On your journey to hybrid cloud, you’ll encounter new storage challenges

By | 3 minute read | October 14, 2019

This is part three in a 6-part series on storage for hybrid cloud. In Part 1 I set the stage – getting us all on the same page with the terminology. In Part 2 we explored what’s behind this rapid industry shift toward hybrid cloud infrastructure. In Part 3 we’re going to take a look at how IT organizations are approaching their journey to hybrid cloud and the unique storage challenges that are emerging.

From our experiences across thousands of client engagements, we know that every client journey to hybrid cloud is somewhat unique. We do, however, also see common adoption patterns, or entry points, on the client journey:

  • The first we call Migrate. This process is about lifting and shifting existing applications (or data) to the cloud — without redesigning the apps. This method is most often used for less complex, off the shelf applications that do not have extensive dependencies. A good example is email. The advantage of this approach is typically avoiding the purchase of new hardware by renting cloud infrastructure or storage.
  • The second we refer to as Modernize. Here clients are rewriting the application to run on the cloud in a more native way. For example, by using containers and microservices in this stage, you are essentially making the application more agile, easier to update, and easier to move. Your lines of business will certainly get to this step. Your storage needs to be ready.
  • Third is Innovate. This is building (creating) new cloud-native applications, which is to say they are designed specifically to run and benefit from cloud environments. Your storage needs to assist with data mobility and security.
  • Finally, is the stage we call Manage. As companies build new apps on the cloud, adopt software as a service, and migrate and modernize existing apps to run on an increasing mix of clouds and vendor platforms, they must adapt tools, processes and skills to enable continuous delivery of new features, and ensure the same level of service quality and resiliency. Your storage needs to be flexible and provide a consistent approach to management, operation and automation.

From a purely storage point of view, some of the challenges remain the same. In the first post in this series I introduced an IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study[1]. Over half of respondents shared statements that storage professionals and IT managers would all recognize.

  • Data keeps getting bigger – and these next generation applications are accelerating the pace of data getting bigger – but my budget isn’t getting that much bigger so I need to cut infrastructure costs.
  • I don’t want to be locked in to any one vendor and at the same time I want to avoid having multiple vendor silos each with different APIs, capabilities, procedures, and so on.
  • I need to make things go faster, a LOT faster, to satisfy the needs of my lines of business users.

But hybrid cloud is introducing a new set of challenges too. First, you now need to be concerned with how your storage connects, not only inside your data center, but also to the hybrid cloud. Remember, containers can move an application and its runtime, but when the application gets to where it is going, it needs access to the data. Replication, snapshots, and data migration all need to work across the hybrid cloud.

Second, you also need to be concerned with where your storage is located in the hybrid cloud. On-premises private clouds and individual public clouds can have different security, performance, and availability characteristics.

And finally, it seems the pace of vendor innovation in storage infrastructure is picking up. It might be because this whole era of cloud, AI, big data, and analytics has strapped a rocket to the demands placed on the storage infrastructure, but whatever the reason, hybrid cloud has made it important to rapidly adopt the latest innovations. Your storage needs to facilitate that.

So how do you move forward? In Part 4, we’ll explore some best practice guidance for navigating the change.

What do you think? Which stage of the client journey to hybrid cloud best describes your organization? Which of the storage challenges look most familiar?  Join the conversation using one of the social links below!

Read Part four here.

[1] IBM Institute for Business Value, Assembling your cloud orchestra – A field guide to multicloud management, 2018