The promise of smooth-functioning, cost-effective hybrid cloud storage has long been of interest to IT professionals. “Hybrid” has been in the cloud lexicon from the beginning, when the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued its original definitions of various cloud deployment models.
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Hybrid cloud storage broadens the workload deployment choice to more than one cloud and enables compelling use cases, such as off-site backup, disaster recovery and cloud bursting. Done right, an enterprise hybrid cloud improves IT agility while reducing cost.
Up until recently, however, major challenges kept companies from embracing the promise of hybrid clouds, particularly for primary storage. These obstacles fall into four categories:
Adopt a cloud services mindset, in which resources are provisioned and services delivered on demand and paid for as they’re consumed.
Fortunately, as the cloud market and technologies mature, most of these adoption barriers are gradually being dismantled. Based on our recent research, IT manager confidence in public clouds has increased significantly in the past couple of years, leading to their adoption for an expanding set of workloads. In addition, rapidly maturing cloud storage, networking and orchestration technologies are bringing hybrid cloud primary storage closer to reality, while products that enable simple and streamlined data portability are beginning to alleviate lock-in concerns.
Even as these obstacles are lowered or removed, buyers need a way to sort and distinguish competitors. To accomplish that, let’s look at a set of criteria that defines what we believe is the sweet spot: hybrid cloud services that allow you to better and more fully support primary apps and data.
To overcome the limitations of existing approaches and ensure that a hybrid cloud primary storage product meets all your needs, start with an on-premises private cloud. This must include self-service provisioning and pay-as-you-go billing for infrastructure and app services. Among other benefits, this approach will help your organization adopt a cloud services mindset in which resources are provisioned and services delivered on demand and paid for as they’re consumed. A private cloud also will lay the groundwork for a hybrid IT infrastructure.
Beyond that starting point, here’s a list of criteria that will let you get the most out of your enterprise hybrid cloud investment:
Product offerings that satisfy the majority of these criteria will more likely provide the choice, agility, control and cost you should expect from hybrid cloud technology storage. A full set of these characteristics is seldom found in a single product, however. Let’s briefly consider the field of existing offerings to see how they deliver these capabilities.
Existing products that connect on-premises storage with a public cloud service come in several flavors. While several of these claim to offer hybrid cloud capabilities, some come closer than others to meeting our criteria:
Object storage products are on track to provide the majority of the hybrid cloud capabilities on our wish list, except most don’t adequately support traditional file- and block-based applications. These may include the apps on which you may be running your business. If you’re focused on moving legacy workloads to the cloud and running them in a hybrid fashion, then object storage software likely won’t meet all of your needs.
As this category develops, we believe some products will support particular workloads and deployment scenarios, such as lifting and shifting existing apps to the cloud. Others will be more general purpose. Look for hybrid products that provide the scalability and flexibility you’ll need to grow, along with automated cross-cloud orchestration and management to minimize hands-on admin support.
Hybrid cloud technology products open new possibilities for deploying production applications. For example, if you’re already running workloads in the public cloud and find your monthly bill growing too large, these products give you the flexibility to run selected workload tiers — such as the presentation layer — in the public cloud where they will benefit from the elasticity, while bringing more cost-sensitive portions of the workload back on premises. Hybrid cloud may also benefit on-premises apps, such as data analytics workloads, by providing an opportunity to burst out workloads that run primarily on premises but access public cloud resources as needed.
However, hybrid cloud isn’t a panacea, so choose your vendor wisely. Go beyond simply tire kicking and carefully evaluate each product against your objectives and existing environment to determine which the best fit is.
We believe that hybrid cloud will become a reality for production apps and their associated primary storage in 2017 and 2018. Keep an eye out for new approaches and products, including enhancements to those described in this article, particularly to cloud-enabled, software-defined storage. These promise to change the way we as IT professionals think about the hybrid cloud and its role in running the business.
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Hybrid cloud technology gets the most out of primary storage workloads – TechTarget
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