that it had launched a global storage network designed to simplify storage infrastructure and free IT departments from the usual hassles of backups and disaster recovery. Although the cloud was designed to address these issues, ClearSky argues that cloud technology alone falls short of giving businesses the performance they need.
One of the differences in ClearSky’s global data network from other services is that it categorizes a customer’s data as ‘hot’, ‘warm’, or ‘cold’ and uses a caching scheme that optimizes performance. The ‘hotter’ the data is, or more frequently it is accessed, the closer it physically resides to the customer. Hot data resides in a cache close to customer applications; warm data resides in a data center within 120 miles of the customer, and all data is kept at multiple locations, but would take longer to access.
This addresses latency problems that ClearSky says the typical cloud service has. With these providers, data is usually not optimized as it is with the hot-warm-cold caching scheme, forcing the customer to wait longer for data to arrive. Not only is there latency, but the wait times are often unpredictable, adding further to the frustration.
As a result, the cloud is used differently in practice than it is in theory. Instead of being the mission-critical, primary source of a company’s data, it is used as an archival or backup mechanism while the more critical data has gone back to being on-premises. ClearSky claims that in discussions with industry analysts, it’s possible that half of all cloud customers have gone this route.
If that is accurate, then the cloud as it is commonly deployed, would not have a bright future if it remained as-is. For a company to switch from on-premises data centers to the cloud there must be little to no difference in the perceived time it takes to obtain data in a cloud versus an on-premises environment.
Peter Norvig and Jeff Dean of Google (News - Alert) have made a rule-of-thumb calculation that the latency between Los Angeles and the Netherlands is about 150 milliseconds, which is over a roughly 9,000 km distance. This translates to about 1.7 milliseconds per 100 km. Even though data travels quickly through a cable, this performance becomes noticeable to users over long distances.
ClearSky recognizes the significance of this relationship between latency and distance and has responded with public cloud partnerships that place data centers closer to their customers. When combined with the hot-warm-cold caching scheme performance improves even further. If its claims about conventional cloud service are true, ClearSky’s global storage network will have a huge competitive advantage.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino