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Hybrid Cloud Management: Relieving the Operational Burden of Hybrid Infrastructure

Hybrid cloud architectures can have tremendous benefits for organizations, including improved cost management, IT efficiencies at large scale, and improved analytics and visibility. However, hybrid infrastructures are often fragmented, with on-premise and cloud resources managed separately, eroding many of the benefits of the hybrid vision.

In this post, we’ll discuss how Hybrid Cloud Management (HCM) technology can provide a unified control point for hybrid infrastructure, relieving the operational burden of hybrid cloud systems. We’ll also show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help seamlessly manage hybrid storage, moving and synchronizing data across on-premise and public cloud systems.

In this article, you will learn:

What Is Hybrid Cloud Management?

Hybrid Cloud Management (HCM) is a solution for managing an organization’s cloud and on-premises environments, and interfaces. It includes both processes and platforms that enable you to define how hybrid environments are managed.

Hybrid cloud management solutions are typically offered by cloud providers themselves or via third-party software. This software integrates your various infrastructures and interfaces into a single management platform from which administrators can monitor and configure all assets across multiple infrastructure types.

Hybrid Cloud Management Benefits and Challenges

If you are thinking about adopting a hybrid cloud management solution, there are several benefits and challenges to keep in mind.

HCM Capabilities

HCM provides a single, centralized point of control for your IT environment. This enables you to more efficiently monitor and control your infrastructure resources regardless of where they are located. In addition, HCM can provide the following benefits.

Cost management
Visibility into cloud costs is a major concern for most organizations. Cloud billing is often confusing, with hidden charges and inadequate cost breakdowns which can result in unexpected bills. HCM solutions can help you better monitor and control these costs with a variety of visibility and reporting features.  

For example, many tools enable you to set budgets or policies that limit spending or alert when costs reach a certain threshold. These solutions can enable you to easily log the distribution of resources, monitor performance stats, and manage resource availability. HCM solutions also allow you to use pre-defined templates, designed for cost savings.  

Improved performance through analytics
HCM solutions provide visibility into your hybrid environments. This visibility can be leveraged to more easily evaluate performance and optimize resource distribution. Being able to access and correlate activity and configurations across your environments can also enable you to predict increasing resource demands and avoid outages. 

Increased IT efficiency
When teams are provided self-service access to hybrid environment controls, they can work more efficiently. This centralized access enables your IT teams to provision resources on-demand and to more easily integrate automation tasks and tooling.

Challenges for HCM

While HCM solutions can significantly ease the burdens of managing hybrid environments, these solutions are not perfect. Hybrid environments are still highly complex systems and every configuration is different. Below are some common challenges you may face when using HCM solutions.

Lack of standardization
There is not yet a standard for HCM services. Instead, each vendor offers a range of features and functions to meet the needs of a subset of customers. This means that when choosing a solution, you are less likely to find one that meets all of your needs or that is perfectly suited to your configurations. Unfortunately, this lack of standardization can lead to vendor lock-in, making it difficult to switch to a different HCM solution in the future.

Hybrid cloud security
Ideally, HCM solutions connect all of your hybrid cloud resources. However, to accomplish this, solutions must have full access to your systems and data. This can create a significant security risk as solutions become a gateway to all parts of your system. To minimize this risk, you need to evaluate any HCM vendors you’re considering. Assess what their security policies are and what measures you can use to limit unnecessary access.

Hybrid Cloud Management Best Practices

When implementing HCM solutions, there are a few best practices you should follow.

Account for fluctuations
For most organizations, workloads and traffic fluctuate. These fluctuations demand different resource allocation and may or may not be predictable. To ensure that your environment is functioning optimally, you need to account for these fluctuations and enable your resources to adapt accordingly.

Adapting to fluctuations requires configuring auto-scaling services and load-balancing features. You need to enable workloads to burst to the cloud as needed and ensure that resources scale down when no longer in use.

Prefer a multicloud strategy
Build an environment that uses a variety of cloud services from different cloud providers, matching service performance and cost to your needs. This will help you optimize cloud functionality and cost to your specific project, while avoiding vendor lock-in. Having an HCM solution that can manage multiple cloud services and vendors supports this goal.

