By Phil Bullinger, CEO of Infinidat
More than 75% of CIOs have identified digital transformation as their top budget priority of 2021.1 Companies are leveraging digital capabilities to better serve their customers, accelerate bringing new products and services to market, scale their operations, and improve their efficiency and profitability. It is essential to competing and remaining relevant in today’s era of agile, data-driven business. This is more than just a proverbial paradigm shift; it is a transformative megatrend.
As the growth and importance of data proliferates exponentially, the role of cloud infrastructure as the key enabler of this megatrend is at the forefront. Cloud computing has progressively shifted the access to applications and data from local machines to Internet access, giving rise to a wide range of as-a-service offerings. Cloud-compute models and resources have scaled and proliferated to meet the challenge, enabling and powering digital transformation and innovation with increased flexibility, rapid application development and deployment, and consumption-based economics.
Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds
Several different cloud computing models have evolved to meet the diverse and evolving variety of technology and service needs of organizations, including public, private, and hybrid cloud architectures. Public clouds are the most popular model, where service providers manage large-to-massive pools of computing resources shared between many tenants with frictionless, pay-for-what-you-use pricing. Private clouds – whether physically located on-site or at a service provider – feature dedicated computing infrastructure accessed via a private network that is used by a single business. Hybrid cloud models are a blend of public and private cloud architectures, with varying degrees of application and data movement between the two environments.
As with most choices between alternative solutions in technology and architecture, there are both distinct and more nuanced tradeoffs when choosing between public and private cloud options. Public clouds offer vast choices in solutions and computing resources with elastic scalability and resource agility while eliminating the need for in-house expertise in provisioning and managing physical compute and storage infrastructure. Private clouds offer dedicated, secure infrastructure that can be flexibly tailored to unique requirements, delivering the highest levels of SLA performance, predictability and availability, cyber defense resilience, and precise administrative control and sovereignty over the resources.
Decisions Amid Relentless Evolution
When considering public and private cloud alternatives, there is no single model that is right for everyone and decisions should be driven by your specific business priorities and needs. In practice, most enterprises today deploy a hybrid cloud model, aligning their varied application workloads and data infrastructure with a mix of public and private cloud models that best meet their unique business requirements.
The accelerating adoption of hybrid cloud models has led to continued evolution in both public and private cloud services, where each are increasingly offering some of the characteristic strengths and capabilities that have historically distinguished between them. Public cloud services are expanding their infrastructure options, allowing multi-tenant customers to increasingly tailor cloud compute and storage resources to meet specific workload demands. Private clouds are also evolving, featuring more agile and scalable workload provisioning and user orchestration capabilities, and flexible consumption-based cost models. These advancements also enable hybrid cloud architectures where applications and workloads can now dynamically move between private and public cloud services with minimal impacts to business continuity and SLAs.
Why Private Clouds
For many enterprises, a private cloud is the critical and essential cornerstone of their overall data infrastructure. Organizations with business-critical operations that either require or desire greater control and predictability over their environment often depend on a private cloud model to provision and manage their resources.
The advantages and benefits of an enterprise private cloud model most often involve a combination of the following:
- Operational Predictability – Critical SLA parameters, including low latency and high availability, can be optimized and guaranteed. Infrastructure costs are also more predictable and manageable, and can be flexibly tailored on a continuum between operating expense (OpEx) and capital expense (CapEx) structures.
- Flexibility – Resources and capabilities can be limitlessly customized to meet specific and evolving business needs. In distributed and edge data center environments, resources can be placed in closer proximity to the sources of data, improving latency and reducing networking costs.
- Control and Security – Resources are not shared with others, so higher levels of control, data placement, privacy, and application and data security are possible through private networks and identifiable physical assets. Private cloud infrastructure also provides the ability to definitively meet regulatory and compliance requirements, such as data sovereignty.
- Risk Management – With private cloud resources, the movement of workloads suitable for public cloud services can be transitioned in steps, at a pace that manages risks and ensures business continuity. Private cloud resources can also include data protection infrastructure that supports immutable snapshots for very fast restore operations in the event of ransomware attacks.
