The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to respond quickly and effectively to unforeseen disruptions and changing work patterns. To answer this need, many companies have turned to a cloud migration strategy, which has proven to be particularly effective in solving these challenges.
Once the decision to move to the cloud has been made, the question then becomes which workloads will have the greatest impact on the company if migrated. To help with this process, Gartner has identified seven workloads that, if moved to the cloud, can cut storage costs and boost company resilience in times of disruption.
In this blog post we explore these seven cloud workloads and demonstrate how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help fulfil these workloads’ requirements, enhance their performance, and lower expenses.
How The Cloud Can Help in Times of Disruption
The landscape has changed dramatically since the COVID-19 outbreak: the majority of companies have implemented working from home practices, organizations have struggled to keep their business-IT services available to both external and internal users, and using in-house data centers remotely took a toll on performance. In addition, with the fragile economic state, the pressure to minimize IT expenses has never been higher. These difficulties led to a spike in demand for public cloud services.
There are several reasons why the cloud is the ideal choice for solving these organizational challenges. Firstly, cloud performance isn’t dependent on location and is built for remote access. Secondly, when relying on a public cloud provider, data center maintenance is outsourced, and companies can benefit from built-in and reliable capabilities such as high availability, scalability, and secure infrastructure, all of which are crucial for businesses in times of uncertainty. Finally, cloud providers operate under a flexible pay-as-you-go model, which can significantly reduce IT costs.
In short, these advantages address three top organizational imperatives:
- Preserve cash and cut IT expenses immediately.
- Support employees who have been suddenly forced to stay at home and work remotely.
- Ensure business-IT services remain viable and accessible to both customers and employees.
That said, the cloud is only useful if you know how to make the best use of it. For this you need to know which cloud workloads to focus on, and how to use them optimally.
7 Workloads to Move to the Cloud and Optimize with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
As mentioned above, Gartner’s recently published research note lists seven key workloads that it recommends enterprises prioritize for cloud migration given the current work disruptions.
In this section we’ll look at each of the workloads Gartner recommended, and show how Cloud Volumes ONTAP offers a more efficient and cost-effective way to migrate and manage them in the cloud.
1. Mobile Applications
Employees working remotely depend on applications and mobile devices to access services, applications and data. According to Gartner, the cloud’s adaptive operating model is well suited to handle the fluctuations in the demand for mobile services, making it an optimal backend environment for supporting such mobile solutions.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP is designed to optimize enterprise applications and the databases that support them in the cloud environment, and mobile applications are no different. Its suite of features boosts application performance, providing high availability, enterprise-grade cloud workload protection and scalability while significantly lowering cloud storage footprint and costs. NetApp Cloud Manager provides companies with a unified management and automation platform for data management across all application and mobile workloads.
In one case study, a multinational networking and internet of things (IoT) products company moved thousands of workloads to AWS, but experienced performance, stability and cost issues which led to delays in application delivery and missed business milestones. These issues were eliminated when the company started using Cloud Volumes ONTAP, leveraging the enterprise-ready, highly available cloud storage solution.
Some of the earliest enterprise applications to migrate to the cloud were collaboration solutions such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Collaboration solutions are ideal candidates for moving to the cloud: they extend what can be achieved via remote access and increase resilience. In addition, tools for collaboration in the cloud can be standardized and applied to large organizations.
There are many challenges when sharing and collaborating over data in the cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP addresses these challenges offering advanced file sharing capabilities. It offers dual protocol support for SMB/CIFS and NFS workloads, while minimizing file service costs, increasing automation and ensuring high availability. In addition, NetApp’s cloud block storage allows disks to be shared consistently across hybrid cloud environments.
NetApp’s intelligent Global File Cache consolidates unstructured data in the cloud into one cohesive global storage pool which can be worked on simultaneously from any location.
Many companies have successfully leveraged Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s file sharing capabilities. In one case study, a global healthcare company used Cloud Volumes ONTAP to migrate to the cloud under a tight schedule and set up resilient and efficient NFS and CIFS services on AWS. In another case study, Monash University, Australia’s largest educational institution, used Cloud Volumes ONTAP to manage its file storage on AWS. This enabled easier data collaboration for students and researchers, while allowing Monash to reduce storage footprint by 25% and scale storage capacity up or down as needed.
3. VDI: Virtual Desktops
IT administrators use virtual desktops to separate physical desktops from desktop environments and applications used by individual employees. Virtual desktop infrastructure provides an excellent solution for sharing company resources, and is essential in maintaining employee productivity in working-from-home scenarios. While this was typically provided as a data center service, cloud-based desktop virtualization is becoming more and more widespread since it provides enhanced stability and scalability.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP allows users to run VDI technology, unifying dispersed workloads reliably and cost-efficiently and allowing employees to seamlessly access and utilize company resources from their personal devices.