Monitor user experience
When configuring your monitoring services, make sure to include the user’s point of view. What really matters is optimizing performance from the user’s perspective, whether by optimizing storage space or throughput.

To accomplish this, you need to incorporate tools that enable you to monitor user sessions, track request and response times, and measure Apdex scores. Set policies that alert you before a user experiences poor performance to ensure that you can make timely modifications.

Create a flexible network architecture
One of the greatest benefits of a hybrid system is its flexibility. You can extend this benefit to your hybrid cloud environment with a software-defined network (SDN). An SDN enables you to scale your on-premise network resources with your cloud deployments, ensuring smooth data flows and low-latency traffic.

Automate services
Within your HCM solution, you should embrace automation as much as possible. Automation helps further standardize processes and reduces the chance of misconfigurations.

When implementing automation, try to look for solutions that incorporate AI for predictive scaling and load-balancing. These features provide a smoother experience for your users and can more finely optimize resource use. You should also look for solutions that incorporate automated security that adapts to environmental changes. If you have auto-scaling without automated security policies, you are creating vulnerabilities each time a resource is made available.

Hybrid Cloud Storage Management with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides the NetApp Cloud Manager, a UI and APIs for management, automation and orchestration, supporting hybrid & multi-cloud architectures. Benefits of Cloud Manager include:

  • Cloud resource provisioning and management—provision storage resources irrespective of the target deployment environment.
  • No cloud lock-in—integrates with AWS, Azure and Google cloud, with unified visibility to data across these platforms, and ability to seamlessly migrate file shares and application data across clouds.
  • Single pane of glass—no need to login to multiple consoles to manage cloud storage systems.
  • Hybrid and multicloud support—supports Cloud Volumes ONTAP systems deployed in AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, and can also be used with on-premises NetApp devices.
  • Lift and shift on-premises data to the cloud—discover and replicate data from on-premises ONTAP cluster nodes to a Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
  • Easily create DR or secondary copies—just drag and drop the source system to a destination system and select the volumes you want to replicate.
  • Simple UI—all operations are wizard-guided or have simple drag-and-drop functionality.
  • Automation via APIs—rich set of REST APIs that enable custom automation and orchestration.

Learn More About Hybrid Cloud Management

There is much more to hybrid infrastructure than HCM systems: from hybrid cloud services provided by the big three cloud providers, to hybrid solutions from VMware, to dedicated devices that help synchronize on-premise and cloud storage. Learn more about setting up, managing and optimizing hybrid clouds in our series of articles below.

Hybrid Cloud Storage Management with NetApp Cloud Manager
In hybrid cloud environments, data management platforms must handle data no matter where it is stored, whether on-premises or in the cloud. NetApp Cloud Manager brings ONTAP capabilities to all your diverse environments.

In this article we explore NetApp Cloud Manager by introducing NetApp’s Data Fabric vision which aims to create a seamless data management experience across hybrid environments and then detailing how Cloud Manager turns this concept into a reality. This single-pane view of all storage systems, unifying multiple environments and bringing about a series of benefits such as end-to-end orchestration, easy data transfer, quick secondary copy creation, automation, and avoiding vendor lock-in.      

Read Hybrid Cloud Storage Management with NetApp Cloud Manager here.

Azure StorSimple EOL: Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Hybrid Cloud Management
For Azure users, hybrid cloud storage is made possible through Azure StorSimple. Many users rely on Microsoft’s solution for core operations such as data migration, replication and management. However, Microsoft announced that Azure StorSimple Virtual Array will be discontinued by December 2022.

In this article, we introduce Cloud Volumes ONTAP which provides an alternative solution for Azure hybrid architectures. The solution allows users to manage diverse data storage environments through single-pane visibility and brings about multiple major benefits. These include data protection and recovery, storage efficiencies, data tiering, and automatic DR failover and failback processes. Finally, for those who’d like to keep using Azure StorSimple for now, the article concludes with in-depth information on the subject. 