Choosing Your Private Cloud Data Infrastructure
As you consider the advantages and benefits of an enterprise private cloud, your choice of storage infrastructure is critical to enabling these key attributes and value propositions. The scalability, performance, availability, economics, and security of your private cloud data infrastructure all critically depend on the capabilities of the storage systems from which they are constructed.
A key capability of private cloud storage infrastructure is the ability to support large-scale application workload and user consolidation. Storage consolidation offers very compelling benefits, including:
- Lower costs due to increased infrastructure density and lower energy and floorspace consumption
- Higher administrative productivity through centralized management of fewer systems
- Reduction of multi-vendor, frequent system refresh, and renewal cycles
- More efficient data sharing between applications
A move to a private cloud gives an enterprise the opportunity to streamline and consolidate storage, reducing costs of data storage, while improving agility. The challenges, however, have been capturing these benefits without impacting or being forced into unwanted compromises on availability or performance.
Petabyte Scalability and Operating Efficiency
The scalability of storage systems and their ability to operate at peak performance and operational efficiency at petabyte capacities are key enablers of storage consolidation and the improved efficiencies it can deliver in private cloud models. And, as the physical capacity on a system is consumed – even up to the limits of the platform – the system should continue to deliver consistent performance across multi-tenant users and application workloads.
Non-stop Operation with 100% Uptime
As you consolidate users and workloads into fewer storage systems, the inherent reliability and availability of those systems becomes paramount to your operational continuity. Building a private cloud with enterprise-grade, “always-on” storage systems can significantly improve the uptime metrics of your overall data infrastructure by operating on fewer overall system components at higher levels of utilization in highly reliable architectures. As you consider options and alternatives, it is important to also gather information on real-world customer experiences from industry analyst sources and other enterprise users operating at your scale.
A common challenge in enterprise IT is that there never seems to be enough people available for the day-to-day management of the infrastructure, from deploying and provisioning to optimization and performance monitoring. Private cloud architectures can help with this by automating the provisioning of as-a-service functions with elastic and interchangeable resources that are allocated dynamically based on the needs of the application. The storage systems you build your private cloud with should dynamically and autonomously adapt through inherent AI/learning capabilities to deliver optimized performance as workloads and users scale, without IT administration intervention. Predictive failure analysis and self-healing capabilities are also important capabilities to look for. These “set it and forget it” characteristics of your storage system infrastructure are key to minimizing administrative management tasks and freeing IT personnel to focus on more strategic, transformational projects.
Enterprise-grade Data Services
One of the major advantages of a private cloud is the ability to improve operational efficiency and business continuity with enterprise data services delivered as inherent capabilities of the storage systems infrastructure. Zero-impact read/writable and immutable snapshots simplify data protection and accelerate agile DevOps projects with nearly infinite copies of your data. Integrated synchronous, asynchronous, active/active, and concurrent multi-site replication provide the highest levels of data availability for business continuity and disaster recovery, supporting near-zero recovery point and recovery time capabilities. Private cloud storage infrastructure can also provide near-instantaneous recovery from ransomware attacks through local immutable snapshot copies of critical application datasets.
Flexible Economic and Consumption Models
For many enterprises, adopting a pay-as-you-grow consumption model for cloud compute infrastructure is a key enabler of their business models and capital allocation strategies. For maximum flexibility, users should select storage systems from providers who can offer the entire spectrum of economic models, from traditional capital purchase of the entire system to flexible capacity-on-demand options and true all-inclusive subscriptions with pay-as-you-go up/down scalability. To minimize risk and maximize agility, users should also look to partners who can deploy additional capacity in your data center ahead of your actual demand for it, ensuring it is instantly available when needed without any on-site service/upgrade action.
A Playbook for Your Enterprise Data Infrastructure
CIOs and other IT leaders want to know what can help them solve their most pressing issues and meet their operating objectives. This is why Infinidat is partnering with CIO magazine to provide a playbook on how to implement and obtain significant value from a private cloud. Over the next few months, we, along with industry experts, customers, and partners, will provide insights, tips, lessons learned, and pragmatic ways to think differently about the cloud.
For more information, click here.