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Hybrid cloud computing is a key sector for the enterprise IT today. And the big cloud providers are fighting over this lucrative market.
Case in point, Microsoft recently acquired Avere Systems. This move enables Microsoft to boost its Azure revenue by allowing users to use the cloud while keeping some data on prem. Avere, of course, offers storage hardware for data centers and enables companies to use remote computing resources while keeping their data in place. It also eases the migration of data to public clouds.
So what is going on in the hybrid cloud marketplace?
It is no longer a case of public cloud or private cloud. Steve Pao, CMO of Igneous Systems said hybrid cloud storage has evolved into a requirement.
“With data is growing at double-digit rates both on premises and in cloud, enterprises must have data management strategies that span hybrid clouds,” he said.
Like many areas of technology today, the hybrid cloud market is being impacted by the desire to harness advanced analytics. Thus storage purchasing can no longer be done in isolation.
“Recognize that the driver for hybrid cloud storage is the new uses of data for enhanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence,” said Pao. “How hybrid cloud storage integrates into new compute contexts, such as event-driven computing and microservices, should be a critical factor in enterprise architecture decisions.”
Software and Networking
Similarly, storage planning for hybrid clouds can’t be done without also considering the software and networking repercussions. Pao said the arranging of hybrid cloud storage is far less problematic if you take into account both software and networking.
“Software is a problem because it needs to help with search and discovery of data, now spread across multiple locations,” said Pao. “Networking is a problem because, despite some really good software optimization in place to minimize traffic, data movement is ultimately constrained by the speed of light.”
No More Either/Or
Hybrid cloud deployment models—a combination of private and public cloud resources—are becoming the new normal for enterprise IT organizations. “Cloud vs. on-prem” does not have to be an “either/or” decision, particularly for data protection in a hybrid cloud. Here, data is stored to an on-prem object storage system and then replicated to a low-cost cloud archive -- such as Amazon Glacier -- for disaster recovery purposes. This solution saves time and cost in three ways, said Jon Toor, CMO, Cloudian:
A) The cloud storage cost is low and it is predictable. This employs the lowest cost cloud tier, and is accessed only in the event of a failure.
B) Management workload is eliminated because the process is policy driven. When data is stored to the local system, replication to the cloud occurs automatically.
C) Because tiering software is embedded in the object storage system, there are no additional features to buy.
Having multiple clouds used to make things really complicated. Storage managers would have a console for on-prem private cloud and then have separate screens for each cloud. Those days are over due to the ability to centrally manage multiple cloud environments.
“Multi-cloud offers the ability to use specific features from various cloud providers, an opportunity to adjust usage for cost, and the flexibility to leverage the geographic distribution of providers’ datacenters,” said Toor. “Multi-cloud controllers make this possible by presenting all resources – cloud and on-prem -- via a common API and in a single namespace.”
Variations across clouds create management challenges because tools and management views are often specific to a particular cloud. This includes varying APIs from Amazon, Google and Microsoft, restrictions on file storage support in certain clouds. A multi-cloud controller can alleviate many of these problems by providing a unifying element that combines cloud resources into a single management framework.
Linus Chang. Founder and CEO at BackupAssist, knows a thing or two about how user behavior has shifted with regard to on-prem and cloud backup. For a decade, he said, his customers have been increasingly pushing their file backups to either private cloud, or to public cloud. Generally, they keep a full server image on-premise for fast Disaster Recovery (DR) and backups of important files get sent offsite as a second backup for historical versioning, redundancy and archiving.
Our medium size businesses tend to prefer data centers with SLAs and assurances. Small business customers, on the other hand, tend to seek low-cost hybrid cloud options.
“We are often impressed with their ingenuity and how far they can stretch a budget,” said Change.
For example, some will place a NAS offsite (in a different city to their office) and take advantage of having geographical separation at an extremely low incremental cost, utilizing Internet links they already have, while using VPN security to lock down that device. That way, they don’t have to pay for monthly hosting fees of a public cloud, and yet can instantly have access to terabytes of storage space for the same cost as around 6-9 months’ hosting. Over time, they save considerably while retaining full control over their data.
With hybrid cloud storage becoming a reality in many enterprises and the cloud no longer just being used as an archive, Yuval Dimnik, NooBaa’s founder pointed out that cloud bursting has become a major trend. What this entails is using the cloud to run workloads that are limited in time, based on part of the data, taking advantage of a scalable compute, that is not needed on a daily basis.
“This is true for research workloads, as well as media & entertainment,” said Dimnik.
Software Defined Storage
Additionally, the rapid adoption of hybrid cloud storage is accelerating the switch to software-defined storage (SDS) solutions, according to Pierre Evenou, CEO of Rozo Systems.
“SDS had momentum already through its cost advantage, but customers were hanging on to traditional storage arrays out of an abundance of caution,” he said. “The adoption of hybrid cloud storage is the ‘last nail in the coffin’ for traditional storage solutions: SDS offers a compelling edge, because of its ability to replicate the same storage stack in the private and public clouds.”