Build Hybrid Cloud Storage, with the Synology DiskStation Manager

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Overview

This article will illustrate how an SME can leverage the Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM), the Operating System for Synology Products, to build a Hybrid Cloud, while also defining ‘What is a Hybrid Cloud’.

 

Introduction

Hybrid Cloud, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, there are a lot of buzz words floating around right now, given the power of modern computing power; and the industry is rapidly changing to adopt the latest technologies available to further increase productivity and efficiently with today’s distributed workforce. But first and foremost, what is a Hybrid Cloud? In order to properly define it, let’s take a look at the differences between a Public Cloud and Private Cloud.

 

The Public Cloud: Convenient Subscription-based Service


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A Public Cloud is essentially where services, hardware, software or data storage are hosted by a 3rd party, and typically accessed over the Internet, with or without cost. Examples of Public Cloud File Hosting Services include the popular Dropbox and Google Drive service. The infrastructure for these services is not owned or managed by the business utilizing it. Using a public cloud offers great convenience for a small business, as storage or services is quickly accessible, there’s typically limited or no configurations to commit with the existing environment, and almost no maintenance required for the public cloud.

While the public cloud offers great convenience, it may not offer the best data security as the data is stored in a resource that is outside of a business’ management.

 

The Private Cloud: Increased Security and Management of data


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A Private Cloud exists when services, software, or data storage is held on-site within the business infrastructure, which offers a greater amount of security and management. The private cloud can be made remotely accessible so that a business with its distributed workforce can access the data anywhere over the Internet. An example of remote access with the Synology DSM is with File Station via HTTP, or WebDAV or the venerable FTP protocol. All of these three protocols support encrypting data in transit using SSL.

 

The Distributed Private Cloud


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Another example of a private cloud is Synology Cloud Station, where bi-directional syncing on Synology products allows for many sites to have copies files on multiple Synology products. Changes on one Synology product will propagate to another Synology product through Cloud Station and Synology QuickConnect (a data relay service). Data being sent in this manner can be encrypted with SSL and SSH. An advantage with bi-directional syncing is that the Remote Sales offices in this example will have high performance access to the data locally, reducing latency times to have access to data, increasing overall office productivity.

 

Tier Data Definitions

Before discussing the Hybrid Cloud, I am going to define “Tiered Data” which allows for granularity of storage data management. This terminology was originally created to serve the needs of data backup, which is determining which data to back up when bandwidth or storage capacity is limited. As it works well for handling backups, I’ve decided to use this terminology for handling Cloud-based storage.

  • Tier-1 Data: Data which cannot be recreated (or extremely costly to recreate), such as professional photography, composed media/documents, intellectual property, patents, trademarks information, thesis papers, research data.
  • Tier-2 Data: Data which must be legally handled according to the industry standards of that type of data, such as accounting information, PCI-data, PHI, PII, tax records
  • Tier-3 Data: Data for public use, or non-sensitive information which would be time-consuming or inconvenient to reproduce or recreate, such as commercially produced multimedia files, marketing collaboration, journalism articles, web-sites.

 

The Hybrid Cloud: taking advantage of the Public and Private Cloud offerings

A Hybrid Cloud is a combination of a Public and Private Cloud, to be utilized by any sized business; to take advantages of each technology. Public cloud storage offers great convenience, versatility of sharing and storing of consumable data on the Internet. It best used for non-sensitive “Tier-3” data such as multimedia content, marketing information, collaborative works or even websites.

For a business that is working with “sensitive Tier-1 or Tier-2 data”, such as information which is difficult to create, or intellectual property, scientific research data, a business should consider using a private cloud to handle the storage of that data. Those who want a private cloud are valuing security/management/auditing of data, over the convenience and minimal maintenance overhead of a public cloud.

In today’s security conscious world, it is important for a small business to consider the benefits of both technologies to ensure that they can be best applied with the storage concerns that they are looking to resolve.

 

Examples of Hybrid Cloud Storage Deployments

 

Case 1 – Backups


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In today’s world, not having backups can affect a small business or even a large business. Businesses stand to lose many hours of productivity or revenue if they don’t have access to their data. Ensuring backups is a necessity in today’s information driven world. One way for a business to achieve off-site backups is to deploy a Hybrid Cloud Backup, where data can be encrypted on the Synology product before being sent to the Cloud Storage.

The Synology DSM supports many Cloud Backup Providers, including Amazon Glacier, Amazon S3, Elephant Drive, HiDrive Backup, and Symform Cloud Backup.

Or alternatively, a private cloud backup can be deployed with at least a minimum of two Synology products, and using Network Backup. Using Network Backup allows a business to maintain and manage their backups in-house, avoids subscription fees for Cloud-based storage and allows the business to add additional storage as needed.

 

Case 2 – Sharing data with partner offices


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In this scenario – sharing data is a must in many industries, such as many authors working on a publication article, or sharing data between many vendors to serve one customer, or sharing large files with limited bandwidth available. Regardless of the scenario, Synology can support the need of sharing data between various partners with Synology Cloud Sync. Cloud Sync allows data from the Synology RackStation to be uploaded to a common Cloud File Sharing service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive; using these providers allows for many partners to access the file effortlessly through a web-based interface.

One advantage with this deployment is that the Partners in this example are not directly accessing the Synology product, which may only have limited bandwidth, or the IT Manager of the Synology product doesn’t want any chance of remote users having access to the RackStation. By using Cloud Sync to store data in the Public Cloud, users can take advantage of the Public Cloud’s massive bandwidth. This large bandwidth is beneficial for sharing or distributing Tier-3 data, such as large multimedia files, images, marketing information, to name a few examples.

 

Conclusion

With today’s massive computing power, ever increasing network bandwidth capacity, and capacious hard drive storage, it’s not surprising that public and private clouds storage are becoming more popular with businesses of any size. It was only an eventuality when businesses would deploy both storage technologies to take advantage of the best of what both have to offer. Public Cloud Storage offers convenience of sharing and disseminating data on a wide reach, large scale process. Private Cloud Storage is for those who want to maintain administration and security of data on-site. With Synology Products, a small business can deploy a Hybrid Cloud to take advantage of on-site performance and security, with the flexibility of distributing content effortlessly with public clouds.

The potential combinations are numerous, what kind of Cloud Storage are you going to deploy? Feel free to discuss below.

 

Further Reading

 

  1. Synology KB – How to back up data on Synology NAS to another server