Read Azure StorSimple EOL: Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Hybrid Cloud Management here.

Set Up AWS Storage Gateway: Setting Up an Installation with Amazon EC2
AWS Storage Gateway is an Amazon storage service that enables on-premises deployments to benefit from AWS cloud services such as Amazon EBS and Amazon S3. The service has multiple features that ease management of hybrid architecture and lower storage costs. Some examples of these include file shares, data migration, and data tiering.  

In this article we introduce Amazon Storage Gateway and show you how to deploy it through the AWS Console. We include step by step guides that walk you through creating an NFS file share and installing an Amazon EC2 instance. Cloud Volumes ONTAP is another hybrid multicloud data management solution that supports not only AWS but also Azure and Google Cloud. 

Read Set Up AWS Storage Gateway: Setting Up an Installation with Amazon EC2 here.

VMware Cloud on AWS Vs. Cloud Volumes ONTAP
By using VMware Cloud on AWS, companies with large virtual platforms can seamlessly extend traditional workloads within vSphere-backed data centers to AWS. This gives enterprises advantages of the public cloud with minimal effort. 

This article focuses on VMware Cloud on AWS, looking at some of its common challenges, which Cloud Volumes ONTAP can be used to address. NetApp’s solution is equipped with numerous capabilities and features that will help overcome the storage limits and increased costs that might hinder VMware Cloud on AWS adoption.  

Read VMware Cloud on AWS Vs. Cloud Volumes ONTAP here.

Azure Hybrid Cloud: Azure in Your Local Data Center
Azure offers extensive hybrid cloud management functionality, which extends to your on-premise data center. Hybrid cloud functionalities include networking tools, migration tools, identity management, single sign on (SSO), and hybrid storage devices that can be deployed on-premises.

This post explains the Azure hybrid architecture and its main building blocks

Read more: Azure Hybrid Cloud: Azure in Your Local Data Center

VMC on AWS: How Fujitsu Saves Millions Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP
Fujitsu, one of the leading global technology enterprises, must support client workloads no matter where they are—in the cloud or on-premises. One of Fujitsu’s clients, a large financial corporation, had a considerable deployment on VMware Cloud on AWS whose scale of operation was driving up costs and architectural complexity. Fujitsu turned to NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP to solve these issues. 

This article details how Fujitsu achieved huge cost savings using Cloud Volumes ONTAP to deploy VMware Cloud on AWS. Using NetApp’s solution, Fujitsu offloaded hundreds of terabytes of storage from their client’s estate and required 30% fewer VMC on AWS hosts. In this way, Fujitsu could meet the same business requirement and save millions of dollars at the same time.   

Read VMC on AWS: How Fujitsu Saves Millions Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP here.

AWS Hybrid Cloud: Tools and Best Practices for Effective Implementation

Enterprise environments can include multiple infrastructures, including data centers, edge networks, on-premises, and cloud services. Hybrid cloud management enables organizations to support more varied and demanding workloads and take advantage of the scalability of the cloud.

This post reviews how to implement AWS hybrid cloud through the use of VMware Cloud on AWS, and AWS Outposts.

Read more: AWS Hybrid Cloud: Tools and Best Practices for Effective Implementation.

VMware Cloud Services: A New Option for Hybrid Cloud Management

With the introduction of VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware has created a host of hybrid cloud deployment options and services to help their customers gain use of the public and private cloud. This suite of hybrid-cloud products is tailored for different use cases and needs that span from storage usage both in the data center and the cloud to enhancing flexibility with Infrastructure-as-code deployment.

In this post we’ll introduce you to the VMware Cloud foundation, the vSAN storage component  it relies on, and how it works in deployments of VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Solutions on Azure, VMware and Google Cloud, and additional VMware Cloud Services such as VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts, VMware HCX, VMware Horizon Cloud, VMware vRealize Operations Cloud, and VMware vRealize Automation Cloud.

Read VMware Cloud Services: A New Option for Hybrid Cloud Management here.

Want to get started? Try out Cloud Volumes ONTAP today with a 30-day free trial.

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