Multicloud Storage

5 Multicloud Challenges in Data Management (and What You Can Do About Them)

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As organizations are trying to adopt the best solutions and services offered by different cloud service providers for their workloads, multicloud storage and deployment strategies are on the rise.

This blog will look into five of those multicloud challenges and explore how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help navigate them:

What are Common Challenges in the Cloud?

The cloud provides a lot of flexibility and agility; however, it comes with some challenges all of its own.

  • Learning curve
  • Paradigm shift in resource management
  • Cost model confusion
  • Optimizing resource usage
  • Ensuring the same security as in the data center
  • Cloud spending sprawl

These challenges are only intensified in multicloud deployments.

What Is Multicloud Deployment?

There are numerous cloud service providers today, and they all offer competitive pricing and capabilities for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services. When organizations choose different cloud service providers to support their application portfolio, the resulting architecture is considered a multicloud deployment.

The latest State of the Cloud research statistics show that 93% of enterprises are considering multicloud strategy as a key element of their cloud adoption. Among the factors that make multicloud deployment attractive are:

  • Deployment flexibility
  • Greater business continuity
  • Leveraging specialized services in different clouds
  • Avoiding lock-in with any specific vendor

Multicloud deployment may also result from events like mergers and acquisition where different entities have started off with different cloud platforms. This can lead to situations where applications have data spread across multiple cloud platforms leading to many data management challenges.

While the use of multiple clouds can help organizations to choose from the best options available to them without being restricted to a single cloud service provider, it can lead to some additional overhead in terms of complexity, security, visibility, and—perhaps most challenging of all—management.

How Do I Manage Multiple Clouds?

Training your IT team to skill up on managing one cloud platform itself would be a time-consuming process—with multiple clouds in the mix it is definitely an uphill battle. Most organizations using multicloud deployments often find themselves dealing with multiple management dashboards and tools for their day-to-day operations. While it might work for small scale deployments, you might have to look for robust non-native solutions that offer visibility and control over a multicloud landscape.

While some cloud providers offer cross-cloud support for a subset of capabilities, such as cost management and security, they mainly focus on developing tools and services to manage their respective platforms. However as these statistics indicate, that doesn't stop organizations from adopting multicloud.

Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that come along with a multicloud strategy.

Challenge #1: Visibility: Why Is Multicloud Storage Visibility and Management Important?

When your applications use storage from different cloud service providers, it can be difficult to gain full visibility into your cloud storage landscape. Storage provisioning and management will also need different tools and processes which increases your operational overhead. Data synchronization between storage systems in different cloud platforms is another notable challenge.

The use of containerized applications with Kubernetes can make this even more of a challenge. Organizations have to provision and manage the persistent volumes for Kubernetes clusters deployed across multiple cloud environments, and orchestrating all of it can become a handful.

For a storage administrator, this can amount to a maze of different resources only accessible using different user consoles. It’s important to get a single pane visibility of storage systems and coherence of management processes to remain agile and meet business demands.

Challenge #2: Protecting the Data: What Makes Multicloud Environment Data Protection Difficult?

In order to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery, it’s imperative that organizations have well-defined data protection strategies in place. But when it comes to multicloud deployments, you’ll have to resort to backup and recovery services offered by your respective cloud providers.

To tackle the problem means defining and managing different kinds of backup policies and following different procedures for recovery. You would also need to ensure that the RPO and RTO targets of organizations are met with these native tools in all the platforms where data resides, making data protection a dizzyingly complex problem to solve.

Challenge #3: Keeping the Data Moving: How to Manage Data Migration Between Multicloud Environments?

There are not many native cloud platform tools that help migration of data between service providers. Most of their offerings focus on data migration from on-premises data centers to their respective cloud platforms.

However, to gain true flexibility in multicloud deployments and avoid vendor lock-in, organizations should be able to freely migrate data between different platforms on demand. You should also eliminate the requirement to hop between multiple tools to enable the migration. That will most likely mean turning to migration tools that are offered outside of the cloud providers in use, and that can increase costs.

Read more about moving data between AWS and Azure here.

