The journey to a hybrid cloud experience takes different shapes for different companies. Depending on the sector they operate in and the specific setup of their organization, CIOs need to make the right choices at every juncture to achieve the most appropriate configuration that allows their business to thrive.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution out there. As many as 87% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy in place, although there are significant differences. For most, the long-term approach involves a blend of on-premises workloads and the cloud. The optimization of workloads between public cloud, private cloud, and traditional on premises creates a hybrid enterprise where cost, speed, and security are balanced to the specific company needs.
For organizations that intend to move 100% to the cloud, a short-term hybrid strategy may still be needed in order to plan a phased move of workloads and data from on premises to the cloud, often using secondary storage in the process.
In many cases, optimizing over time is the strategy of choice, allowing organizations to continuously evaluate cost, performance, and other factors to decide what the optimal placement for each workload should be.
The Power of Hybrid
The ability for an organization to carefully analyze its needs and adapt its cloud strategy accordingly is paramount to success, according to Ronen Schwartz, senior vice president and general manager of NetApp’s Cloud Volumes business. “Hybrid empowers you to do very exciting things, such as innovate on the cloud and execute on premises, where most of the data still is. It also helps you innovate internally and then execute at scale on the cloud,” he says.
“Applications used to be monolithic,” adds Kim Stevenson, senior vice president and general manager of NetApp Foundational Data Services. “It was difficult to implement change in them. You would have to take the application offline and fix it. But now containerization allows us to remove parts of an application and improve them without disrupting the whole.” This is a true game changer, Stevenson points out, allowing organizations to innovate without disrupting the whole system.
The beauty of containerization is that it allows scaling through code rather than through hardware. “In the past, whenever you needed something extra — more data, for example, or more power — you had to upgrade the system,” says Schwartz. He explains that organizations now benefit from being able to scale seamlessly into the cloud, which allows them to grow without incurring major cost or disruption.
The Innovation Advantage
The cycle of innovation is changing, says Stevenson. “Hyperscalers are becoming the source of innovation as the scale and scope they operate at creates this transformative opportunity. The innovation is then adopted by enterprises across the ecosystem.”
Thanks to what Stevenson refers to as the “consumerization of IT”, services are developed in collaboration with the hyperscalers and then deployed on premises for enterprises. NetApp becomes a conduit for innovation. “This is something that companies are looking for and that really benefits them,” she says.
The COVID pandemic has acted as an accelerant to these trends, according to Stevenson. “Companies don’t go back when it comes to tech and usage: they continue to move forward,” she says. While the journey to the cloud has been happening for years, in more recent times we are witnessing the introduction of an “intelligence layer” that allows companies to segment the types of workloads that they have and decide where best it will run.
“If it’s an application that every company in the world needs, say for example payroll, then it makes sense for it to be designed by someone else, for customers to use off the shelf. But if an app is core to your company, then you want to design once and use once, because that is your intellectual property,” Stevenson explains. “The intelligence layer allows you to run that. It’s a cost play. Organizations can run it as frequently and efficiently as possible in a continuous optimization mode.”
Customers with bursty workloads have their own challenges to contend with. It makes sense for them to burst out to the cloud for their peak, because while the increment has a cost, it saves time and money in the long run as it is only needed for a short time. “Their main work will be on premises, and they’ll only go to the cloud for that peak time,” says Stevenson. “This optimizes for their workload.”
A Competitive Edge
For most companies, hybrid cloud strategies are not just a means to an end. They are also an integral part of their competitive positioning. “It is important for them to balance their current services with innovation, when disruption is hitting their market” says Schwartz. “Because CIOs are competing on software, they are leveraging hybrid to support existing services while innovating quickly. It’s not a new trend, but it’s been accelerated by the pandemic,” he adds.
As a data and cloud storage specialist, NetApp is well-positioned to support customers in their modernization processes, according to Schwartz. He describes how a large hedge fund that embarked on aggressive innovation in the first wave is now pressing ahead with moving all its most important systems to the cloud. “This required trust in reliability and performance: the core system needed to run on the cloud as well as it had been running on premises,” he explains. “NetApp and Microsoft helped them take this complex system and move it to the cloud in record time, without damaging performance, and to a scale they could not possibly have on premises.”
Some software companies started operating when the world was fully on premises. Others in the first wave of the cloud. “As we enter wave two, they are looking to not just adopt the cloud but optimize for the newest cloud technologies.” He mentions the experience of Dell subsidiary Boomi, a specialist in platform integration. “They chose NetApp to help them scale to the cloud and work in a multi-cloud environment,” he says.
Sometimes regulation or optimization call for a multi-cloud solution. Ultimately, it comes down to circumstances and preferences. “You meet the customers in the cloud they’ve chosen, and the workloads get routed to the cloud of choice,” concludes Schwartz.
Learn more about how NetApp is the hybrid cloud leader who can help you navigate the journey ahead.