Dec 8, 2022 | Miryana Tashkova
In their 2022 Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage Gartner makes the following strategic planning assumptions:
“By 2026, large enterprises will triple their unstructured data capacity stored as file or object storage on-premises, at the edge or in the public cloud, compared to 2022. By 2025, more than 40% of enterprise storage will be deployed at the edge, which is a significant increase from 15% in 2022. By 2025, 60% of infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders will implement at least one of the hybrid cloud architectures, which is a major increase from 15% in 2022.”
The massive increase in the volume of data generated at the edge calls for efficient strategies to manage and move the data between the edge and the cloud, an approach known as hybrid cloud. As with many things, the devil’s in the planning details. While hybrid cloud can satisfy immediate needs of providing a link between local primary storage and the cloud for scalability & data protection, a hybrid cloud strategy should be just as much about meeting long-term infrastructure objectives and business goals.
This is vital in entire industries such as surveillance, healthcare, media and entertainment, oil and gas where organizations are witnessing an exponential increase in unstructured data while at the same time running established, often highly regulated on-premises workflows. So much so that the prospect of uprooting mission-critical operations, in other words, moving them completely to the cloud, may bring plans around cloud transformation to a screeching halt.
Is there a way to make the transition to the cloud a more viable option for such organizations both short-term and long-term?
This article will look at 5 key benefits of on-premises-first hybrid cloud and what makes it different from cloud-first models.
The on-premises-first (OPF) hybrid model is an infrastructure approach that prioritizes continuity of on-premises workflows and treats the cloud as an enhancer that can be removed without disruption, rather than a primary enabler of digital transformation. OPF hybrid cloud enables organizations to preserve operations, applications, function, and performance while growing and transforming via cloud adoption.
Unlike cloud-first approaches, an on-premises-first strategy does not require moving all or most of an organization’s infrastructure to a cloud-computing platform nor does it create proprietary ecosystems. However, it can be used to ultimately make this shift to running operations entirely through cloud servers if such is the goal of the business. To put it simply, where cloud-first may feel like taking a leap towards modernization, on-premises-first feels like making the jump with a safety net on.
Moving data to the cloud implies a disruption in multiple aspects of the business, which covers anything from security considerations, downtime/breaks in service, to staff having to adapt to a completely new way of working. From a technology standpoint, for example, moving to the cloud could mean not being able to preserve complex security controls and permissions set on organizational network shares by system administrators.
With OPF hybrid, users continue to access the same file formats, based on the same permissions, in the same on-premises location, and work with files in the same way as before even though data is moved to cloud storage.
This eliminates the fear of destabilizing underlying systems and processes within an organization, reminiscent of having to pull that block at the very bottom of a Jenga tower.
A range of factors, such as the need for cost reduction, staff considerations, better functionality or performance found elsewhere, may prompt an organization to change their data & storage strategy. This could mean switching from one cloud provider to another or wanting to return certain data sets and operations to on-premises environments. It is often hard or impossible to predict how the perceived business importance of such factors will change while still at the initial stages of digital transformation planning. OPF hybrid operates using open data formats to ensure that businesses remain flexible and can make the shift to a different operating model at any time.
Why do open formats matter? A lot of hybrid cloud solutions rely on proprietary systems and formats, which essentially means organizational data is tied to a certain vendor, and so it cannot be readily retrieved or migrated to a different vendor. This dependence is known as vendor lock-in, and it leads to substantial costs & complexities when retrieving data from the vendor.
OPF hybrid ensures vendor independence, so organizations can switch to a different cloud platform that is better suited to their evolving needs & goals, adopt multi-cloud, or return to working with data locally at no added cost.
OPF hybrid puts a stop to spending on expensive and complex on-premises hardware environments and does not rely on setting up virtual appliances. Ideally OPF is delivered as a software-only service, making it as straightforward as possible to connect to the cloud.
