The term “cloud” these days means all things to all people. There is a lot of noise out there attempting to demystify a topic which, to my mind, is not as complicated as people would have you believe: the hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud is, at its core, nothing more complicated than a combination of two or more clouds that are separate entities, joined together.
Before discussing the various benefits and opportunities that hybrid cloud provides businesses in the age of digital transformation, let’s start by saying that the days of monolithic IT infrastructure are over.
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By definition, cloud is a shared infrastructure, which is multi-faceted and made up of different blocks. In this article, we will look at how digital transformation will accelerate the adoption of more modular approaches such as block storage, which improve flexibility and control by bringing applications and compute closer to the storage.
Singular versus modular
Last autumn Gartner surveyed 2,600 CIOs worldwide, and found that CIOs are already spending 18% of their budget in support of digitalisation but that number will increase to 28 percent by 2018.
The impact of this worldwide spend trend is captured by IDC figures which show that spending on digital transformation technologies will grow to more than $2.1 trillion in 2019 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8% over the 2014-2019 forecast period.
The trend towards digital transformation is highly relevant to the hybrid cloud and block storage topic area. A successful digital transformation will be built on a clear, singular strategy which brings together the core business needs with its technological capabilities. The business model is, in part, changed – arguably dictated by the technological needs of the business, its stakeholders and its customers.
Digital platforms must evolve to meet those needs, and data, the asset which has the most lasting value for any business, must be placed at the heart of its strategic decision making process.
In contrast, in order to achieve a singular strategy which encompasses needs across the business regardless of department, function or location, the technological infrastructure on which this transformation is built needs to be flexible, fluid and modular. One could say that the clearer and more robust the strategy, the greater the need for a modular, highly customisable storage infrastructure.
>See also: Enterprise cloud storage: usage and trends
In order to bring this concept to life, we have to get a little more granular. Digital transformation will demand a certain level of service from each application that the business uses – whether it’s internal reporting or a customer-facing solution.
This deterministic, performance-led approach which is dictated by desired business outcomes requires IT to have tighter control over the level of service which can be achieved by individual applications.
This is where block storage excels as it enables that tighter control by positioning the application closer to the storage in the stack. This is not possible in a monolithic storage infrastructure where multiple applications run off the same servers and is one of the great advantages of a shared infrastructure, such as the hybrid cloud.
Likewise, the more ambitious and scalable a digitisation strategy, the more modular the infrastructure needs to be. Shared infrastructure brings economies of scale in terms of building out your infrastructure in terms of both volume and capability based on business need.
In the context of digital transformation, businesses may wish to future-proof from an IT perspective, anticipating an upsurge in data being produced by the business, or recognising that growth and expansion need to be underpinned by an agile and scalable infrastructure.
There are a number of excellent approaches which businesses are already using to set them on the path to digital transformation. Cloud orchestration solutions such as OpenStack, CloudStack, VMWare and Flexiant help businesses optimise their shared infrastructure to achieve the economies of scale their business strategy depends on.
One of the challenges of cloud orchestration is ensuring that all of the modular storage environments you are using in tandem are tightly integrated and interoperable, crucial for ensuring a seamless movement of data across your IT provision. NetApp designed its storage system from the ground up to handle the scale, performance and management requirements of large-scale cloud infrastructure.
Combined with NetApp’s Data Fabric, which enables data to flow freely and securely across different storage environments including the hybrid cloud, this gives businesses the tools they need to manage their hybrid cloud more easily.
This breeds the confidence to invest in more sophisticated, modular storage strategies, which lay the foundations necessary for a cohesive and transformative process of digitisation.
Sourced by Martin Cooper, senior director, WW Systems Engineering NGDC, NetApp