Hybrid cloud - the way forward

The world’s going hybrid! Seems that the IT industry is not the only area where the term hybrid applies; buses, cars, trains, bikes, electrical appliances - you name it. Also, this is not exactly a new thing - looking back into history one of the first ships to embrace the new technology of the day; steam power, also had sails…

 

Switching back to IT, cloud computing in the enterprise seems to be moving inexorably towards a hybrid cloud model. Basically, organizations are realizing, particularly when it comes to managing and storing data that they need to combine private with public clouds to get to the all of the ‘goodies’ that cloud has to offer. But, the trick of course is to avoid lock-in and allow for flexibility and agility as the business, technology and cloud services change over time. Which is why is doesn’t make much sense to entrust your data management and storage requirement with a hardware / software vendor that is also operating as a cloud service provider! For decades end-users and vendors alike have put huge amounts of effort into building robust, secure environments for storing and managing data, so it would be a great pity (one could even say a travesty) to throw away much of the goodness in blind pursuit of the latest shiny new thing. Much better to take a pragmatic approach and work out, based on workloads and security requirements where best to store the data.

 

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Compute in the cloud is relatively straightforward and transitory – turn it on when you need it and turn it off when you don’t. Data on the other hand is a different kettle of fish in that it has weight and physical mass and cannot easily be moved from one place or service provider to another. And, just because you may have moved your data outside of the data centre doesn’t mean that you can abrogate your responsibility regarding the security, availability and compliance of that data – you are and remain the ‘data steward’ irrespective of where that data may reside.

 

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For some workloads, or organizations that require high levels of security and availability a private storage link to a cloud hyperscale provider (Amazon, Microsoft Azure, SoftLayer, etc.) can be a great solution in that it means the physical data and storage management are held in a colocation data centre outside of the cloud which is then connected via a low-latency link close to the hyperscale service provider. This way, organizations can take advantage of all of the cost and efficiency benefits of using so called ‘elastic compute’ in the cloud, but at the same time have the peace of mind of knowing that their data is securely stored outside of the cloud in a private environment at the colocation provider’s data centre. Data can then be transferred back and forth between data centres or service providers using near zero footprint snapshot technology. Result is that you gain the flexibility of being able to tap into elastic compute power as and when you need it; your data is held, separately and securely in a data centre ‘near’, but essentially outside of the cloud – plus a reduction in network costs and time to transfer data due to the low-latency link.

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So, for me at least the message is loud and clear: avoid lock-in; consider the benefits of moving to a hybrid cloud model; and don’t throw away the best practices and disciplines of a lifetime without first thinking long and hard about the risks and the options on offer.

 

Links to the launch news are here

 

Hybrid Cloud Press Release - http://www.netapp.com/us/company/news/press-releases/news-rel-20141028-186087.aspx

 

Data ONTAP 8.3 - http://www.netapp.com/us/products/platform-os/data-ontap-8/index.aspx

 

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