Challenge #4: Multiple Security Services: How to Meet Data Security Requirements with Multicloud Providers?

Different cloud service providers offer different solutions for security of data at rest and in motion. These encryption services are often dependent on the key management services of respective cloud platforms. The same goes for virus and malware protection tools.

Juggling all of these provider-specific security requirements adds another set of dependent services your storage administrators need to deal with to get the day-to-day work done. It also involves a learning curve where they have to get familiarized with these tool specifications and configurations to be productive.

Challenge #5: Automation and Orchestration: What Are the Constraints?

Every cloud platform offers automation and orchestration capabilities that can help with provisioning and lifecycle management of resources, be it ARM templates on Azure, the AWS CLI, or the Gcloud CLI. This is in addition to the cloud management APIs that can be used for easy integration with automation tools of your choice or DevOps solutions. However, they are all very focused on native capabilities and do not help in addressing multicloud dependencies.

Using so many orchestration tools and services can be a multicloud challenge because you might end up using different vendor specific APIs to manage the storage volumes deployed in different platforms. Another option is to use third-party tools and integrations or even develop your own management tools which could increase the overall cost and complexity.

Address Your Multicloud Challenges with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides an enterprise-class data management solution that offers the same storage efficiency, flexibility, and security as on-premises ONTAP in the cloud platforms of your choice: AWS, Azure, and GCP.

It is a vendor-agnostic solution that can be used to manage storage on any of the cloud platforms as well as on-premises. There are several ways Cloud Volumes ONTAP addresses the challenges we covered above:

Single-pane visibility

With NetApp Cloud Manager, Cloud Volumes ONTAP has a single management pane for managing storage volumes across multiple cloud environments, as well as on-premises. You can use the same process for provisioning, managing, automating, and managing access to storage volumes irrespective of on which cloud platform they are deployed.

This also comes handy in multicloud Kubernetes deployments where Trident, the NetApp dynamic storage provisioner, can leverage Cloud Volumes ONTAP to deploy persistent volumes for your K8s clusters across environments and manage them all from Cloud Manager.

Snapshot-based data protection

NetApp Snapshot™ technology in Cloud Volumes ONTAP can be used to create point-in-time copies of Cloud Volumes ONTAP volumes for data protection. Managed through Cloud Manager, the process is storage efficient and does not require a full copy of your data, with the easy ability to restore volumes of any size.

Data Mobility with SnapMirror®

You can use SnapMirror replication for replicating data across different cloud platforms. After the initial snapshot, it uses incremental replication to transfer the data, ensuring storage economy. This service offers you data mobility, should you decide to migrate your applications or data between any of the connected cloud platforms. Cloud Manager can be used to centrally manage the process across different clouds, a feature that is not available in most of the native tools

Consistent Data Security

Customers can use NetApp encryption solutions to provide an additional layer of protection for Cloud Volumes ONTAP volumes along with cloud native encryption solutions. It can be integrated with an external key manager and enable uniformity of the process. Cloud Volumes ONTAP also provides the first line of defense against using NetApp Cloud WORM (Write Once Read Many) and Snaplock® capability.

IAC Automation and Orchestration

The management activities done from the Cloud Manager interface can be automated through different options including REST API calls, Terraform provider for Cloud Manager, and Ansible. This provides you flexibility to programmatically interface with your storage volumes across cloud platforms using the same processes and tools and also integrate it with your existing DevOps tools for faster provisioning, decommissioning, and management of your storage infrastructure irrespective of where the volumes are hosted.

Another option to consider for quick provisioning of environments for dev/test is FlexClone®, which creates instant and storage-efficient writable copies of your Cloud Volumes ONTAP volumes without impacting the source performance.

Conclusion

Managing your data estate across multiple cloud environments can be a very complex task. Cloud Volumes ONTAP offers a centralized data management solution as a unique value proposition to address your multicloud challenges in data management.

Learn more about How Cloud Volumes ONTAP can Help to Address the Multicloud Storage Challenges

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Yifat Perry, Product Marketing Lead

Product Marketing Lead

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