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Simplifying the multicloud of madness

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Spencer Sells
Spencer Sells

It’s a story I hear a lot. You know the value and capabilities of a hybrid, multicloud platform, but you’ve been running your on-premises environment the same way for a decade. You know every single knob and configuration, and you’re not sure how to let go of that control. What comes next? What new systems will you need to learn? How do you even know what you don’t know?

No one should be nervous about moving to the cloud. And you don’t have to be. NetApp has you covered, from your digital transformation to adding cloud and evolving to multicloud. Our three decades of experience, relationships with the world’s biggest cloud providers, and customer-forward SLAs behind the multicloud technology that you need, mean that you spend less time worrying about change. And that means more time to focus on your core business goals.

Solving the multicloud mystery

Taking that next step is not as complicated as you might think. Think of it in terms of where, who, what, and how much.

Consider geography first—especially if you need remote resources to connect in. Where do you operate? Where do you want your resources to operate? For example, we have customers in Canada who wanted two regions in-country for disaster recovery business continuity. Azure was the first to provide that, so they went with Azure.

Then there’s vendor selection. Customers choose cloud providers for all kinds of strategic reasons. Some e-retailers and retail customers aren’t interested in working with Amazon Web Services because they’re concerned that Amazon may compete with their core business. But other retailers aren’t so concerned about competition from Amazon and appreciate the value that AWS brings to their cloud experience.

After that, it’s a question of applications. Think of it like choosing on-premises operating systems. Based on the applications that you want to run, you might use Windows and a form of Linux or two, but you don’t standardize the infrastructure. You look at the applications you need to run and choose the best infrastructure to run them on. Same is true for cloud. If you use Windows and you’re doing .NET development, you might go with Microsoft's Azure cloud. Or maybe you’re like one media and entertainment company I talked to that was interested in Google because of its experience building YouTube over the past decade or so.

And of course, there’s cost. A company might use the size of its entry to create a bidding war and get better pricing that could tip the scales toward which cloud platform it chooses. Then there’s the question of how best to migrate. Migrating data takes time and bandwidth, but when NetApp transports data, our storage efficiency technologies let us do it at the smallest unit and amount possible. We make it so that you move only what’s safe to move and what you need to move. And when you’re ready to move your data, we can accelerate the migration with NetApp® replication tools.

A tale of two (or more) clouds

Moving into cloud takes time, and it comes with a learning curve. It’s a new operating environment, and customers need to learn governance, cost control, and security, so the typical initial multicloud stance is, “I’m on-premises and I’m mainly in one of the large clouds that I know well.”

But after a couple of years, customers look at their application needs and think, “I need a better-fitting cloud for this particular app.” I had a customer who was mostly doing Linux workloads and Java development, so they went with AWS as their main cloud and Active Directory for identity. But they also had a pressing need to develop AI solutions, and Google is strong there, so they went with Google Analytics’ artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. For them, multicloud meant leveraging the best fit for their needs.

When you go multicloud at a high level, you pick the best of breed and continually reap the benefits of each cloud’s different capabilities. That approach lets you innovate and drive your business forward with better cost management, faster digital transformation, and higher customer satisfaction and customer reach.

The how-to manual

I get that moving to the cloud – whether it is to 1 cloud or multiple can seem overwhelming. But that’s where commonality of services and automation comes in.

When you move to multicloud, the trick is to have a common toolset that lets you work in multiple cloud environments—like an umbrella. For example, you may have a CMDB that allows your internal customers to consume resources for charge-back and show-back monitoring. Monitoring tools like NetApp Cloud Insights allow you to monitor more than one cloud, so with a common environment and a common toolset, you don't have to learn something new.

You can also have commonality in the storage layer. One of the things that we’ve been working on for more than a decade is commonality of the data services and data management capabilities. That means you can have the same capabilities on-premises, in AWS, in Azure, or in Google.

Commonality also makes you more agile getting into cloud or moving from one cloud to another because not only do you have the capabilities, you can also use migration tools that come with those endpoints. When it comes to operations, governance, security, monitoring, and the data services and management layers, NetApp has the tools to give you these commonalities across multiple clouds.

A whole lot of care and feeding goes into making sure that you’ve got the right compute, the right networking and security, and the right storage, recovery, and optimizations—and frankly, it’s inefficient. NetApp services, in the storage layer, the compute layer, and in monitoring look at what’s needed and automatically tune for what’s optimal, freeing you up to look after what matters most: your business.

Howdy, partner!

Multicloud is complex in the same way that running multiple operating systems is complex. Companies typically have teams that specialize in a single cloud because the APIs, functionalities, services, billing models, ecosystem of third-party software, scripting, pricing—are all different. But what you really need is a team with the engineering chops to handle these different environments and changing needs. And finding that kind of team is getting harder and harder in a competitive hiring market.

What if there were a team with that kind of engineering know-how that could handle all your multicloud needs and give you the kind of compute you need at the best price? We’ve got you covered there, too.

 We use AI and ML to find the best prices on specific compute buying capabilities, called reserved instances or spot instances. You say to us, “Hey, I need an SLA to be at this performance level, with this level of protection, and I need to have multiple copies for business continuity, and I want it to be as cheap as possible.” We automatically tune that environment for the compute layer and the storage layer, and monitor so that if something happens we can migrate as needed—all so you don’t have to.

Just think … no more painful and time-consuming VM management, and you’ll typically save 60% to 80% on the compute.

…And they all lived happily ever after in the cloud

So here we are, back at the story I know so well, with the company that recognizes the benefits of a hybrid, multicloud strategy, but isn’t sure how to make it all happen. Listen, I know it’s complicated, but putting your head in the sand isn’t the best strategy—not even for ostriches. I’ve had some tough love sessions with customers over the years. I remember meeting with one gentleman who wanted nothing to do with cloud. He said, “I’m going to retire in 2 years.” So I said, “Okay. Perfectly rational.” Then I looked over at the person next to him and said, “You’re going to succeed him. And if you’re not ready to retire in 2 years, you’d better start learning these techniques, because this is the new technology.”

Here at NetApp, we’ve been doing hybrid multicloud for a long time. We’ve built our reputation on integrity, and we have a track record as a reliable partner who knows these environments. We have the solutions you need as well as relationships with AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and many others, which puts us in an ideal position to help you write your multicloud story.

Learn more

Learn more at NetApp Cloud Services.

Spencer Sells

Spencer leads the Cloud Services Solution Planning team in the Cloud Data Services Business Unit focused on enabling customers to run workloads in public clouds. The team consists of product managers and solution architects that work on Cloud Volumes Service and Azure NetApp Files. Prior to this role, Spencer spent eight years at NetApp leading the product and solution management team responsible for providing the best storage for virtual server, virtual desktop, and cloud environments. Spencer has worked in enterprise storage industry for over twenty years. Prior to joining NetApp Spencer held various product management and product marketing positions for Brocade Communications, as well as product management, marketing and operations positions at Gadzoox Networks and Amdahl. Spencer holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Stanford University, and a Master of Arts in International Economics and Japan Studies from Johns Hopkins.

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