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Multicloud storage merges the services of multiple cloud storage vendors into one architecture. You can combine native public cloud services, Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and marketplace images or 3rd party cloud solutions into one multicloud environment. Multicloud storage can increase data protection and flexibility, through the distribution of data across multiple, isolated locations, and reduces the risk of vendor lock-in.
In this post, we’ll review the benefits and challenges of multicloud storage, and explain how multicloud storage works. We’ll also show typical multicloud storage applications, and explain the core requirements for multicloud storage. Finally, we’ll show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help to simplify multicloud storage architecture management, and reduce costs.
In this article, you will learn:
- What is multicloud storage?
- How multicloud storage works
- Multicloud storage use cases
- Core requirements for multicloud storage
- How Cloud Volumes ONTAP Supports multicloud Storage Management
What Is Multicloud Storage?
Multicloud storage is the use of multiple cloud storage services, which may either be hosted in the public cloud, in a private cloud, or as standalone on-premise resources with cloud-like capabilities. It is part of a multicloud architecture, which combines services and resources from multiple cloud providers and/or private cloud infrastructure.
Your included storage services can be:
- Native public cloud services—provided directly by cloud providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Typically include support for block, object, file, and database storage.
- Supplier-integrated services—such as MSPs, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and cloud service resellers. These vendors offer services which are pre-integrated with your cloud provider. Services often provide extra features and performance improvements compared to native services. Examples of vendors include Rackspace and Cloudreach.
- Marketplace services—third-party services offered through your cloud providers marketplace. These services are typically applications or pre-built virtual machine images you can deploy.
Multicloud Storage Benefits
There are several benefits to using multicloud storage, depending on your configurations. The most common include:
- Increased data protection—since applications and data are separated across services, breach of one service only affects a limited amount of data. This enables you to easily isolate attacks and to reliably store data backups in remote locations.
- Increased flexibility—using storage services from multiple vendors enables you to avoid vendor lock-in and increase data durability through duplication. Combining services also provides you greater access to specialized, proprietary services.
- Cost optimization—the ability to piecemeal storage services enables you to customize cost and performance options according to your needs. Multicloud environments enable you to take advantage of the best possible prices and pricing structures for each service.
Multicloud Storage Challenges
While multicloud storage can provide a host of benefits, it can be challenging to manage, protect, and deploy storage in a unified way. Some common challenges include:
- Multiple APIs—cloud services communicate via APIs. While there is some standardization with RESTful APIs, different providers create different API structures. This can include different rule structures or different languages. These differences require application customizations to enable communication across services.
- Compatibility issues—to integrate smoothly into a single environment, storage services need to be compatible across clouds. This means services need to accommodate the same data structures and allow integration with the same tools.
- Complex management—visibility across cloud services and environments can be difficult to ensure. It requires centralized monitoring and federation of services, such as identity and access controls. Without centralization, services are likely to have configuration differences or errors, and increased vulnerability.
How Multicloud Storage Works
Multicloud storage is typically managed with multicloud controllers. These controllers combine all your resources under a common namespace and API. This centralizes management and enables you to monitor and manage services from a single dashboard. Multicloud controllers often use a combination of cluster, security, and storage manager agents. There are also dedicated multicloud Kubernetes services, like Google Anthos.
By combining services in a single framework, multicloud controllers enable you to:
- Minimize expenses by using storage services only when needed. You can customize how data is moved across your services, ensuring that it remains accessible and optimized.
- Maintain control over your data with centralized monitoring and logging. This enables you to reduce the risks of data loss or theft since you know exactly where data is and where to target security measures.
Multicloud Storage Use Cases
There are a variety of use cases for multicloud storage, depending on your environments, needs, and budget. Below are two common examples use cases.
Clustering Mission-Critical Databases in the Cloud
You can use multicloud storage services to create functional database clusters in the cloud. In single-vendor environments, this is typically not possible since databases are stored in block storage. Block storage is often only accessible to a single compute instance, limiting resiliency.
With multicloud storage, you can duplicate databases across multiple clouds. This can be important if one cloud provides better support in a specific geographical location, if specific workloads are better served by a different cloud provider, or if there are cost concerns at peak load times.
It also improves high availability, by shielding mission critical databases from downtime affecting entire data centers or regions at a cloud provider, which has happened to all major providers at one time or another.
Easing Disaster Recovery
By distributing data and applications across service providers you can limit the effects of service outages and disasters. In the same way that distributing your data across multiple regions within a cloud provider offers redundancy, so does distributing across vendors. If you experience vendor-specific issues, such as service attacks or local disasters, you can simply move workloads to your other providers.
You can also eliminate the need to host a separate disaster recovery data center. Since your data is already duplicated across services you can simply store backups from one provider with another. This duplication enables you to quickly recover configurations when needed.
Core Requirements for Multicloud Storage
To ensure that your multicloud storage services operate smoothly, your environment must meet certain requirements. The following features should be considered.
