If it’s good enough for AWS – Legacy hardware redeployment

Storage hardware on a hill, while it's snowing

Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

For most businesses, cloud computing is a way of leveraging someone else’s cutting edge technology to build future-ready applications and services. So rumours about Amazon’s Glacier cold-storage service may come as something of a surprise.

According to an email sent by Amazon to ZDNet, the Glacier service is built using "inexpensive commodity hardware components", and is designed to be hardware agnostic. As a result, Amazon can offer long term storage for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte.

A cloud-based replacement for tape

Amazon's Glacier service is pitched as being a replacement for traditional on-site tape archive technologies. Glacier is best suited to storing files and data that must be retained for compliance reasons, but which is rarely (if ever) needed for line-of-business operations.

Glacier even behaves like a tape archive system, requiring three to five hours to complete a retrieval request. These delays have led many to assume (incorrectly) that Amazon are using physical tape drives – The Register even ran an anonymous claim that Glacier runs on a farm of LTO-6 tape autoloaders.

Lessons for your business

The hardware agnostic nature of Glacier is further evidence that software defined storage has a part to play at every level in the modern IT data center. And it is an approach that any business can leverage to reduce their storage costs – particularly when protected by a third party support and maintenance agreement, rather than an OEM equivalent. This approach allows them to realize a further three to five years from post-warranty hardware while it still performs an important role.

Amazon is clear that Glacier uses disks for storage, but little else official is known. Some experts suggest that Amazon may well be using legacy systems left over from internal hardware refreshes to increase capacity.

Clearly this is an approach that businesses can replicate in-house themselves. By redeploying reliable hardware in a cold storage role, your business can increase capacity with very little outlay. In the meantime, you retain full control of your data and can conceivably recall information more quickly than the three to five hours required for a Glacier retrieval job to complete.

As your business carries out hardware refreshes, it pays to consider how additional value can be extracted from the older hardware. It could be that your business can solve its cold storage problems using the assets you already have at hand. And by partnering with CDS for support and maintenance of your post-warranty assets, you could realize up to five more years of return on your hardware investment.

Next steps

To learn more about redeploying legacy hardware in an archiving role, please get in touch.