Cloud Storage Picks with Alibaba Cloud

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Storage is an essential cloud service replacing traditional on-premises storage hardware devices. Alibaba Cloud supplies out-of-the-box Cloud Disk storage options for products like Elastic Compute Service (ECS) and Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK). However, there is a wider range of Alibaba Cloud storage offerings to consider. In this blog, we are going to examine and demystify the products in the Alibaba Cloud Storage & CDN range.

First, we’ll look at cloud essential storage products such as Cloud Disk, Object Storage Service (OSS), and Apsara File Storage NAS. Then we’ll look at Alibaba Cloud’s enterprise specific products such as Hybrid Cloud Storage Array, Cloud Storage Gateway, Hybrid Backup Recovery, and petabyte level data migration service Data Transport which assists businesses migrating their data to the cloud.

Then we’ll check out the Content Delivery Network (CDN) product for efficient file serving across the global Internet. And the Dynamic route for CDN (DCDN) product, which is an add-on to CDN providing super-spec acceleration for dynamic content where necessary.

First, let’s look at Alibaba Cloud’s three standard data storage services: Block Storage (or Cloud Disk), Object Storage Service (OSS), and Apsara File Storage NAS.[1]

Block Storage

Block Storage (also known as Cloud Disk) ships with products like ECS instances and container services, and supports random and sequential read/write operations. Block Storage is available as a system or data disk depending on requirements and offers high-performance and low-latency, scalable, block-level storage.

Block Storage has two flavors: scalable cloud-distributed storage disks and local disks that attach onto the physical machine hosting the ECS instance. Both options support low latency, high availability, and durability but the local option services high performance business scenarios. The following table details the various disk storage options available with Block Storage.

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Block Storage meets the data storage needs of most business requirements. However, if you need to store massive amounts of unstructured data such as images, audios, and videos, you should consider Alibaba Cloud’s Object Storage Service or Apsara File Service NAS depending on your requirements.

Object Storage Service

Alibaba Cloud’s Object Storage Service (OSS)[2] is a secure storage, backup, and archive service for storing massive amounts of unstructured data. OSS eliminates the need for user created server storage and is simple to use with easy development tools. OSS takes care of data storage for small ecommerce websites and vast enterprise infrastructures.

With a guaranteed durability of 99.999999999% and availability of 99.95%, its RESTful multi-language APIs offer storage and accessibility anywhere on the Internet. OSS has elastic scaling of both capacity and processing power, and has a wide variety of storage classes to optimize cost.[3] OSS plugs into many Alibaba Cloud products and services. For example, ECS, CDN, Elastic MapReduce, and the Alibaba Cloud Apsara range of products feature OSS as a corner stone in their designs.

The following diagram shows an example architecture using Alibaba Cloud OSS storage with the aim of optimizing data delivery depending on data popularity.

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Optimizing data delivery with OSS

Apsara File Storage NAS

Alibaba Cloud Apsara Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a file storage service used with ECS, E-HPC, and container service products.[4] Like OSS, NAS stores massive amounts of unstructured data but also offers standard file access protocols such as the Network File System (NFS) protocol for Linux, and the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol for Windows.[5]

With 99.999999999% data reliability, no Single-Point-Of-Failure, and a guaranteed SLA of 99.9% availability, Apsara File Storage NAS is elastically scalable to petabytes. Supporting end-to-end permission management, NAS is suitable for file sharing tasks in industries such as radio, television, high-performance computing, and containerization. It is simple to use and cost effective.

The following diagram shows an example of a NAS distributed file storage environment that processes DNA sequencing.

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DNA Sequencing with NAS

Hybrid Cloud Storage Array

Alibaba Cloud’s HCSA is a managed global enterprise data product for businesses that have requirements for on-premises physical data centers but still wish to benefit from cloud services. HCSA integrates on-premises enterprise data centers with dedicated devices that hook up with Alibaba Cloud’s Storage Gateway for storage management.[6]

HCSA’s dedicated devices offer enterprise customers a simple deployment for scalable, secure, and compliant data configurations that support backup, archiving, disaster recovery, replication, deduplication, and compression ensuring cost-efficiency, reliability, and durability.[7] HCSA features include intelligent high-performance caching, cross-platform support, high-efficiency of data transport and validation, and robust logging and monitoring.