Any storage service you consider should provide enterprise-grade features, including:
- Durability—the failure rate of the typical services you use should be less than 0.2%.
- Availability—your services’ SLAs should ensure 99.95% or better. You should also verify what events are covered or excluded.
- Performance—services should be low-latency and support tens of thousands of IOPS.
Before adopting any service, you need to determine how easy it will be to move data between services or providers. This includes understanding if data needs to be reformatted or schemed or if applications need to be refactored or rearchitected. Look for services that enable you to transfer data freely and support the use of containers for greater mobility.
When using services from multiple providers, visibility is key to ensuring smooth and secure operations. You need to choose services that can integrate with your centralized monitoring and orchestration solution. This includes the ability to track access and movement, and log service and data events. It should also include access to analytics to help you ensure that your services are optimized and performing as expected.
How Cloud Volumes ONTAP Supports Multicloud Storage Management
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.
In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides Cloud Manager, a UI and API that supports hybrid & multicloud architectures. Cloud Manager enables you to implement a rules-based data management front-end from a centralized interface. It provides a single pane for easy control of workflow orchestration, automation, user and role management, and access control.
Cloud Manager comes with SnapMirror®, a feature that enables you to easily replicate data across multiple providers. This ensures cost-effective storage and enhances data mobility. You can also use SnapMirror® to lift and shift on-premises NetApp systems to the cloud, creating a hybrid architecture.
Learn More About Multicloud Storage
Multicloud storage has tremendous potential for the enterprise but is fraught with challenges. It can be complex to integrate different cloud services from different vendors, on-premise systems need to be aligned with cloud offerings, and in many cases, massive amounts of data need to be synchronized between multiple clouds. Our additional articles below can help you learn more about how to evaluate, implement, and optimize your multicloud storage investment.
A multicloud deployment needs to address the unique needs of three key layers: operations, infrastructure, and applications. You should align all of these layers with the goals of the organization’s multicloud strategy to avoid post-deployment conflicts.
This post reviews the main considerations and important aspects of a multicloud deployment plan.
Hybrid cloud architectures enable organizations to benefit from cloud economics and scalability without compromising data sovereignty. A multicloud architecture also brings many benefits to the enterprise cloud like, from avoiding vendor lock-in to accommodating mergers and acquisitions and optimizing price/performance.
This post reviews the use cases, and challenges of hybrid cloud management.
Read more: One Cloud Out of Many: Why Enterprises Are Turning to Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Architectures
Google Hybrid Cloud
This blog starts with a brief introduction to Google Cloud Anthos and hybrid cloud, with focus on the storage part of Anthos, and an explanation on how it works, challenges and limitations.
The blog will then explain why Anthos and Cloud Volumes ONTAP are a great match together, including the benefits and some example scenarios and use cases.
Multicloud Kubernetes: Centralizing Multicloud Management
Multicloud is a cloud architecture consisting of more than one cloud vendor in combination with on-premise or private cloud resources. Organizations prefer a multicloud deployment because it enables them to reduce costs, avoid vendor lock-in, and enjoy the advantages of different cloud providers.
Multicloud architectures are complex and difficult to manage and monitor. Kubernetes multicloud enables organizations to centralize multicloud management, making it practical and efficient.
This post reviews the main use cases and best practices of multicloud Kubernetes.
Multicloud Architecture: Partitioned, Cloud Burst and DR
More and more companies are choosing a multicloud approach, combining multiple clouds to get the most out of their cloud architecture. Choosing the right multicloud architecture can be central in achieving your business objectives, improving scalability, high availability and cost-efficiency.
This post introduces different multicloud patterns, including partitioned multicloud, cloud bursting multicloud and business continuity multilcloud, and looks at their different advantages. In addition, it explains how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can add multicloud storage to any of these architectures.
Hybrid Deployment on Google Cloud: Meet Google Anthos
Enterprises looking to modernize their IT infrastructure often run into many problems. These include legacy systems, regulations that require that data be stored in-house, and the complexity of hybrid and multicloud architectures. Google Anthos is a service that simplifies many of these challenges.
This post examines Google Anthos, explaining how it works in hybrid and multicloud architectures, how to convert traditional VMs to containers, and which use cases work best with the Google service. The article also looks at the added value of combining Anthos with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
What is Block Storage: Pros, Cons, and Comparisons
Block storage enables you to store data in volumes. These volumes act like separate and configurable hard drives. There are many pros to using this type of storage. This article explains the main benefits and disadvantages, and explains the differences between block storage, object storage, and file storage.
Azure Arc: Hybrid and Multicloud Deployment on Azure
Multicloud and hybrid cloud deployments are becoming the norm for many enterprise businesses, as a single-cloud approach may not be the right fit for their IT strategies. But the advantages that come with such multicloud deployments come with an added level of complexity, especially when it comes to multicloud storage management.
