While cloud technology gains traction through the big data boom, IT leaders question how they can maximise value from cloud computing while still maintaining data security and control. The data growth we are experiencing continues to escalate in volume and complexity, particularly when data is streaming in from millions of new internet enabled devices, virtualised machines and cloud enabled business-critical applications.
Although the cloud has been around for a few years now, organisations are only recently starting to understand what level of cloud adoption makes sense for their business needs. The cloud has also gone through significant developments, with Hybrid models becoming the favoured approach to enable organisations to benefit from the agility offered from public clouds, while maintaining control of sensitive data on-premise.
A hybrid approach to cloud
Planning a journey to the cloud, whether private, public or both is daunting for all organisations. There is the promise of greater business agility and low upfront investment, however if not handled systematically and driven by insights gleaned from your data, it can actually increase cost and complexity. Some organisations are experiencing issues ranging from egress costs to wasteful utilisation, to complex and siloed management. By starting with insights from your data you can better understand which workloads and applications are most appropriate for a public or private cloud or on-premise hosting, and deploy a successful Hybrid model.
Having an on-premises, private infrastructure directly accessible means not having to go via the public internet for everything, which can greatly reduce access time and latency in comparison to public cloud services. The hybrid cloud model offers organisations on-premises computational and storage infrastructure for processing data that requires extra speed or high availability for your business. This is combined with the benefits of the public cloud where a workload may exceed the computational power of the private cloud component.
Expanding the private component of a hybrid cloud also allows for flexibility in virtual server design. Organisations can automate the entire virtual machine lifecycle to archiving older VM’s to the cloud.
Another benefit of the hybrid model is the increased connectivity and collaboration offered to employees – which can often be a challenge in today’s digital world. The ability for teams to easily and securely share files should be coupled with the integration of remote workers into core business processes, such as internal messaging, scheduling, edge protection (laptops, tablets, etc), business intelligence and analytics.
Although the benefits are clear for adopting a Hybrid approach it can still be difficult to know where to start. CIOs need to look at how they can introduce a Hybrid model that delivers deeply integrated cloud automation and orchestration tools, ensuring compatibility across cloud solutions and on-premise infrastructure. It is recommended that organisations look towards a low risk, high value first step to the cloud through disaster recovery. And particularly in India, our service provider partners are seeing strong demand for Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service and Backup-as-a-Service, as a clear entries into the cloud for businesses.
The hybrid environment is fast emerging as the norm for many CIOs. However the key to successfully deploying a hybrid cloud model is by understanding which workloads and applications are most appropriate for which hosting, and leveraging a single integrated console with an enterprise-wide view of data across these infrastructures. This will mean that IT leaders can better control where to process data and maximise cost savings by identifying reasonable spend in relation to the value that data offers to the business.
The spending shift – from Capex to Opex
While cloud computing offered promises of cost savings, increasingly we are seeing headlines like this from the Wall Street Journal: “The Hidden Waste and Expense of Cloud Computing“ or from CFO Mag: “Cloud Computing’s Wasteland“. So what’s actually happening?
Due to a lack of controls to help track and manage utilisation, businesses are being faced with unexpected costs, typically from an unusually large bill from their cloud provider after cloud instances are left running. In the traditional CapEx model, which we’re all used to, we invest heavily upfront in hardware and software. However with the cloud subscription model, we can build a datacenter with a credit card in a predictable Operational Expense (OpEx) model – which is wonderful in theory, until the bill shows up. As organisations mainstream public cloud, they are exposing holes in the maturity of their management processes and controls. This means that developers have been deploying VMs at will and not taking down workloads when they are finished.
To address this growing concern, IT leaders need to ensure they have a data and information management strategy which enables them to capture the workload at the point of creation and attach data management service at that point. To support Hybrid models, we need to be able to stay with the workload as it moves between on-premises to hosted private cloud to hybrid and public clouds.
Lastly, data is only useful when we are able to gain value from it, whether it be in the cloud or on-prem. Starting with backup and recovery, organisations can then fast track into more advanced use cases like dev/test solutions and more. Here emerges the hybrid data analytics strategy. ‘Analytics with purpose’ will be a guiding principle for businesses moving forward. And regardless of whether it’s to introduce a business intelligence project or take an advanced analytics strategy to the next level, organisations leveraging a hybrid cloud model will have the opportunity to make more intelligent choices about structured and unstructured data in their environment. They will be able to quickly mitigate the risk of compliance related issues, and regain valuable storage space, freeing up budgets to pursue opportunities that can power business growth.
* Johan Scheepers, Principal Systems Engineer at CommVault