Why Use Multiple Clouds?

As storing data in the cloud has become ubiquitous and mature, many organizations have adopted a multi-cloud strategy. Eliminating dependence on a single cloud platform is quite a compelling case with benefits of increased reliability, availability, performance, and the avoidance of vendor lock-in and/or specific vendor vulnerabilities to name a few. In short, spanning multiple clouds ensures a business does not have all its eggs (i.e. data) in one basket.

But multi-cloud environments are not without challenges. Taking advantage of the benefits without increasing complexity requires a strategy that ensures applications are not tightly coupled to cloud-specific technologies. Supporting a storage abstraction layer that insulates the application from the underlying cloud provider’s interfaces allows an application to be easily used with multiple clouds. It allows storage features specific to a cloud to be exposed in a standardized manner and enables data to be transparently accessed and migrated as needed in order to take advantage of cloud-specific features without the application being aware of the underlying mechanics, thus reducing or eliminating the limits and vulnerabilities of any one cloud.

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Storage at the Edge Q&A

The ability to run analytics from the data center to the Edge, where the data is generated and lives creates new use cases for nearly every business. The impact of Edge computing on storage strategy was the topic at our recent SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative (CSTI) webcast, “Extending Storage to the Edge – How It Should Affect Your Storage Strategy.” If you missed the live event, it’s available on-demand. Our experts, Erin Farr, Senior Technical Staff Member, IBM Storage CTO Innovation Team and Vincent Hsu, IBM Fellow, VP & CTO for Storage received several interesting questions during the live event. As promised, here are answers to them all.

Q. What is the core principle of Edge computing technology?

A. Edge computing is an industry trend rather than a standardized architecture, though there are organizations like LF EDGE with the objective of establishing an open, interoperable framework. Edge computing is generally about moving the workloads closer to where the data is generated and creating new innovative workloads due to that proximity. Common principles often include the ability to manage Edge devices at scale, using open technologies to create portable solutions, and of ultimately doing all of this with enterprise levels of security. Reference architectures exist for guidance, though implementations can vary greatly by industry vertical.

Q. We all know connectivity is not guaranteed – how does that affect these different use cases? What are the HA implications?

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Genomics Compute, Storage & Data Management Q&A

Everyone knows data is growing at exponential rates. In fact, the numbers can be mind-numbing. That’s certainly the case when it comes to genomic data where 40,000PB of storage each year will be needed by 2025. Understanding, managing and storing this massive amount of data was the topic at our SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative webcast “Moving Genomics to the Cloud: Compute and Storage Considerations.” If you missed the live presentation, it’s available on-demand along with presentation slides.

Our live audience asked many interesting questions during the webcast, but we did not have time to answer them all. As promised, our experts, Michael McManus, Torben Kling Petersen and Christopher Davidson have answered them all here.


Q. Human genomes differ only by 1% or so, there’s an immediate 100x improvement in terms of data compression, 2743EB could become 27430PB, that’s 2.743M HDDs of 10TB each. We have ~200 countries for the 7.8B people, and each country could have 10 sequencing centers on average, each center would need a mere 1.4K HDDs, is there really a big challenge here?

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Can Cloud Storage and Big Data Live Happily Ever After?

“Big Data” has pushed the storage envelope, creating a seemingly perfect relationship with Cloud Storage. But local storage is the third wheel in this relationship, and won’t go down easy. Can this marriage survive when Big Data is being pulled in two directions? Should Big Data pick one, or can the three of them live happily ever after? This will be the topic of discussion on October 21, 2021 at our live SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies webcast, “Cloud Storage and Big Data, A Marriage Made in the Clouds.” Join us as our SNIA experts will cover:

  • A short history of Big Data
  • The impact of edge computing
  • The erosion of the data center
  • Managing data-on-the-fly
  • Grid management
  • Next-gen Hadoop and related technologies
  • Supporting AI workloads
  • Data gravity and distributed data  

Register today! Our speakers will be ready to take your questions and black-tie is not required for this wedding!

Deploying Confidential Computing Q&A

The third live webcast in our SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative confidential computing series focused on real-world deployments of confidential computing and included case studies and demonstrations. If you missed the live event, you can watch it on demand here. Our live audience asked some interesting questions, here are our expert presenters’ answers.

Q.  What is the overhead in CPU cycles for running in a trusted enclave?

A. We have been running some very large machine learning applications in secure enclaves using the latest available hardware, and seeing very close to “near-native” performance, with no more than 5% performance overhead compared to normal non-secure operations. This performance is significantly better in comparison to older versions of hardware. With new hardware, we are ready to take on bigger workloads with minimal overhead. 