To help customers meet this rising new use case, the major cloud providers have begun to roll out workload management services that can help users orchestrate operations across numerous environments, including different clouds. Azure Arc is the new Microsoft cloud service to fill in this space.
This article will take an in-depth look at Azure Arc, examining its capabilities, the benefits it has for hybrid and multicloud management, and some of the major use cases for the technology.
Meet Amazon EKS & ECS Anywhere: The New AWS Hybrid and Multicloud Challengers
Multicloud usage is growing, and with its two new Anywhere offerings—Amazon EKS Anywhere and ECS Anywhere—AWS is starting to respond.
ECS Anywhere now makes it possible for AWS users to deploy ECS tasks outside of AWS environments. EKS Anywhere lets users deploy Kubernetes clusters created by virtual machines or physical machines outside of AWS.
Typical Mistakes and Misconceptions Business Leaders Have About Hybrid and Multicloud
The use of hybrid and multicloud strategy is gaining traction among organizations, but does that mean everyone understands all of the implications about these models, especially at the C-level?
This post takes a look at the biggest mistakes and misconceptions business leaders (and some engineers) have about using hybrid and multicloud deployments, and will introduce you to the best use cases for using multiple environments in a single system
5 Multicloud Challenges in Data Management (and What You Can Do About Them)
With more and more organizations using the services of more than one cloud provider, a whole new set of data management challenges have begun to present themselves. Issues surrounding data visibility, data protection, data mobility, security, and automation are at the heart of this increasingly popular deployment model.
In this post we look at five of these challenges and how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you solve them.
See Our Additional Guides on Key Cloud Storage Topics
We have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of cloud storage.
File shares support some of the most important workloads that enterprise businesses rely on, and the resources of the public cloud have created interesting new possibilities. Every major public cloud provider now offers its own cloud file sharing service, each with its own target workloads and considerations. But not every enterprise will find what they’re looking for in a fully managed, all-cloud service.
See top articles in our cloud file sharing guide:
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- Cloud File Sharing Services: Open-Source Solutions
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This guide explains what AWS database support is available, what database services are available, and how you can migrate your databases to AWS.
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See top articles in our AWS snapshots guide:
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- Understanding AWS Snapshot Pricing: Data Transfer and Storage Costs
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See top articles in our Azure database guide:
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Azure provides a wide variety of services to its users to help you manage your cloud data and services reliably. Azure Backup is one such service that can help provide data loss protection and peace of mind.
This guide explains what Azure Backup is and how to use it to backup your Azure data.
See top articles in our Azure Backup guide:
- Storage Options for Lower Azure Storage Costs and Azure Backup Costs
- The 5 Enterprise-Grade Azure Features You Need to Know About: Azure Backup, Security, and More
- Using Azure Backup Server to Backup Workloads and Files to Azure
Azure File Storage
Storing file data in Azure is simple through Azure File Storage service. This service enables you to store files across cloud and on-premises resources, enabling you to flexibly and securely share data and workflows.
This guide explains what Azure File Storage is, common use cases for Files, management concepts and components of the service, how data is accessed and the architecture of the service, and some best practices for securing your data.
See top articles in our Azure file storage guide:
Azure Files is one of several storage services available to users in Azure. It is a service designed to replicate file shares like those commonly used on premises. With this service, you can smoothly transition your files to the cloud and allow file sharing across your teams.
This guide explains what Azure Files is, how it complements other storage services, pricing and use cases for Files, and pros and cons you should be aware of.
See top articles in our Azure Files guide:
- Azure NetApp Files Register
- SMB File Sharing
- NFS and SMB - A Simple File Service Environment in Azure.
Google Cloud offers a variety of storage options for you to choose from. These services form the base of many other services in the cloud and understanding what your options are can help you manage your cloud more efficiently.
This guide explains what Google Cloud Storage options exist and their common uses.
See top articles in our Google Cloud storage guide:
- Cloud File Sharing Services: Google Cloud Filestore
- Google Cloud Storage Encryption: Key Management in Google Cloud
- Google Cloud Storage Pricing: Get the Best Bang for Your Buckets
Google Cloud’s specialty is flexibility and integration of services and this extends to its database services. In Google Cloud you have a wide variety of database deployments, models, and support to choose from.
This guide explains your options for deploying databases in the cloud, what Google Cloud database services are available, and how to choose the right service for you.
See top articles in our Google Cloud database guide:
- Google Cloud SQL: MySQL, Postgres and MS SQL on Google Cloud
- SQL Server on Google Cloud: Managed Service Vs. Managed Storage
- Google Cloud SQL Pricing, Quotas, and Limits: A Cheatsheet for Cost Optimization
Software developers and DevOps engineers are packaging applications into lightweight units called containers. Kubernetes helps manage and scale containers across clusters of physical machines.
In this environment, Kubernetes storage becomes a significant challenge. By default, containers are ephemeral, meaning that any transient data on the container is lost when it shuts down. However, Kubernetes provides several options for persistent storage.
See top articles in our Kubernetes guide: