virtualisation & cloud services S-EXPRESS Paul Turner of Cloudian examines the role S3 is playing within public cloud strategies and beyond. W ith the explosion in the creation and retention of unstructured data, public cloud services have been increasing in popularity and importance as an affordable, high performance solution. Two big stats suggest it’s a market worth backing - IDG estimates unstructured data is growing at the rate of 62 per cent per year, with 93 per cent of all data in the digital ‘universe’ will be unstructured by 2020. According to Gartner, data volume is set to grow 800 per cent over the next five years and 80 per cent of it will reside as unstructured data, so this is clearly a trend with incredible momentum. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has prospered in this market since it was launched just over 10 years ago and has reached such a position of influence that it is shaping the cloud storage market as a whole, not just public cloud. At the heart of AWS is the Simple Storage Service, or S3, which supports many familiar global online services, including Spotify, Pinterest and Netflix. S3’s relevance and versatility has seen it adopted as a cloud storage platform by so many organisations that S3 compatibility is rapidly becoming a ‘must have’. In the decade since its launch, S3 has moved from startup service to de facto cloud storage standard. 22 The impact of S3 The rise of S3, which Amazon describes as ‘cost effective object storage’, has also helped to drive the adoption of object storage in the broader market. It’s deployed by enterprises for applications that require massive amounts of unstructured data, including content media storage, back up and archiving, data analytics, private cloud, file distribution and sharing. The sheer popularity of S3 means it has the largest number of applications written to the specification – today, more than 4,000 ISVs support S3. Most storage vendors have already announced that they connect to S3 or are working to do so. In addition to Amazon, there are a number of competing storage implementations, including Google Cloud Storage, Openstack Swift, Rackspace’s Cloud Files and Ceph, that are S3 compliant. These services use the standard programming interface but have different underlying technologies and architectures. The link between public and private storage solutions is also growing as more businesses opt for a hybrid approach to their storage needs. The dominance of S3 in the public cloud storage space means there are great advantages to using it for on premise solutions as well. For any organisation that uses object storage as part of a hybrid solution – and there are many – S3 has quickly become a generally accepted requirement for delivering affordable, high performance and scalable data storage. But compatibility is key. With S3 and object storage so heavily interlinked, there are compelling reasons why companies seeking to implement a cloud strategy, whether public, private or hybrid cloud, should take a closer look at the S3 compatibility credentials of their storage supplier. For organisations considering deploying an open-hybrid cloud and/or moving data between an S3 public cloud and the private cloud, it is of the utmost importance they understand the true extent to which a storage platform is compatible with the S3 standard compared to the level of compatibility claimed. With S3 quickly becoming the object storage standard, choosing the right storage platform for a hybrid or private cloud can save organisations money and shave months off the time to deploy. Enterprises will need to consider some drastic changes in storage infrastructure to tame the data explosion. For those with an unstructured data challenge, the development of the object storage market will be an important part of their strategy into the future. Given its central role in the evolution of object storage and its growing adoption in enterprise storage strategies, S3 is likely to become a ‘must have’ as organisations seek to balance the need to provision for ever increasing capacity, while keeping a lid on cost.