Also, it is important to note that encryption and isolation are done in hardware at memory access speeds, so that is not where you will tend to see a performance issue. Regardless of which secure enclave hardware capability you choose, each uses a different technology to manage the barrier between secure enclaves. The important thing is to look at how often an application crosses the barrier, since that is where careful attention is needed.

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Moving Genomics to the Cloud

The study of genomics in modern biology has revolutionized the discovery of medicines and the COVID pandemic response has quickened genetic research and driven the rapid development of vaccines. Genomics, however, requires a significant amount of compute power and data storage to make new discoveries possible. Making sure compute and storage are not a roadblock for genomics innovations will be the topic of discussion at the SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative live webcast “Moving Genomics to the Cloud: Compute and Storage Considerations.”

This session will feature expert viewpoints from both bioinformatics and technology perspectives with a focus on some of the compute and data storage challenges for genomics workflows. 

We will discuss:

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Extending Storage to the Edge

Data gravity has pulled computing to the Edge and enabled significant advances in hybrid cloud deployments. The ability to run analytics from the datacenter to the Edge, where the data is generated and lives, also creates new use cases for nearly every industry and company. However, this movement of compute to the Edge is not the only pattern to have emerged. How might other use cases impact your storage strategy?

That’s the topic of our next SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative (CSTI) live webcast on August 25, 2021 “Extending Storage to the Edge – How It Should Affect Your Storage Strategy” where our experts, Erin Farr, Senior Technical Staff Member, IBM Storage CTO Innovation Team and Vincent Hsu, IBM Fellow, VP & CTO for Storage will join us for an interactive session that will cover:

  • Emerging patterns of data movement and the use cases that drive them
  • Cloud Bursting
  • Federated Learning across the Edge and Hybrid Cloud
  • Considerations for distributed cloud storage architectures to match these emerging patterns
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An Easy Path to Confidential Computing

To counter the ever-increasing likelihood of catastrophic disruption and cost due to enterprise IT security threats, data center decision makers need to be vigilant in protecting their organization’s data. Confidential Computing is architected to provide security for data in use to meet this critical need for enterprises today.

The next webcast in our Confidential Computing series is “How to Easily Deploy Confidential Computing.” It will provide insight into how data center, cloud and edge applications may easily benefit from cost-effective, real-world Confidential Computing solutions. This educational discussion on July 28, 2021 will provide end-user examples, tips on how to assess systems before and after deployment, as well as key steps to complete along the journey to mitigate threat exposure.  Presenting will be Steve Van Lare (Anjuna), Anand Kashyap (Fortanix), and Michael Hoard (Intel), who will discuss:

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Confidential Computing FAQ

Recently, the SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative (CSTI) I hosted a lively panel discussion “What is Confidential Computing and Why Should I Care?” It was the first in a 3-part series of Confidential Computing security discussions. You can learn about the series here.  The webcast featured three experts who are working to define the Confidential Computing architecture, Mike Bursell of the Enarx Project, David Kaplan at AMD, and Ronald Perez from Intel.

This session served as an introduction to the concept of Confidential Computing and examined the technology and its initial uses. The audience asked several interesting questions. We’re answering some of the more basic questions here, as well as some that did not get addressed directly during the live event.

Q. What is Confidential Computing?  How does it complement existing security efforts, such as the Trusted Platform Model (TPM)?

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The Confidential Computing Webcast Series

The need for improved data security and privacy seems to grow bigger every day. The continuous attacks and bad actors from hackers and rogue governments are increasing the demand from businesses and consumers alike to make stronger data protection a top priority. In the midst of this need, Confidential Computing has emerged as a solution for stronger data security and is gaining traction from a variety of start-ups and established companies. 

The SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative (CSTI) will be presenting a series of new webcasts on Confidential Computing. This three-part series will provide an introduction to Confidential Computing, dive into its unique approach for protecting data in use as well as use cases. I will be hosting the first discussion “What is Confidential Computing and Why Should I Care?” on June 9, 2021 featuring Mike Bursell, Co-founder, Enarx Project; David Kaplan of AMD and Ronald Perez at Intel – all members of the Confidential Computing Consortium. This panel discussion will detail the need for Confidential Computing, explain the technology basics, how it’s used, and why you should consider deploying some of these new concepts. These industry-expert panelists are the architects of Confidential Computing and they will be ready to take your questions. I encourage you to register today.

The second session “Confidential Compute: Protecting Data in Use” will follow two weeks later on June 23, 2021 with a focus on how Confidential Computing works in multi-tenant cloud environments and how sensitive data can be isolated from other privileged portions of the stack. It will also provide insight on applications in financial services, healthcare industries, and broader enterprise applications. Glyn Bowden of HPE will moderate this session with our expert presenters Paul O’Neill and Parviz Peiravi from Intel. You can register here for this session.

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