By Claude Schuck, regional manager for Africa at Veeam
With the rising demand for virtualized solutions being fuelled by businesses wanting to embrace digital transformation, the hybrid cloud is expected to be one of the most valuable technology opportunities for enterprises this year. But how will this impact on availability strategies?
The modern enterprise must be founded on key technologies provided by virtualization, modern storage systems and cloud computing to be fully transformative. This places a strain on the availability of data and information, as it involves updating legacy systems and investing time and money.
It is critical for availability to be at the forefront of any digital transformation or hybrid cloud strategy. Doing this will ensure that when applications and workloads are being moved across various infrastructures, there is a backup and disaster recovery plan in place to guarantee that downtime is not an issue.
A hybrid cloud environment
For the always-on enterprise to take advantage of the opportunities the hybrid cloud presents, it must apply the same principles used in maintaining multiple data centres to data storage in the cloud.
IDC predicts that organisations will require a mainly cloud-based IT environment by 2019, and 451 Research claims that public storage spend will double in the next two years as demand for on-premise storage declines.
Predictions of hybrid cloud’s promise have seen many international and local organisations laying plans for such an environment. For example, British educational publisher Pearson has established a flexible global hybrid infrastructure with common systems and processes. This frees up resources to invest in new, web-oriented educational products and assists the organisation to shift its focus towards the fast-growing market of South Africa.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has established a firm foothold in Africa since its Cape Town launch in 2006, providing online services to companies across industry sectors on the continent. Its strong African focus is supported by good solutions architecture and enterprise support but, more importantly, by local organisations who understand the business benefits of going hybrid.
Hybrid is growing in popularity as it offers not only the flexibility and data deployment benefits of public cloud, but also provides the security assurance of on-premises, private cloud – effectively giving businesses the best of both worlds. This means organisations can now store their most important or sensitive data on the private cloud while storing other resources on public networks.
However, decision-makers should resist the temptation of jumping headfirst into a hybrid cloud strategy. Instead, they should consider the business reasons for doing so and map out the implications of the move, the types of workloads it will be used for, and the business outcomes that can be achieved before embarking on the hybrid journey.
The move towards hybrid cloud makes the integrity of data and services a major priority for enterprises. It will, therefore, be important to get the right mix of on-premise and various as-a-service offerings, to ensure data is always available and synchronised across multiple platforms.
While there is plenty of talk about the hybrid opportunity, there still are not enough enterprises tapping into the lower cost and flexibility benefits of the public cloud. There remains an assumption that data must be kept on-premise due to perceived security issues but, as attitudes change, enterprises must look beyond simple application testing in the public cloud environment.
The 2016 Veeam Availability Report found that, despite investing in their data centres, 82 percent of businesses admit suffering an availability gap between how fast they can recover applications and how fast they need applications to be recovered. They are therefore unable to meet end-users’ requirements for an always-on business.
The growth in data is already high, but it is going to reach exponential levels that will put even greater strain on legacy IT systems. This means that the need for a hybrid cloud approach is more important than ever to deliver on customers’ increasingly demanding expectations.
Hybrid cloud needs to be used in a way that benefits the individual organisation, and its workloads. For example, it is particularly beneficial to a university as it can choose to move some workloads to the public cloud at particularly busy times during the year, such as the recent first-year registrations when they must deal with a vast influx of data that its on-premise setup may not be able to handle.
It is no longer acceptable for downtime to affect any service. Enterprises must have a clear cloud strategy in place before they fully invest in cloud infrastructure, whether hybrid or not. At the core of this is ensuring data and information is always available.