How Cloud Storage Helps with Speed, Data Portability, and Security Too
When it comes to provisioning the storage and computing resources their applications need, today’s developers now have the luxury of choice between on-premises infrastructure and the public cloud. Unfortunately, the public cloud is proving to be just that – a luxury. Public cloud costs continue to skyrocket, but fast-moving developers still go to this option first as they build, test, and deploy applications. This has today’s best and brightest IT leaders scratching their heads and searching for answers on how to reverse this trend and reduce risks, inefficiencies, and cloud costs associated with runaway cloud storage usage.
While stopping cloud sprawl is a top priority, getting development teams onboard with sanctioned IT infrastructure has proven difficult. The lightning-speed provisioning and pay-as-you-grow flexibility of the public cloud is just too easy from an operational perspective. To change the minds of today’s cloud-first development teams, IT operations pros must first think differently themselves, and hybrid cloud storage is helping them do just that.
The first question we typically get when we talk to IT leaders about leading with hybrid cloud storage is “Why start with storage, when computing represents the majority of our cloud costs?” Fair question. The reason we like to look at storage first is that it’s a valuable enough area to catch the attention of development teams – but it doesn’t require as big of a mental leap as computing. That’s become sacred ground to many, so before we tackle it, let’s show them some quick wins in the storage realm.
Hybrid Cloud Storage Defined
Before we explore the key challenges we can solve with hybrid cloud storage, it’s probably a good idea to get aligned on how we define this term. Simply put, hybrid cloud storage means that we’re using a combination of on-premises storage and cloud storage to host data. The key, though, is that the two must be able to be managed as a common storage pool to meet our definition – distinct silos don’t count.
As we’ll explore below, unified management is the source of several benefits that hybrid cloud storage enables for developers. These benefits include faster provisioning speeds, better data portability, and heightened security.
Satisfy Their Need for Speed
In many cases, development teams assume that IT is too slow when it comes to getting them the infrastructure resources they need. And let’s face it, if the process goes something like this: purchase new storage, wait for it to arrive, rack it, stack it, configure it, and provision it for a given application – months may have passed from the initial request until development has what they need. Let’s change that.
Hybrid cloud storage allows IT to give developers the same provisioning speed they’ve grown to love about the cloud because it uses just that- the cloud. When a new storage request comes in, IT can immediately provision space in the cloud, allowing development to get up and running right away without going through that whole procurement process. Because the cloud storage IT provides is managed via the same pane of glass as on-premises storage, application data can be moved into the data center once its capacity, performance, or security requirements reach a certain threshold. The best news here is that the data remains under IT’s control and governance no matter where it lives.
By increasing the speed of storage provisioning, IT leaders can prove that they can, in fact, keep up with the public cloud. In return, they just might find development teams to be more likely to begin their application development process with a call to IT rather than a swipe of a credit card. In addition to reducing raw cloud costs, this also gives IT a means of managing application data more efficiently, assigning high value data and high-performance applications to fast, expensive storage, while tiering down cold data and less intensive applications.
Show Them the Value of Data Portability
Here’s a situation we see all too often: developers write an application that points to a specific on-premises storage device, only to find out that IT needs to move the data somewhere else. This can be the result of a capacity issue, a hardware failure, or for cost reasons. No matter the cause, when this happens the application code often needs to be re-written to accommodate the change. This can consume several man hours, take application creators out of their rhythm, and leave them skeptical about IT’s ability to help their efforts.
Again, hybrid cloud storage can help. In a hybrid environment, developers can leverage powerful APIs into various physical or cloud-based storage volumes. No matter where the data physically lives, the API ensures that the application can find it – without re-coding. This is nothing new in the public cloud, but on-premises infrastructure hasn’t always provided this level of API-based storage virtualization.
In a hybrid model, IT can even use data portability to improve an application’s performance by ensuring its data always lives on the best storage tier and location for the job- whether that’s in the data center or the cloud – all without requiring developers to change a thing. Finally, this level of portability makes it extremely fast and efficient to deliver large data sets temporarily to the cloud for processing. This can be extremely useful for organizations that rely heavily on analytics.
Get Them Onboard with Tighter Security
With reports of data theft, ransomware and other cyber threats on the rise, security is becoming a high priority for pretty much everyone who deals with critical or sensitive information. And developers are no exception. They spend a lot of time understanding user, device, and data security protocols, writing them into their applications and keeping them up to date. But one thing that’s not always evident to developers is that data isn’t always safe just because it’s under the care of a cloud provider they trust.
Read how you can benchmark your own public cloud environment’s security
Data breaches happen in the cloud, whether it’s because of a lack of pervasive encryption, compromised credentials, out-of-date software, or the increased threat surface inherent in shared systems. That’s why it’s important to educate developers on the risks of unsanctioned public cloud usage. But with hybrid cloud storage, you can take things a step further and demonstrate new levels of cloud security and compliance that aren’t possible with the public cloud.
A good place to begin is with cross-cloud policy management. This creates a cohesive security policy across your entire on-premises and cloud-based storage platforms that includes user authentication functions and intrusion detection/prevention signatures. By synchronizing these security functions across the entire storage environment, IT can significantly reduce the manual, labor intensive process of instituting policy, while making the entire storage environment a more secure place. To prove it to development teams, IT can produce granular and trend-based reports that show thwarted breaches across cloud-based and on-premises storage.
We can also prove out tighter security if we do a better job of encrypting data, whether it’s at rest, in motion, or in use. By establishing, enforcing, and monitoring encryption policies at each of these stages, IT can better protect the data during its entire lifecycle. To do this, hybrid cloud storage applies a single encryption scheme to stored data – whether it’s in the cloud or on premises. It also extends encryption to data in motion as it moves between the storage environment. Most importantly, a hybrid cloud storage model enables IT to own, control, and manage the encryption keys for sensitive data to ensure compliance.
Bringing it all Together
In the broad fight against the costs, inefficiencies, and risks that come with skyrocketing public cloud consumption, choosing an entry point is a critical first step. By beginning with storage, specifically hybrid cloud storage, IT can demonstrate immediate value to developers with speed, portability, and security that surpass what’s capable in the public cloud alone. In the process, IT can begin rebuilding development’s confidence in managed infrastructure, providing a foothold for the next step in the journey – cloud-based computing.