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Why build a hybrid cloud, and why now?

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Laurence James
Laurence James

Two years ago, a colleague penned a blog titled “Why build an on-premises cloud?” And as I can only be described as an industry veteran these days, it’s always interesting to look back and ask, “What happened, and what’s coming next?”

At the time, the IT industry’s press spokespeople said that, eventually, all enterprise workloads would move to the public cloud. The implication was that this was the only way forward, because IT was “getting in the way of progress” by blocking development teams’ access to infrastructure resources and the new generations of developer platform services. What happened? Developer teams did indeed circumnavigate IT and took their project management frameworks, Waterfall (probably not!), Agile, Kanban, Scrum, manifestos, and vocabulary with them.   

Although the new applications were developed to run in the hyperscale clouds, the important customer-facing, revenue-generating, legacy applications continue to run  on premises. Lifting and shifting these workloads, although possible in some cases, solved nothing. Lifting and shifting legacy applications to cloud without reengineering and then calling them “cloud native” is blatant cloud-washing. And those who lifted and shifted their crown-jewel applications into the public cloud quickly discovered that they had lost elements of control. It was surprising how many public cloud event attendees I spoke to who were experiencing inconsistent application performance throughout the working day. Or perhaps it wasn’t surprising. Caveat emptor. 

Person working on a laptop

Into the new hybrid cloud world

The challenge for the traditional IT function was how to compete. A quick jump onto free tier or freemium cloud services quickly showed just how easy it is to design, procure, provision, monitor, and run applications. This route also exposed the chasm between the existing on-premises IT services and the equivalent hyperscale cloud services. The automation, simplicity, speed, agility, security, and flexibility would quickly lead you to conclude that the IT press was right and that all enterprise workloads would, indeed, move to cloud.

But—not so fast! As you look across the various hyperscale clouds, you soon realize that there’s little interoperability consistency among them. Sure, the operations are similar—compute, network, storage, security, apps, and so on—but selecting one might lock you into their world. Taking off my NetApp hat and putting on my customer hat, if I were writing a requirements doc, I would require a solution that’s agnostic of the cloud platform. I would also require the interoperability, automation, simplicity, speed, agility, security, flexibility, protection, and confidence that I spent many years building into my on-premises operation.

On-premises and off-premises clouds should be seamless extensions of one another. The customer should be in a position to take advantage of the following benefits, in either public or private clouds, in a consistent, repeatable, and predictable way:

  • Cost savings
  • Service levels
  • Data and service mobility
  • Security
  • Flexibility and agility
  • Speed
  • Collaboration
  • High availability, business continuity, and disaster recovery
  • Support
  • Compliance
  • Competitive advantage
  • Operational insight
Packing crates

A comprehensive hybrid cloud solution

In summary, most organizations will require a holistic hybrid cloud solution that’s interoperable and cloud agnostic. Hybrid cloud is predicted by mainstream analysts to become the dominant cloud model. Chris Kanthan of IDC perfectly articulated the situation in his recent IDC Market and Trends blog, The Road to Hybrid Multicloud:

Cloud adoption is not a destination. It is a journey with tremendous rewards for those who are willing to face daunting challenges on this path of digital transformation. The Holy Grail in cloud computing is a frictionless, hybrid multicloud that provides consistent experience and unified management across multiple    public clouds, private clouds, and even traditional infrastructure.

If you’re looking to achieve interoperability and visibility across all clouds, please take time to review our June 8 launch of the NetApp® hybrid cloud portfolio. There you’ll find new products, simplified management, financial flexibility, and data fabric services. I was particularly pleased to see on-premises support delivered across the NetApp cloud products—NetApp Cloud Manager, Cloud Backup service, Cloud Sense, Cloud Insights, and Cloud Tiering—and NetApp Astra™ Control aware data management supporting Kubernetes workloads across the hybrid cloud. 

Laurence James

Laurence is responsible for driving market awareness for NetApp’s products across EMEA. His focus is on business growth and aligning NetApp’s offerings with customer and market needs. Laurence works across all of NetApp’s products and has an in-depth understanding of diverse customer requirements to deliver value across the entire range of the product suite. Working with a dedicated and experienced team, he now assists in developing and implementing campaigns that support the positioning of NetApp’s Cloud Infrastructure products. Laurence has many years’ experience working with all aspects of Enterprise IT and held roles at Oracle, Sun Microsystems and StorageTek. For nearly 20 years he was Principal IT Consultant at the UK Meteorological Office.

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