What will your cloud fabric of the future look like?

What do global organisations like GE, Capital One, Netflix, and LiveNation have in common? Each has taken a pioneering approach to cloud strategy where all applications are or soon will be run and managed in the cloud. Indeed, the ‘all-in’ cloud concept is becoming increasingly popular across enterprises as we find more and more amazing stories of companies aggressively embracing the cloud.

A multi-cloud strategy

We are also seeing more organisations implement a multi-cloud strategy as a critical component of ‘all-in’, enabling them to preserve cloud optionality while strengthening their business continuity models. A multi-cloud strategy, in which organisations use multiple cloud services rather than relying on any single vendor, provides a layer of added protection through the use of multiple providers while still reaping the benefits of an all-in strategy.

Organisations are evolving their stacks to benefit from the economics, deployment automation, and management approach that cloud users benefit from. In essence, tomorrow’s CIO strategy looks much like today’s, when you can go into any enterprise data centre and find it nearly all full of Vendor A‘s equipment, only to find a little bit of Vendor B‘s products there too, purchased by the customer to keep Vendor A honest. In the future, organisations will ensure multi-cloud price options by:

  • Deploying applications that are portable across multiple cloud platforms – like CTERA
  • Looking beyond initial incentive pricing to develop a long-range TCO model
  • Fully understanding the cost of migration to know when it makes sense to move, and when it doesn’t
  • And finally, keeping relationships and some amount of applications hosted with all relevant cloud providers, only to ensure that if you decide to migrate applications and data that your team is familiar with their platform and can easily migrate

Another vital aspect of a multi-cloud strategy is that it offers better comfort from a business continuity perspective. For example, when you’ve moved your applications to the same cloud data centre you used to use for offsite protection of your private data centre, where is your new offsite?

Considering business continuity

As organisations think about moving all-in on the cloud, data protection becomes a complicated and critical component of a risk management strategy. The game has totally changed as organisations look to protect servers running in the cloud and, while cloud providers offer some level of backup services to protect cloud servers and applications, these services will typically lock vendors into a specific cloud platform – limiting portability, price options, and the ability to recover to another cloud in the case of a truly catastrophic event.

In the future, we expect enterprises will ensure business continuity for applications running on cloud IaaS by selecting a backup platform that supports a variety of cloud APIs so that it’s easy to backup to any infrastructure as a service or any on-premise object storage. In addition, we expect enterprises to optimise backups at the source using granular backup tools, deduplication and compression to ensure it’s possible to backup and recover across wide area networks. Finally, enterprises will implement cross-cloud replication of backups to enable near-instant recovery after any major cloud outage via a secondary provider, without requiring expensive application-level live replication and CDP tools.

While a growing number of enterprises are embracing the all-in concept, there are reasons to be cautious and some businesses, understandably, are hesitant to put their data into the cloud. They have maintained tight control of it by keeping it on-premise but are now starting to consider using cloud to store their data. However, before businesses can move any data, they need to put in place the infrastructure they need that takes account of their specific requirements.

Going all-in with cloud delivers many exciting opportunities for enterprises but it is a substantial commitment and it is certainly worth exploring a multi-cloud strategy that keeps your options open while allowing you flexibility and the ability to achieve compliance.

Jeff Denworth, SVP at CTERA

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