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The cloud polyglot

Chris “Gonzo” Gondek
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Cloud Polyglot You probably read the title and immediately thought, “What the @#$! is a polyglot?”

Well, the official definition of the term polyglot is someone who speaks multiple languages.

In computing terms, a polyglot can be a program or script, written in multiple programming languages, which performs the same operations or output independent of the programming language used to compile or interpret it.

A polyglot can also be a person who knows a number of programming languages. These polyglot folks make excellent site reliability engineers, because they can work with and integrate multiple applications across different infrastructure environments. Sites with distributed applications are increasingly common.

So, what is a cloud polyglot? I basically made the term up (as far as I know of, as of 2020) to describe to my not so technical colleagues the reality of challenges we face, in terms of user experience, when we try to manage multiple cloud infrastructures.

If site reliability engineers can speak multiple programming languages, then surely there must be cloud architects and cloud engineers out there who can manage multiple cloud infrastructures (both on-premises private clouds and hyperscalers).

After doing much research and teaching myself AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud, IBM Cloud, and even Alibaba Cloud, I can personally attest to the fact that managing multiple cloud infrastructures is no easy task. And most cloud architects and engineers I speak with are at best, truly fluent in only one cloud architecture.

Striving for a unified experience in the cloud

But managing the cloud shouldn’t be difficult. Right? Most infrastructure folk learned how to deploy and manage x86-based virtual machines and their virtual infrastructure in the first decade of the 2000s. So, the transition to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) should be intuitive and easy. Right? It depends. The key differentiator between services is their user experience (UX).

Although all the clouds are providing IaaS, PaaS, and software as a service (SaaS), they each try to provide a competitive edge over the others. They provide a multitude of add-on and complementary services. Some cloud vendors tout hundreds of new services each week. That doesn’t reduce complexity.

User experience is increasingly important. After the advent of the iPhone, we all have an expectation of an Apple type of interaction with our technology. This is because we humans are mostly visual: We learn from visual interaction. So, we create colorful dashboards and charts to make sense of tons of data we would otherwise never be able to grasp properly.

Don’t get me wrong: CLIs and shells will always have a place, especially for automation activities. But when it comes down to the BAU (business as usual) – your day-to-day management of multiple cloud infrastructures – you need a GUI with an intuitive user experience. That GUI becomes increasingly important the more environments (and the more services within those environments) you adopt. As complexity increases, risk increases, significantly affecting your productivity.

So, what’s the answer to the challenges of the cloud polyglot? Well, I don’t have one yet. I have been searching for some time. The likelihood of a single truly unified experience to manage multiple heterogenous infrastructures seems almost impossible. Managing the amount of change in one hyperscaler is hard enough.

However, when it comes to managing storage and data across multiple heterogenous infrastructures, I have found a user experience that gives me hope that we are on our way to cloud polyglot nirvana.

Achieving cloud polyglot nirvana

I am speaking of NetApp® ONTAP® data management software and NetApp Cloud Manager.

The first thing I need to mention here is that NetApp ONTAP has been around for 28 years. ONTAP was developed to deliver data services. That very same software is what is still delivering data services regardless of the infrastructure it lives on. Today, ONTAP is found in data centers all over the world. It is also found in the public cloud both through marketplaces and within the hyperscalers themselves (on NetApp storage systems inside public cloud data centers).

Second, NetApp Cloud Manager is itself SaaS, meaning that it’s always on, ready to go in an instant. It is entirely managed by NetApp, so it is as highly available as the clouds themselves. It needs to be, if it is your single point of control across all your clouds and data centers. And Cloud Manager is keeping up to date with all the nuances and nomenclatures of ever-changing cloud interfaces – taking care of that for you, too.

The way ONTAP and Cloud Manager work together is important for two reasons.

The first reason is that the technology (ONTAP), with all of its features and with the user experience it gives you, is seamless and the same in any environment you find it in. This means that an investment in skills for data services with NetApp (such as for storage management, provisioning, data protection, disaster recovery, and tiering) gives you the same capabilities on any cloud. Therefore you are better prepared and more agile, with the choice of where you want to run your workloads and the need to maintain only one set of skills across a hybrid multicloud. Because you are prepared and agile, you have less risk and complexity – and greater productivity.

The second reason, and the one that resonates with me most personally, is that this user experience allows me (or any person responsible for storage and data management) to adopt a hybrid, multicloud, heterogenous architecture without having to invest a lot of time learning multiple interfaces and trying to keep track of and manage deployments and resources.

I am only scratching the surface here. ONTAP and Cloud Manager are the foundation of NetApp’s data management and public cloud services. But there’s much more to say about what else can be done on top of this foundation of data services.  Just two examples are compliance and cost optimization. With Cloud Manager as the single lens through which you deploy, manage, and maintain multiple data environments, you can add the other services you need, and they work smoothly on the foundation. You can then focus on the business outcomes you want in an efficient and highly satisfying way.

Cloud Manager is the beginning of the cloud polyglot solution, and it  works very effectively. The foundation of ONTAP and Cloud Manager works seamlessly, and the same technology is embedded in all the clouds. That can’t be said of many other solutions (if any).

Check out my “Introducing: NetApp Cloud Manager in 60 seconds or less” to get a taste of what I am talking about:

Chris “Gonzo” Gondek

Data Driven Technology Evangelist, NetApp ANZ

Techie with Table Manners

My mission is to enable data champions everywhere. I have always been very passionate about technology with a career spanning over two decades, specializing in Data and Information Management, Storage, High Availability and Disaster Recovery Solutions including Virtualization and Cloud Computing.

I have a long history with Data solutions, having gained global experience in the United Kingdom and Australia where I was involved in creating Technology and Business solutions for some of Europe and APAC’s largest and most complex IT environments.

An industry thought leader and passionate technology evangelist, frequently blogging all things Data and active in the technology community speaking at high profile events such as Gartner Symposium, IDC events, AWS summits and Microsoft Ignite to name a few. Translating business value from technology and demystifying complex concepts into easy to consume and procure solutions. A proven, highly skilled and internationally experienced sales engineer and enterprise architect having worked for leading technology vendors, I have collected experiences and developed skills over almost all Enterprise platforms, operating systems, databases and applications.

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