In addition, OPF hybrid does not require re-training staff to use a new proprietary ecosystem or significant cloud expertise as a prerequisite for adopting the cloud.
With its fundamental principle of storing data in its native format, OPF allows local storage to connect with object storage, any cloud provider & any cloud tier/storage class. This does not only add another layer of flexibility, but also allows businesses to substantially reduce storage costs by taking advantage of lower-cost cool and cold storage/archive tiers when it comes to infrequently accessed data.
To put this into perspective, while AWS S3 Standard is typically priced at $20 a TB/month, S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval and S3 Glacier Deep Archive can cost as little as $4 and $1 per TB/month, respectively. With over 60% of organizational data typically being infrequently accessed, the potential for cost reduction is immense if archive tiers are used behind the scenes in a hybrid environment.
In addition, unlike traditional on-premises approaches, OPF hybrid eliminates the need for capital investment in local storage by using an OpEx model. This is especially useful for organizations that find it hard to predict their data growth patterns and so end up buying too much or not enough on-premises hardware during each cycle. Unlike Goldilocks, organizations may never get it “just right” on premises. An OpEx model allows for increasing or decreasing storage capacity and associated costs on an as-needed basis – the business always pays just the right amount and as bonus does not have a growing, yet ageing hardware system to constantly deal with.
From a technological perspective, it’s about how the cloud can be adopted. From the point of view of the business, a more pertinent question would be how soon cloud adoption can start delivering value. Without sacrificing business continuity, that is. This is particularly important for organizations with mission-critical workflows. Take for example a large hospital generating petabytes of images which need to be archived cost-effectively as soon as possible, and accessed from multiple locations by multiple healthcare professional groups.
OPF hybrid enables businesses with mission-critical workflows to start using cloud storage and continue to observe security and compliancy requirements. IT departments can thus start realizing business value right away by meeting longer data retention times, protecting data from ransomware (yes, it’s time we started viewing ransomware protection as a business priority rather than just a technology priority), and greatly optimizing costs.
To ensure continued business growth and transformation, a key aspect of OPF hybrid is enabling workflows to be enhanced through cloud AI/ML & BI services. While this may not be an immediate goal for that very same hospital, it certainly makes it a lot simpler to already have the right model already in place. When the time is right, health data can be augmented by AI without having to deal with proprietary systems or users having to switch to a different workflow to be able to access AI-generated insights.
Tiger Bridge is Tiger Technology’s software-only data management solution designed for on-premises-first hybrid workflows. Tiger Bridge allows organizations to seamlessly protect and extend their local high-performance storage to any public cloud provider & tier, S3 object storage as well as on-premises NAS, tape, or object storage for maximum flexibility, without any impact on users or applications.
Tiger Bridge has a suite of policies that allow data managers to move data based on age or last-access times. It supports cloud archive tiers or tape for long-term and compliance data. Its Continuous Data Protection policy, versioning support, encrypted data transfer and anti-ransomware features along with Active Directory support provide complete data security.
Tiger Bridge is also vendor-neutral – it does not modify the data in any way ensuring unrestricted access via any application and it is future-proof for use with Big Data, Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning tools.
The amount of unstructured data generated on the edge is set to grow exponentially, and so building a smart strategy to integrate cloud storage & services is becoming paramount. This means making a calculated choice between a cloud-first and on-premises-first approach, one that ensures the strategy holds over time.
On-premises-first hybrid enables organizations to gain the scalability, resilience and multi-site sync capabilities of cloud storage as well as extracting further business value from their data through cloud AI. All this is achieved seamlessly with an explicit focus on flexibility & durability, cost optimization, low complexity and minimal disruption.
To find out more about how Tiger Bridge’s enables OPF hybrid, check out our dedicated video playlist. To request a demo, contact our Sales team.
1 Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage, Published 19 October 2022; Authors: Julia Palmer, Jerry Rozeman, Chandra Mukhyala, Jeff Vogel
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