Most of us think of Google Cloud as this massive, scalable compute environment designed for gigantic projects (think big data analysis, genome rendering, facial scanning and recognition, etc.). And yes, we wouldn’t be wrong. But did you know that you can use GC to also replace some of the more mundane yet functional aspects of your enterprise IT environment, in a way that is wildly cost justified? This means that you may be able to leverage one of the largest, most powerful universes of IT resources on the planet to service some of your daily operational workloads, getting the same benefits that the “killer apps” get.
If yours is a medium-to-large business with distributed operations (nationally, or even more important, globally), a key area to focus on is your distributed Windows file server workload. After all, distributed locations tend to come with distributed file servers. Every year, users create, use, and share ever-larger files that contain rich media, graphics, and embedded objects. It’s not uncommon to see simple Office365 files that are tens of megabytes, financial models that are hundreds of megabytes, and product designs that are gigabytes. All of these factors seem to preclude the use of the cloud due to distance and latency issues, demanding a local file server—a piece of local on-premises infrastructure that needs backup management, capacity management, performance and availability management, a BCDR plan, and, most frighteningly, audit and compliance management. (No one wants the pain of a GDPR violation.) But given the current waves of cloud storage and data management technologies, does it still need to be that way?
In the Google Cloud environment, the answer is “no.” Users around the globe are finding that they can consolidate dozens – even hundreds – of remote Windows file servers into a single, consolidated footprint by using NetApp® Cloud Volumes for Google Cloud. Based on the industry-leading ONTAP® software from NetApp, Cloud Volumes for Google Cloud is a managed offering that offloads the fundamental management of all of those file servers, including managing backup, uptime, capacity, audit, etc. You can have all of your remote Windows file servers rolled into a single point of control that is managed for you by NetApp Cloud Volumes in the Google Cloud.
But what about the latency issue? If your data is in GC us-west-1, isn’t that going to be an issue for a user in New York, London, or Tel Aviv? Not if you leverage the Global File Cache (GFC) service for Cloud Volumes. With GFC, users around the world can get visibility and access to cloud-resident file shares with the same workflow and experience that they’ve had for years. A global namespace allows the entire organization to see and use a larger, richer data source. Intelligent caching keeps frequently used files close to the user community that uses them for optimal performance. Global locking prevents the dreaded “last writer wins” conflict that plagues global collaboration. And optimized protocols and differencing technologies keep network overhead low and performance high.
Think about it: If you had 52 floors of a building in New York City, would you put a Windows file server on every floor? Or would you have everyone use an enterprise-class file server in the data center? Now, you can treat those 52 locations around the globe as if they were simply different floors of the same building, with everyone using a common data resource, without any change in their applications or workflow (so no user retraining). And the best part: Industry analyst models illustrate opex savings of up to 70%.
So although we tend to think of Google Cloud as a mega-resource for mega-compute problems, with this type of ROI, why wouldn’t we also leverage it for our more mundane workloads and make our lives a lot easier?
Would you like to learn more about NetApp Cloud Volumes and Global File Cache? Attend the webinar, Leveraging the Google Cloud to Modernize the Distributed Windows Ecosystem.
Chuck Foley is Sr. Director of Marketing focusing on cloud-based solutions. He’s a 30-year veteran of the IT industry, joining NetApp with their acquisition of Talon Storage in March 2020. His tours of duty in our market include running cybersecurity, video surveillance, ed-tech, and high-speed interconnect companies, giving him a good perspective of the challenges that our customers face and how to use technology to solve those issues. He’s also a six-time coach of the US National team for the International Taekwon-Do Federation World Championships, a former dolphin trainer, and a disc jockey back in the days of truly ‘classic rock’.