As most businesses move their workloads to the cloud, cloud service providers and managed cloud service providers are under mounting pressure to meet the demand for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions. They must deliver up-to-date and consistently high-quality services throughout their customer base, all the while maintaining competitive prices and protecting their profit margins. To do so successfully, and to thrive in the constantly evolving cloud industry, providers could benefit immensely from centralizing on a third-party platform that operates as a silent collaborator behind the scenes.
In this blog, we present some of the major challenges that managed cloud service providers face, and explain how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help address these challenges.
Challenges for Managed Cloud Services
Providers offer customers a wide range of managed cloud services, such as storage, disaster recovery, cloud migration, and hybrid environments, and as such, they need to stay attuned to the latest developments in the market. Not only must providers find the optimal balance between conflicting objectives, such as high availability vs. cost efficiency, but they must do so for, and across, multiple clients.
It’s challenging enough for a single user to navigate the complexities of the cloud, and to formulate a good flexible cloud strategy. This task becomes immeasurably more complex for cloud service providers, which handle customers across multiple sectors, each with their own distinct infrastructure and particular business requirements, such as seasonal workloads. As a result, service providers must find a way to productively manage the many, while protecting individual clients’ interests and privacy requirements. To do so successfully, they must reduce multiple complex infrastructures into a unified, seamless, automated, and intuitive environment for themselves and for their customers.
On top of this, cloud service providers must address the issue of multi-tenancy. Since multiple customers often share the same resources, providers must take steps to ensure data protection, isolation, and availability. Data must be secure, workloads must not negatively impact other workloads, and workload isolation is needed for billing purposes.
Overcoming these challenges and delivering top-notch cloud services is not enough to ensure profitability. To be successful in an increasingly competitive market, cloud service providers must maintain their profit margins while still offering their services at competitive prices, constantly looking for ways to lower the costs for the customer
Cloud Service Providers Are in Need of a Partner
Rather than spend valuable resources keeping up with the latest trends and engineering cloud solutions from scratch, cloud service providers can profit immensely from joining forces with a partner that specializes in the cloud. Through this partnership, providers are able to gain access to a whole portfolio of solutions that work together to solve significant business challenges. This not only improves the quality and efficiency of their cloud services, but it also allows providers to focus on more high-level, customer-centric issues instead.
Meet Cloud Volumes ONTAP
NetApp Cloud Volume ONTAP, a data storage management platform that runs on Azure, AWS and Google Cloud, offers hybrid cloud solutions. Cloud Volumes ONTAP boasts a number of key features that address some of the major challenges faced by cloud service providers. With Cloud Volumes ONTAP, service providers can offer their customers a multi-cloud architecture, with guaranteed high availability, data protection, high performance, cost-efficiency, multiprotocol file services, data security, and more. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits.
To obtain a competitive edge, cloud service providers need a bird’s eye view of the complex infrastructures under their care, and the means to ensure that services are delivered optimally and consistently throughout it. This can be achieved by centralizing on one platform, which manages all customers, hyperscalers, accounts, data volumes, etc.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP addresses this need, reducing complex multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures into a unified, seamless data fabric, and equipping its users with the means to optimize cloud services and to scale quickly and efficiently. In leveraging Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s clustering capabilities and capacity management options, service providers can optimize their usage of resources—moving, sharing, and reusing compute and storage resources across accounts on demand.
NetApp Cloud Manager is a major Cloud Volumes ONTAP management feature designed for consolidation, which provides a single-pane control for both cloud service providers and their customers. With Cloud Manager, service providers can leverage automation and orchestration on-premises, in multiple Cloud Volumes ONTAPs clusters, and across multiple accounts. Cloud Manager’s automation capabilities include automatic roll-out of cloud infrastructure for DevOps, cloud migration, and disaster recovery.
Many cloud service providers use Cloud Volumes ONTAP as the core of their storage management system for these reasons and have reaped many benefits. Read our case studies about how cloud service providers leveraged Cloud Volumes ONTAP to optimize their operations and reduce costs.
Flexible and Seamless Data Mobility
In order to function as productively as possible, cloud service providers must be able to move workloads around flexibly, with no disruption or liability to their customers. With Cloud Volumes ONTAP, providers can efficiently move thousands of workloads to the cloud (lift and shift). Once in the cloud, workloads can be moved seamlessly to different performance tiers and data storage tiers. This is especially valuable to providers that handle fluctuating business requirements, such as seasonal workloads.
The ability to move data around seamlessly and non-disruptively eliminates many customer-facing challenges. One such example can be seen when moving to new platforms. In this case, providers are usually burdened with the complex task of scheduling downtime with customers. This is taken care of with Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s clustering capabilities, where data can be moved around on the backend without impacting the business’ customer base.
One of Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s key features for this task is SnapMirror®, which replicates data across NetApp storage systems and hybrid and multicloud deployments. SnapMirror is particularly efficient because it operates incrementally, transferring only changed data blocks.
One of the most pressing concerns for service providers is how to ensure that customers’ data is secure, isolated and performing optimally in a multi-tenant environment. Cloud Volumes ONTAP offers a suite of tools that support multi-tenancy architecture, ensuring isolation, segmentation, data security and consistently high availability across organizations.
In Cloud Manager, multiple layers of protection can be configured. Firstly, it supplies built-in end-to-end encryption of data at rest and in flight. This allows businesses to leverage shared storage services, without having to buy self-encrypting drives, or to use external key management.
Secondly, permission, user and role management can be set to control access to sensitive data.
And lastly, in terms of isolation and guaranteeing performance—Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s Quality of Service (QoS) technology enables service providers to deliver consistent performance in a multi-tenant environment. By setting performance values, service providers can make sure that workloads are not negatively impacting each other, and working optimally on the whole.
Learn more about how to ensure data security in Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Reducing Data Footprint and Costs
All users want to be as efficient as possible and to lower their cloud expenses. However, this is particularly critical for cloud service providers because they are trusted with this task for all their customers, and must at the same time guard their own profit margins. Cloud Volumes ONTAP offers service providers tools to lower both the cost for their end customers and still maintain their own margins.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports an array of storage efficiencies, such as thin provisioning, automated data tiering to lower-cost object storage, and data compression and deduplication. These efficiencies are invaluable to cloud service providers because they can increase profit margins without affecting end-customers’ storage costs.
Read in this case study, how Concerto Cloud Services, a managed cloud service provider, used Cloud Volumes ONTAP to protect its production data, using 96% less data for the job, and offering its customers an industry-leading RTO and SLA.
Deliver Value Added Services
With Cloud Volumes ONTAP, managed cloud service providers can gain a competitive advantage by providing more value-added services for their customers, including:
- Data Protection: Leverage NetApp efficient Snapshots™ to create point-in-time copies instantly, regardless of volume size, using minimal storage space.
- Backup and DR: Service providers can ensure data backup and swift recoverability, at a low cost.
- Data tiering: Store cold data on less-expensive object storage and automatically shift it back to performant block storage as needed.
Managed cloud service providers face a broad range of challenges. Rather than trying to invent the wheel by fixing problems manually, providers can increase the quality of their services and save costs by centralizing on a reliable cloud and hybrid cloud services platform. In leveraging the full suite of Cloud Volumes ONTAP solutions, managed cloud service providers can save a tremendous amount of time and energy, boost the quality of their services across their heterogeneous customer base, and increase their profit margins.