Net storage, cautious days

Net storage, cautious days

The proliferation of rich media on the Internet is creating new challenges for Web site owners and new opportunites for the channel in Internet storage provision. But likely candidates are cautious about launching into the emerging field.

Because rich-media files are much larger than static Web objects, they tax storage and network infrastructures. Web sites typically have addressed storage requirements through traditional network-attached storage and storage-area networks. A new type of offering, known as Internet-based storage or Internet storage infrastructure, is designed to meet the challenges of hosting rich media by using a bottoms-up approach to develop a new type of WAN storage infrastructure.

Internet-based storage, which is derived from distributed object technology, lets companies avoid building their own legacy storage infrastructures. Companies can sign up with an Internet-based storage service vendor and buy storage as required.

By using enhanced features such as geographic mirroring, load balancing and a global file system, Internet-based storage vendors can offer new services.

An Internet storage infrastructure consists of strategically placed data centres serving data from hot storage to end users. Subscriber data is distributed and mirrored across data centres that serve information to users from the best location.

A key component of an Internet storage infrastructure is global load-balancing technology, which directs users to the optimal global data centre. Load-balancing technology is further used to direct users to the optimal server cluster within that data centre. End users can access the data from the nearest data centre or through the host's Web servers.

Through mirroring, redundant hardware and intelligent networks, Internet-based storage providers can offer customers high reliability in the form of service-level agreements. However, solid disaster-recovery systems are essential in order to protect customer data in an outage.

The distributed nature of the Internet storage infrastructure makes it highly complementary to existing content-delivery networks. Sites hosting infrequently accessed data can use Internet storage services to store and deliver the masses of infrequently accessed data, while utilising the edge cache network of a content-delivery network service provider to distribute high-demand content.

By combining content-delivery network services and Internet storage services, Web sites can improve performance, reduce costs, and off-load the burdens of storage scalability, bandwidth and IT staffing. The Internet storage provider owns and manages the global file system, storage equipment, network operations and support.

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