Apr 2, 2021 | Paul Reeve
What exactly is hybrid cloud? There are several definitions of hybrid cloud but for the purpose of this article we are considering it to be a mixed computing, storage, and services environment made up of on-premises infrastructure, private and/or public cloud with orchestration among the various platforms.
The Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report highlights that 87% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. According to a recent Enterprise Strategy Group report (May 2020), “On-premises integration is vital to hybrid cloud strategies. Many organizations have an on-premises-first mindset as they begin to formulate their hybrid cloud strategies. When asked to identify the most important consideration in these decisions, more than half cited seamless compatibility with their on-premises infrastructure. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of organizations stated that it was critical or very important that public cloud service providers offer solutions that integrate with their on-premises environments.”
The ESG report also found that “in terms of organizations’ approach to hybrid cloud, more than two-thirds (68%) plan to take an infrastructure-up approach in which they will look to extend their on-premises environment by integrating with public cloud infrastructure service functionality”.
The key objective in adopting hybrid cloud is the storing of different categories of data in the place where it is most effective. Latency is key here. Most clouds will have different storage tiers from hot to cold. Hot tiers are low latency with high storage costs while cold tiers will be high latency (up to hours or days to recover data) offset by much lower storage costs. Egress charges will also typically be higher for cold storage. Since bandwidth to cloud is a further potential bottleneck that must be considered in the hybrid model, it follows that the very highest category of data will always ideally be on premises.
So, step one is to consider the data classification in terms of usage and determine where this can live cost-effectively from a storage, retrieval, and data durability perspective.
1. Understanding hybrid cloud costs
There are several components to consider when looking at hybrid cloud deployment costs. Storage costs are a large component and so ensuring data lives in the lowest cost tier in relation to its lifecycle is key.
Transport cost will also be important. Moving and retrieving data to and from cloud requires bandwidth. A hybrid strategy may require larger bandwidth and uninterrupted access might involve adding redundant bandwidth links. These must be factored into the type of deployment.
Access costs to data through egress charges must also be considered. Some new cloud providers like Wasabi and RSTOR have free ingress and egress for data while others will have varying charges throughout their tiers. Many clouds will have minimum contract terms for some lower-cost storage categories.
Recovery point objectives or the amount of data an organisation can afford to lose must be factored in when designing hybrid clouds. Cloud storage is inherently secure with many providers offering 11 nines of durability, and geo diversification of data will also provide additional security. However, always consider how many copies of critical data you have where.
Recovery time objectives will be specific to the amount of time you can be without your data in the event of some disaster. Again, storage tier classes and their SLAs and available bandwidth are key considerations if you must recover data from the cloud.
3. Security and data sovereignty
All hybrid cloud strategies should consider encryption of data both in transit and at rest when implementing these solutions. Cloud services are extremely proficient in these areas so these are not difficult to implement.
Access controls are vital and should be implemented on a least access principle. Segregate data so you can easily control who has access rather than create large buckets or blobs of data that will be difficult to manage.
Lastly, look at where data is stored or may be replicated to, to ensure you meet any compliance over data sovereignty.
4. Seamless Data Integration
Enterprises will not adopt hybrid cloud strategies that add complexity to existing applications and workflows. ESG found that two-thirds of respondents “define hybrid cloud as the ability to manage applications and resources that span across or are located on premises and off premises.”
Gateways: Cloud providers typically provide on-premises gateways as the initial step to hybrid cloud deployments. Gateways are usually deployed as an on-premises cache. Hot data is stored in the local cache while older data gets moved to a cloud tier. Obviously if data is not in the cache, it must be retrieved. Cache misses can cause fluctuations in performance. Gateways also add an additional infrastructure and management layer.
Virtual file systems: These applications will provide a single namespace virtual storage environment across on-premises infrastructure and cloud. Good examples like NetApp, Nasuni and Panzura can be very powerful data management tools that offer high performance, file sharing and locking and a single management structure. The disadvantages are typically cost, a proprietary infrastructure for data access and complexity.
Tiger Bridge was designed with hybrid cloud in mind. Tiger Technology’s design was built on the concept that high-performance applications like media editing will always be done on premises to meet the exacting performance required for these workflows. However, there will be a need for backup, disaster recovery and archive of finished content to lower-cost storage systems.
No additional hardware: For many workflows Tiger Bridge will install on the same application server reducing the need for any additional hardware.
Seamless data integration: Tiger Bridge directly interacts with the file system and the cloud APIs. Administrators set policies for what data is moved to the cloud and when. As this interaction takes place at the file system level it is transparent to users and applications. There is no need to change any workflow practices.
Cost optimisation: Administrators can easily set policies to ensure that data automatically always lives on the correct storage tier. When data is no longer required to be on local storage it can be automatically moved to a hot tier in the cloud and then to cold tiers as it becomes archive data. Tiger Bridge automatically recovers the data when requested by a user or application.
RPO/RTO: Tiger Bridge moves data to the cloud continuously. RPO can be as close to zero as required. Versioning support means you can also easily access previous versions of a file. RTO can also be dramatically reduced. In the event of a server failure Tiger Bridge restores the file metadata from the cloud, meaning that users have almost immediate access to their data without having to wait for everything to download or be restored. They only need to download data as it is needed.
Security and data sovereignty: Tiger Bridge integrates with Active Directory so users can be restricted to only seeing the data they are entitled to. Data transfers are encrypted to protect data in transit, and it fully supports cloud policies for versioning and WORM functions. It supports any public or private cloud allowing users to choose where they want to have data storage for sovereignty purposes.
Non-proprietary: Tiger Bridge does not add any proprietary overlay to data, meaning that data is always available in its original format and can be accessed with or without Tiger Bridge.
Hybrid cloud is clearly a core part of many organisations’ IT strategy. However, it should not be undertaken lightly. Organisations do not want to implement hybrid cloud strategies that do not fit existing workflows or that add cost or complexities. An infrastructure-up strategy is the preferred solution, meaning the local infrastructure extends to the cloud seamlessly rather than changing to meet the needs of the cloud. Always consider how the cloud costs will impact your hybrid workflows and of course ensure you always have access to your data as needed.
Want to find out how Tiger Bridge enables hybrid cloud workflows? Check out our dedicated videos.