A leading CRM company used Cloud Volumes ONTAP to successfully migrate its VDI workloads and could tweak instance type to perfectly fit its VDI operations. In another case, a US-based company with multiple global online travel brands, used Cloud Volumes ONTAP to provide the highly available shared storage solution for its 1000+ VDI users.
4. Cloud Scalability
The cloud is built for scaling. It not only provides infrastructure such as virtual machines and container management systems to support additional resources, but also delivers mechanisms to easily scale out applications, including auto-scaling functionality. This is why scale-out applications are ideally suited to be migrated to the cloud. Many applications have varying usage patterns and can significantly benefit from the flexibility in the cloud of scaling up and down quickly as needed.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP enables users to meet their scalability and agility requirements, dynamically resizing volumes, automatically moving data between storage tiers, mirroring data with advanced data replication tools, and more. In addition, Cloud Volumes ONTAP integration with Kubernetes storage allows users to dynamically provision persistent storage and scale containers and containerized applications and workloads.
A US business and financial software company whose software tools process 40% of the United States taxes and 25% of its GDP, began using Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA to centrally manage thousands of AWS accounts and VPCs. This was a massive migration: PBs of data were moved to Cloud Volumes ONTAP, spanning over 3000 AWS accounts and 3400 VPCs across two regions, and operating on Linux, Windows, and a large Hadoop environment. Besides ensuring high availability RPO =0 and RTO < 60, the solution allows the company to leverage SnapMirror® replication capabilities and storage efficiency features to flexibly scale their environment at minimal costs.
5. Disaster Recovery
When employees began working from home due to COVID-19, IT usage patterns altered, putting stress on existing IT systems and emphasizing the need for better disaster recovery. IT departments started using disaster recovery in the cloud to ensure services continued to be available even during failures and outages. The cloud is ideally suited for disaster recovery requirements, with its pay-per-use model and ability to support unexpected failover scenarios.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP is designed to support DR strategies and enhance data protection and cloud workload security, providing cloud users with the means to easily and quickly create up-to-date secondary copies of ONTAP data in the cloud and automate the failover and failback process in DR scenarios.
Mellanox, a multinational supplier of computer networking products, successfully used Cloud Volumes ONTAP to implement a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery strategy and tier 90% of its disaster recovery data to lower-cost Azure Blob storage.
In another case, D2L, a global e-learning platform, wanted to ensure its online courses and services were provided continuously, meeting their students’ stringent demands. In addition to reducing its space savings by 60%, Cloud Volumes ONTAP disaster recovery capabilities allowed the company to migrate its workloads to the cloud without fear of data loss. Using NetApp snapshot copies, D2L could quickly and reliably recover data to a particular point in time without having to maintain an expensive secondary site. These customer success stories are just two examples out of many disaster recovery success stories.
6. Business Continuity
88% of respondents in a recent Gartner survey reported experiencing some form of disruption to their business operations. This staggering statistic explains why business continuity has become a top priority in the last few months.
The cloud is structured with built-in redundancy, making it a more resilient environment than most typical private data centers. Companies can ensure business continuity of their mission-critical applications by leveraging the cloud’s redundant infrastructure.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP ensures business continuity in the cloud, protecting enterprise workloads against failures with the Cloud Volumes ONTAP High Availability configuration which mirrors data synchronously between two nodes to meet stringent performance requirements of RPO=0 and RTO<60.
The publishing software company EidosMedia looked for a way to reliably provide its customers with continuous access to its next-generation digital publishing platform. Since the platform serves media giants and financial institutions such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and The Washington Post, it needed to be available 24/7 and downtime was not an option. By using Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s high availability storage, EidosMedia can now guarantee nonstop operations. In addition to securing business continuity, EidosMedia is also able to spin up dev/test and production environments within minutes and easily transfer data wherever needed.
Videoconferencing technology is essential to remote work, and not surprisingly, the demand for it has doubled and even tripled within weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak. The cloud is an ideal environment for videoconferencing solutions, with its fluctuating usage patterns and its requirement for significant network bandwidth.
The Cloud Volumes ONTAP scaling and high availability capabilities mentioned above are ideally suited to support videoconferencing workloads. These kinds of applications rely on the constant uptime and scalability that Cloud Volumes ONTAP can provide.
A Final Note
In the recent pandemic, the advantages of moving to the cloud have never been more clearly spelled out. As Gartner has pointed out, there are certain workloads whose migration to the cloud is especially beneficial. Once migrated to the cloud, this positive impact can be taken one step further by optimizing these cloud workloads with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.