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Multicloud Storage: Everything You Need to Know

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?

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.

Enterprise-Grade Functionality

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.

Mobility

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.

Visibility

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.

Multicloud Deployment

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.

Read more: Multicloud Deployment: Creating a Plan with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Multicloud Architecture

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.

Read more: Google Hybrid Cloud: Using Google Cloud Anthos with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

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.  

Read more: Multicloud Architecture: Partitioned, Cloud Burst and DR

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.  

Read more: Hybrid Deployment on Google Cloud: Meet Google Anthos

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