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To the Cloud!

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Selecting a Cloud Platform

Going to the cloud is a journey.  But we aren’t moving to a location.  It’s about discipline, it’s about really knowing what you expect and how to go about fulfilling those expectations. Whether your intention is to check out a proof of concept environment with multiple servers and applications, to test out archiving data to a cloud bucket, or to simply cut capital costs, selecting a cloud platform is just like choosing a life partner.  Selecting this partner isn’t easy either.  With so many options to be considered, you need to take into account a number of things before embarking on your journey. 

Looking at the combination of services in the infrastructure, platform or software spaces, will provide an indication for which cloud provider best aligns with your current strategy.  It is also important to look at how a hybrid cloud infrastructure may affect which provider can handle your needs.  Finally, knowing the security measures you’ll like can further narrow the list, based upon the offerings providers have available to you and your organization. 

Services 

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service 

This service provides hosted virtual machines, storage and networking.  Similar to what happens in the data center today, without the need to purchase or provision hardware.  Tasks such as OS and application deployment as well as patching, can be automated but are still the responsibility of the organization to manage. 

PaaS – Platform as a Service 

This service provides the databases, web services, and runtimes running on top of the infrastructure.  No need to install OS, applications and patches. 

SaaS – Software as a Service 

This service provides the applications running on top of the platform. 

Hybrid Cloud 

 Compute 

The implementation of a hybrid cloud compute environment requires a public IaaS platform and a private cloud.  Those organizations with existing on premise virtual environments will potentially need a cloud software layer to enable cloud capabilities.  This model allows for compute environments to be provisioned, moved and scaled where they are needed. 

 Storage 

Hybrid cloud storage provides local storage access with the added benefit of moving inactive data to a cloud bucket.  Additionally, this model can provide a platform that moves data where the workloads make sense.  Another benefit of the hybrid storage model is the potential to move off of tape for backup.   

 This method provides some key benefits: 

  • Eliminate tape handling 
  • Immediate restores 
  • Reduction of cloud storage using a deduplication appliance 

 Security and Controls 

Internally, look at the current controls and capabilities of the existing business processes and infrastructure as well.  There are many different questions to ask yourself: 

  • Is there a security requirement to have encryption in flight of backup data?   
  • Do those capabilities exist or will additional hardware and/or software be required? 
  • How will the data in the cloud be secured? 
  • How do we manage cloud virtual machines? 
  • Do existing tools work with cloud providers?  If so, which ones? 
  • Will there be a way to integrate 

 *A word to the wise, be sure your cloud service provides an SLA or guarantee against data loss that matches your business needs. Not all do by default. 

Having a grasp on your organizational cloud goals, gives an understanding of the best course to set when selecting a cloud platform.  To perform such a selection requires the appropriate analysis of how things work, what might be in the data center to help with the decision, and what might change in the future.  This kind of undertaking requires diligence and commitment for successful cloud journey.  So, as you set off on your own path, be diligent, patient, and use due diligence as you move through ideation and into implementation.  May the odds be ever in your favor, good luck! 

– Jeff Hoeft, NetApp Storage Consultant for Evolving Solutions