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Italy embraces cloud storage for multiple platforms

Investment in the cloud and storage is rising rapidly in Italy as customers see the benefits of cloud storage for many use cases and the savings it can bring

Italy’s investment in cloud technology increased by 25% last year to reach €1.5bn.

According to Osservatorio Cloud & ICT, a cloud data market study from the Politecnico of Milan, the country’s public cloud investment grew by 35% from 2014 levels, and investment related to cloud-enabling infrastructure was 21% up at €1.05bn.

It is hard to break down the value of cloud storage within this because it is closely connected to other infrastructure services that underpin, for example, software-as-a-service businesses.

The Osservatorio Cloud & ICT report said: “The storage of data online in the cloud, where a company’s data is stored and accessible from multiple distributed and connected resources, will be huge in 2016.

“Storage can act as an enabler to high-performance cloud computing and is becoming a major component that will continue to be a fundamental driver of performance.”

Whether organisations need primary or nearline data storage, backup or archiving, the cloud can provide an answer.

Advantages of the cloud include: accessibility and reliability, rapid deployment, strong protection for data backup, archive and disaster recovery use cases, and lower overall storage costs resulting from not having to buy, manage and maintain expensive hardware.

However, cloud storage does have the potential to raise security and compliance concerns.

Nicola Previati, country manager for Amazon Web Services in Italy, said: “Amazon S3 offers a range of storage classes designed for different use cases, including Amazon S3 Standard for general-purpose storage of frequently accessed data, Amazon S3 Standard - Infrequent Access (Standard - IA) for long-lived, but less frequently accessed data, and Amazon Glacier for long-term archive.

“Amazon S3 also offers configurable lifecycle policies for managing data throughout its lifecycle. Once a policy is set, you will automatically migrate to the most appropriate storage class without any changes to your applications.”

Don’t create parallel systems

For organisations evaluating cloud storage, it is always a good idea to find out if it aligns with their existing infrastructure and protocols. It is important to avoid any cloud storage deployments that create parallel systems and infrastructure for the IT department to manage, or that reduce control over files and data.

The evaluation process must be strict in terms of requirements. Bear in mind that it is possible to run primary storage applications in the cloud without migration efforts or painful rewrites. A good approach is to draw up a list of features you would expect from a traditional SAN or NAS deployment and make sure these are provided in any cloud offering.

Microsoft recommends organisation to carefully consider their requirements related to geo-availability, scalability, performance and integration with existing solutions such as backup, disaster recovery and tiered hybrid storage.

Selecting a cloud storage solution really depends on the type of workload. For example, Standard SATA volumes work well for everyday file system needs, while flash storage volumes deliver higher performance for databases and I/O-intensive apps. In some cases it is important to pick a provider that offers different levels of storage service.

Telecom Italia delivers cloud with CTERA

Every Italian service provider aims for a solid offer through cloud infrastructure, and cloud storage is an important element of this. Telecom Italia, the country’s biggest telecoms provider, has set its sights on becoming Italy’s leading cloud provider and has launched various services for enterprises, small businesses and consumers.

Localised cloud storage services are emerging as a major market opportunity worldwide, and are critical for Italy’s business sector, where legal compliance and security remain top concerns.

Enzo Bagnacani, marketing infrastructure solution director at Telecom Italia, said: “Cloud technologies and the proliferation of mobile devices have fundamentally changed how business users store, share and protect their files.

“We needed to address customers’ needs with a solution that would allow them to synchronise files between multiple devices, share files and collaborate within teams or among partners, and use Telecom Italia’s cloud for data protection and disaster recovery.”

Telecom Italia uses the CTERA cloud storage platform to offer cloud backup and file sync and share services. The solution comprises cloud-side management software and end-point agents for PC, Mac and mobile.

Telecom Italia has branded the CTERA-powered solution as Nuvola It Data Space Easy.

“Our customers have been looking for an Italy-based cloud file sync and backup service,” said Bagnacani. “CTERA allows us to launch multiple cloud storage-based applications with iron-clad security and under our own brand, leveraging our investment in Nuvola Italiana infrastructure.”

The CTERA solution enables Telecom Italia to provide its business customers with storage, data protection and file sharing. Advanced security features include encryption key management per customer, and Active Directory identity management integration.

The platform architecture includes multi-tier administration, enabling Telecom Italia to delegate administration privileges to enterprise administrators and IT resellers.

OVS gets Google Drive for collaboration

Italy’s enterprise sector is also pushing its investment in the cloud.

For example, OVS, a leader in the Italian apparel market, has moved to Google Apps for Business and selected Google Drive to establish a cloud storage service.

Marco Grieco, business innovation and change director at OVS, said: “With Google Drive, we are able to link together the otherwise disparate parts of our retail business and share information better across the company.

“Before Drive, our IT solution was old-fashioned and difficult to co-ordinate globally. Half the team used one outdated IT tool, and the other half sent faxes – seriously – or exchanged emails.”

Last year, our supply chain team sent five million emails. Two weeks after we started using Google Drive, our email volume dropped by 40%
Marco Grieco, OVS

Grieco added: “Last year, our supply chain team sent five million emails. Two weeks after we started using Drive, our email volume dropped by 40%. The transition was smooth and the benefits emerged quickly, since so many people were already familiar with Google and were excited to use it at work.”

Now OVS uses Google Drive to store and share everything product-related within the company and externally with suppliers – from information about models, fabrics and sizing, to prototype images and the results of product tests.

The company shares and syncs files across desktops, tablets and smartphones so people have the information they need, no matter where they are or what device they are using. 

“Drive has shown us how we can work better together and improve communication overall throughout the business, while also breaking down barriers between teams that are tens of thousands of miles apart,” said Grieco.

OVS is now rolling out Drive to its retail stores and sales associates, some of whom had already started using it to upload and share images from their mobiles and tablets.

Grieco added: “We see major potential to use Google Drive across our business and make life easier for our employees while continuing to innovate for our customers.”

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