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Multicloud Storage

One Cloud Out of Many: Why Enterprises Are Turning to Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Architectures

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There are many motivations for evolving from an entirely on-prem infrastructure to a multiple or hybrid cloud architecture. From the very beginning of the cloud adoption process, hybrid cloud architectures allow enterprises to benefit from cloud economics and scalability without compromising data sovereignty. A multicloud storage deployment also brings many benefits to the enterprise cloud, from avoiding vendor lock-in to accommodating mergers and acquisitions and optimizing price/performance.

In this blog post, we’ll look at everything related to multicloud/hybrid architectures: the use cases best served by them, the challenges of hybrid and multicloud management, how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps to make both options easy and cost-effective, including customers case studies.

Multicloud and Hybrid Architectures: A Primer

Both multicloud and hybrid are distributed deployment models in the cloud, for running an app—or part of an app—in the most appropriate computing environment.

What is Multicloud?

Multicloud is the use of cloud computing and storage services—IaaS, PaaS, SaaS—from two or more public cloud vendors in a single network architecture. A multicloud strategy avoids vendor lock-in, enhances business continuity, and maximizes flexibility for development teams. However, multicloud management can be complicated, requiring careful orchestration as well as close attention to security and governance issues.

What is Hybrid Cloud?

A hybrid cloud combines a privately-hosted cloud with at least one public cloud service provider, all managed as a single, policy-based environment. In a hybrid enterprise cloud deployment, on-prem infrastructure is extended by public cloud resources in a wide range of use cases such as dev/test, backup and archiving, bursting production workloads to meet sudden demand, and more. A common reason for using a hybrid environment is as a transition to a full cloud deployment.

Both major cloud providers are catering to this new demand. For AWS, hybrid cloud deployment can use AWS Storage Gateway and many of its other services. Not to be left out of the shift to the hybrid cloud, Azure also offers a solution: StorSimple. In addition to those native hybrid solutions, many AWS and Azure services can also be used in hybrid deployments with the help of Cloud Volumes ONTAP, which we’ll discuss later.

Hybrid and Multicloud Deployment Models

When it comes to either deployment model in the cloud, whether hybrid or multicloud, there are two main types: distributed and redundant.

In a distributed architecture some apps or app components will run in one environment (e.g., on-prem or on a particular public cloud) while other apps or other components of the same app will run in another environment.  Some examples of distributed deployment and data storage include:

  • Tiered hybrid: For example, the frontend runs in the public cloud for greater agility and performance while the backend, including data storage, runs in the private cloud.
  • Partitioned multicloud: The enterprise maintains multiple cloud environments and deploys an app and its data where most suitable based on, for example, geographic location of availability zones or specialized services provided by a particular cloud provider.
  • Analytics hybrid/multicloud: Transactional workloads run close to home in a private cloud, but the data collected by the workloads is extracted and loaded into a public cloud for analytics.

In redundant architectures, the same app or app components will be deployed across multiple computing and storage environments in order to increase capacity or resiliency. This kind of architecture is often adopted by companies just starting to use the cloud, as it allows them to gain experience with the platform before they go all in. In a redundant architecture, there is usually no need to refactor or rewrite code and processes. Instead they can be lifted and shifted “as is” to the cloud infrastructure. Some examples of redundant deployment include:

  • Environment hybrid: Production workloads are run in the private cloud, but replicated workloads for non-production purposes such as development, testing, staging are run in the public cloud.
  • Business continuity multicloud or hybrid cloud storage: Backups, archives, DR sites, standby systems are deployed redundantly across multiple clouds in order to avoid single point of failure (SPOF) scenarios.
  • Cloud bursting: Baseline workloads run privately, but they can burst to the cloud as needed in order to scalably meet elastic capacity demands.

According to RightScale’s 2018 State of the Cloud Report, over 80% of North American and European companies are using a complex deployment model in the cloud: 51% of them hybrid and 21% implementing a multicloud strategy, with an average of 5 cloud providers.

Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Benefits

complex cloud modelMulticloud and hybrid cloud strategies offer compelling benefits to enterprises. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits is flexibility. These strategies give enterprises the freedom to choose where and how to deploy workloads, thus avoiding the business risks of vendor lock-in. Multicloud and hybrid cloud also promote more flexible data management, for enhanced data sovereignty and compliance, availability, and durability.

For enterprises that seek to achieve maximum business agility through a DevOps culture, a hybrid cloud strategy is pretty much a prerequisite. At the very least, it provides self-service resources for developers to cost-effectively run dev/test workloads in the public cloud.

Another important benefit is price/performance optimization across providers (in the case of multicloud) and across use cases (in the case of both hybrid and multicloud). Although it may seem that pricing and performance are very similar across all the major public cloud providers, careful multicloud and hybrid cloud management can help to contain costs without sacrificing performance by deploying the right workloads in the right environments.

In today’s always-on, always-connected world, users expect apps and services to be highly available. Multicloud and hybrid redundant deployments enhance business continuity by being less susceptible to DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks and SPOF (Single Point of Failure) incidents. Many enterprises also use distributed and redundant deployment models to implement seamless failover and disaster recovery plans.

Another clear benefit from a multicloud approach is the ability to geographically distribute apps and services. The closer an app sits to its target audience, the better the user experience. Leveraging regions across multiple cloud providers contributes to optimal performance—and also supports effective use of edge computing.

Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Despite the many benefits, multicloud and hybrid cloud deployments are not without their special challenges. These include:

  • Increased operational complexity: Ops and DevOps teams have to learn the provisioning policies and methods of each provider. In addition, there are multiple monthly bills to track, making it difficult to get a clear, comprehensive picture of the enterprise’s cloud costs.
  • Increased data management complexity and overhead: Control, tracking, and synchronization of data become even more complicated when data sets are deployed across multiple providers. It also makes it more difficult to aggregate different data sources into the data lakes that are essential for analytics and business intelligence.
  • Data protection: As a corollary to the data management challenge, it is also more difficult to protect data that is distributed across complex infrastructures. Access control and data lifecycle management policies are harder to enforce across a multicloud or hybrid cloud architecture.
  • Expertise: Designing, implementing and managing these complex environments requires high levels of cloud and IT proficiency. Given the ongoing IT and cloud architecture skills shortage gap, hiring and retaining an IT and cloud experts team with the required depth and breadth is a challenge in itself.

How Cloud Volumes ONTAP Supports Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Data Storage Management

NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP is an enterprise-grade data storage management platform that runs on the leading cloud service providers, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. It is fully compatible with NetApp’s industry-leading on-prem ONTAP platform, thus providing an unparalleled Data Fabric across environments. The fact that Cloud Volumes ONTAP manages enterprise data assets seamlessly in a vendor-agnostic framework is already a big advantage for multicloud and hybrid cloud deployments.

Other ways in which Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports multicloud and hybrid cloud architectures include:

Customer Case Studies

Concerto Cloud Services: Hybrid and Multicloud

Concerto Cloud Services is a fully-managed cloud provider whose infrastructure comprises large on-premises data centers as well as multiple public cloud providers. Its specialty includes delivering integrated hybrid and multicloud solutions.

Concerto deployed Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS and managed to reduce data footprint by 96% leveraging ONTAP storage efficiencies, while improving critical SLAs. You can read here about Concerto’s cloud journey with NetApp.

Global Mass Media Corporation: Hybrid Data Center Solution

This American multinational mass media enterprise owns and operates multiple branded websites of its own and distributes digital content, products, and services to consumers, publishers, and advertisers worldwide.

The company was looking for an agile, enterprise-grade data storage management solution to establish a hybrid cloud data center as well as to migrate large volumes of data from Europe to the Western United States. They implemented a highly-available redundant hybrid architecture based on Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS, and report these benefits:

  • Using the Cloud Manager, they were able to easily and quickly establish a hybrid cloud architecture.
  • Leveraging ONTAP storage efficiencies and storage tiering they considerably reduce AWS storage spend.
  • Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s SnapMirror feature allows them to maintain robust yet cost-effective cross-region replication.
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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager