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Why Build an On-Premises “Cloud”?

Bryce Cracco

Many of us have observed a changing of the guard at technology organizations, as control over the deployment of new apps has largely been shifted away from traditional IT groups to new dev groups. Often, these new groups prefer to go straight to the public cloud, where they get IT out of the way and have immediate, direct access to infrastructure resources, along with developer-friendly platform services. That might lead to the conclusion that on-premises development is all but dead. After all, if the bulk of new applications go on a public cloud, where does that leave on-premises IT in the long run?

However, even as the newer, scrappy dev teams build new apps on AWS, GCP and Azure, many existing on-premises systems keep plowing forward relentlessly. The legacy apps, and the substantial data they've produced over the years, often turn out to still be important money makers that aren't going away any time soon, and it’s often impractical to move these legacy apps to a public cloud, for a variety of reasons.

Also, as it turns out, newer public-cloud-based apps often need to interact with existing apps on some level, which requires more development on the premises in order to build cloud integrations. This is not a new phenomenon. Perhaps as a result of a big reorganization or a corporate merger or acquisition, something that was originally built to run off the premises gets bolted to something that was built to run on premises. So  on-premises development continues to make the fundamentally distinct architectures work together. (We’ve come to call this quandary “hybrid cloud,” and how we go about solving the challenges associated with it is a big area of ongoing engineering effort in the industry.)

Because situations like this have been going on for some years now, some of the now-not-so-new public-cloud-based apps are reaching maturity and have become relatively stable.  Money watchers are seeing some eye-popping public cloud bills and are looking for opportunities to reduce costs. As born-off-premises apps mature, some companies are beginning to wonder, “Maybe parts of it are cheaper and easier on premises, after all?” Therefore “lift and shift” programs are starting to happen on “the other direction” as well – going from public cloud to private cloud, at least in part.  Going back a few years, who’d have thought… yet here we are.

Scenarios like these drive hybrid cloud and private cloud investment. It turns out that the on-premises cloud isn't dead after all—yet nobody wants to adopt yesterday’s operating models to build tomorrow’s apps. Self-service, DevOps, cloud native—to facilitate these cloud-inspired trends, modern cloud infrastructure paradigms are needed on premises, too.

The major public cloud vendors are starting to recognize this need. All the major public clouds are trying to address the hybrid cloud scenario.  But let’s examine the implications of plopping some of these “cloud in a rack” systems down on premises. Sure, it looks like a quick and easy way to get true cloud capabilities on premises, but it also creates a “walled garden” that keeps your app (and the bills you pay) confined within one vendor’s overall ecosystem. It also tends to keep application architecture focused on one set of proprietary services.

Technologies related to containers were born to make workloads portable and agnostic. What happened here? “Cloud native” does not imply off premises—or at least it isn’t supposed to. Modern DevOps should work on premises just as well as off premises. Importantly, they should also work without vendor lock-in.

Enter the NetApp® portfolio. We want to enable modern applications to be born on premises, if desired, and to be able to run in the data center or the major public clouds.  We’re combining the best of our experience in traditional enterprise IT with newer, forward-looking technologies that enable clouds to be built on premises in an “open” way, without locking you in to any single vendor’s ecosystem. NetApp provides key ingredients to help you build a modern cloud—a private cloud with hybrid cloud capabilities, and cloud native tools that facilitate heterogeneity, delivering operational efficiencies built on real enterprise-grade, performant, scalable technology. And we are doing this in an open way, without forcing vendor lock-in.

As you can see, we’re already off to a great start. And we’re just getting warmed up!

Read all about the NetApp cloud story and watch the video below.

Bryce Cracco

Bryce Cracco is a Cloud Technologist at NetApp. Bryce has extensive product management and technology experience in areas spanning public cloud infrastructure, enterprise storage, and web applications. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration. Currently, Bryce’s primary professional interests and areas of research include IaaS on private cloud, containers (especially as a hybrid cloud vehicle), and automation / orchestration technologies that make businesses run more efficiently and reliably.

View all Posts by Bryce Cracco

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