Storage is Critical for Collaboration Apps

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Storage is Critical for Collaboration Apps

Earlier this year, the Altimeter group reported that we are using an average of 30 apps a day to collaborate and work with one another. No wonder it seems like I am constantly logging into one app or another to update or approve something for one of my many projects. Because most of this data is stored in the cloud, imagine the challenges collaboration apps face in keeping all this data straight in an extremely cost-conscious market.

For better or worse, collaboration apps find themselves smack in the middle of the data storage business. Customers will only use an app if it is responsive and reliable. Meanwhile, shareholders don’t want to break the bank providing these benefits. For a variety of reasons, legacy storage solutions are poised to let app providers down on both accounts. But I don’t think it has to be this way. Success or failure in the collaborative app world may boil down to using the right storage strategies. Here’s why:

  1. Collaboration apps must cost-effectively store huge amounts of data. Every collaboration app dreams of becoming the next Dropbox or Vimeo. While fortunes are won and lost in dog-eat-dog markets, one thing is crystal clear—money to purchase these systems is hard to come by.Purchasing a fully loaded RAID array with enterprise controller software from a major storage brand is expensive, and it doesn’t make sense for a startup app company with limited resources. Cost effective scale-out systems are built based on nodes (instead of disks) that can be easily stood up, replaced and migrated without downtime. Upgrading using nodes allows for incremental growth of capacity along with performance. Traditional storage systems require more guesswork and planning. For app companies, buying storage space before it is needed disrupts cash flow.How can anyone estimate the amount of storage needed when introducing a new product to the market? Whether the business steadily takes off or grows in fits and starts, a scale-out system can keep pace for less.
  1. Data types matter for collaboration apps: Collaboration tools seamlessly juggle queries for images, video and sound files. They serve them to users along with meta-data such as reviews, comments and older versions. This mish-mash of data is often unstructured and almost always includes file, block and object-oriented storage all at once.Scale-out architectures have interfaces for all three types of storage and balances them across self-healing nodes. Unstructured data is one of the primary drivers for legacy storage customers to seek new alternatives like scale-out solutions. Cost and the simplicity of using a single management interface make scale-out a popular choice.
  1. Mobile Access and performance: Collaboration app customers can be extremely fickle. They want the app to work on their smartphones no matter what type of cellular coverage they are getting. I don’t usually say this, but in this is one instance where poor storage performance can cost an app company business. Performance is a constant worry for legacy systems as disks fill. IT teams must monitor not only the storage capacity, but also the CPU and RAM utilization on the almighty controller responsible for performance across the array. Scale-out systems add CPU, RAM network speed and capacity as each new node is deployed. With Scale-out, performance scales directly with capacity offering a true scale-out system.
  1. Multi-media concerns: Media files are key to success for many collaboration apps. Users understand some delay when streaming video or downloading high resolution photos, but thumbnail stills and descriptive text had better paint quickly. Getting varying content to perform in concert on an app determines the app’s success. Multi-media is the intersection of unstructured data and performance.Combining the meta-data and the media file quickly is critical. Finding a storage solution that supports the full gamut of data types with high performance just makes sense.

It is almost time for me to upload this blog into my favorite file sharing app. Let’s hope they have the right storage solution in place!