The following diagram shows the Hybrid Cloud Storage Array device connecting an on-premises, physical datacenter to Alibaba Cloud’s Storage Gateway offering a seamless plugin to the Alibaba Cloud ecosphere and beyond.

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Enable Alibaba Cloud with HCSA and Storage Gateway

Cloud Storage Gateway

Alibaba Cloud Storage Gateway, mentioned above, deploys in enterprise data centers and on the cloud.[8] It uses OSS buckets for backend storage but also offers the same file protocols as NAS and including iSCSI.[9] Required by the Hybrid Cloud Storage Array product just mentioned, it provides seamless connectivity to on-premises enterprise data centers.

Data Transport

Businesses moving to Alibaba Cloud often need help migrating data. Alibaba Cloud’s Data Transport product offers both self-service and managed set ups for transferring petabyte levels of data from on-premises data centers to Alibaba Cloud storage services such as OSS.[10]

Supporting NAS, HDFS, and FastDFS, Data Transport is fully supported by Alibaba Cloud’s Resource Access Management (RAM) and uses specialized devices for massive encrypted data transfers that ensure maximum compression and deduplication efficiency with small file merge technology.

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Transfer massive amounts of data with Data Transport

Hybrid Backup Recovery

Alibaba Cloud’s Hybrid Backup Recovery service offers a fully managed data backup service for Block Storage, OSS, NAS, and on-premises data as well as data stored in VMWare virtual machines, SAP HANA instances, and SQL Server databases.[11]

With full and incremental backup, deduplication, and encryption features, the Hybrid Backup Recovery integrated platform is an easy to use, low cost, and highly efficient option for secure backup and disaster recovery across on-premises and cloud infrastructures.

Hybrid Backup Recovery to Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud CDN

For content delivery, Alibaba Cloud offers clients a horizontally scalable, HTPPS secured, Content Delivery Network (CDN) product that eliminates network congestion across the Internet with more than 2800 nodes worldwide and 120Tbps bandwidth. With a background network of 10 Gigabyte NICs and SSD storage, response rate is less than a few milliseconds for super-powered low latencies.[12]

Common scenarios include live and on-demand streaming, mobile content delivery, downloading, and website acceleration.

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Alibaba Cloud CDN for website data acceleration

Alibaba Cloud CDN is available with another product, Data Transfer Plan, which may significantly reduce costs for high traffic usage.

Dynamic Route for CDN

When your enterprise serves dynamic content to interactive users, Alibaba Cloud’s Dynamic Content Delivery Network (DCDN) is a good option.[13] An enhanced CDN service, DCDN ensures low latency, minimal packet loss, and insignificant service instability while accelerating static and dynamic content delivery across your sites.

The main differences between these two CDN services are shown in the table below.

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Reliability in Challenging Times

We have examined the full Alibaba Cloud Storage & CDN range of products, with something for everyone; from basic in-house set ups to vast globally-distributed architectures.

Fully supporting clients throughout these challenging times,[14] and with a super reliable global infrastructure that is proving itself up to the task in international emergencies, is now the time to move your data storage and delivery requirements to Alibaba Cloud?

References

[1] https://partners-intl.aliyun.com/help/doc-detail/63136.htm
[2] https://www.alibabacloud.com/product/oss
[3] https://www.alibabacloud.com/help/doc-detail/31817.html
[4] https://www.alibabacloud.com/product/nas
[5] https://partners-intl.aliyun.com/help/doc-detail/63136.htm
[6] https://www.alibabacloud.com/product/storage-array
[7] https://www.alibabacloud.com/solutions/backup_archive
[8] https://www.alibabacloud.com/products/cloud-storage-gateway
[9] https://www.alibabacloud.com/help/doc-detail/53972.htm
[10] https://www.alibabacloud.com/product/data-transport
[11] https://www.alibabacloud.com/products/hybrid-backup-recovery
[12] https://www.alibabacloud.com/product/cdn
[13] https://www.alibabacloud.com/products/dcdn
[14] https://www.alibabacloud.com/campaign/fight-coronavirus-covid-19

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