Richard Agnew / special to Emirates Business
Hybrid cloud is set to be one of the biggest, most valuable technology opportunities for enterprises in UAE in 2017 and looking ahead over the next few years. To take advantage of this opportunity enterprises must apply the same principles they utilise in maintaining multiple data centres to data storage in the cloud â€“ whereby a single cloud will no longer suffice. The hybrid cloud trend has been confirmed by leading analyst firms, with IDC predicting organisations will require a mainly cloud-based IT environment by 2019 and 451 Research claiming that public storage spend will double in the next two years as demand for on-premise storage declines.
MAJOR ENTERPRISES GOING HYBRID
Predictions of hybrid cloudâ€™s promise have seen the worldâ€™s largest technology organisations begin to lay major plans for a hybrid future. For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Microsoft recently created an innovation centre in Seattle that will speed up hybrid cloud adoption and help customers test hybrid solutions and use cases, such as HPE / Azure Stack environments.
AWS and VMware have also partnered on a hybrid cloud offering that Amazon claims will allow customers to use VMwareâ€™s virtualisation and management software to deploy and manage workloads across all on-premises and AWS Cloud environments. Another good example is CERN, the European organisation for nuclear research, launching a hybrid cloud scheme to support its high-performance data-intensive research. The project will be powered by 7,000 servers and 190,000 cores and is being partly funded by the European Commission.
With disruptive leaders across all industries now increasingly embracing the public, hybrid and multi-cloud space, those that still arenâ€™t will soon find themselves left behind. Hybrid is gaining in popularity as it offers not only the flexibility and data deployment benefits of public cloud, but also provides the security assurance of on-premises, private cloud â€“ effectively giving businesses the best of both worlds. This means organisations can now store their most important or sensitive data on the private cloud, while storing other resources on public networks.
But before jumping head first into hybrid cloud, enterprises must consider the reasons for doing so. Itâ€™s vital to map out the implications of the move, the types of workloads it will be used for and the business outcomes that can be achieved before embarking on the hybrid journey.
The move towards hybrid cloud makes the integrity of data and services a major priority for enterprises. It will therefore be important to get the right mix of on-premise and various as-a-service offerings, to ensure data is always available and synchronised across multiple platforms.
GUARANTEE DATA AVAILABILITY
The rising demand for cloud is ultimately being fuelled by businesses wanting to embrace the digital transformation process. The modern enterprise needs to be founded on key technologies provided by virtualisation, modern storage systems and cloud technologies to be fully transformative. This puts strain on the availability of data and information, as it involves updating legacy systems and investing time and money. It is therefore critical that availability is put at the forefront of any digital transformation or hybrid cloud strategy. This will ensure that when applications and workloads are being moved across various infrastructures thereâ€™s a backup and disaster recovery plan in place to guarantee that downtime is not an issue.
However, our research finds that the majority off businesses are struggling to achieve this. The Veeam 2016 Availability Report found that, despite investing in their data centres, 82% of businesses admit suffering an availability gap between how fast they can recover applications and how fast they need applications to be recovered. They are therefore unable to meet end-usersâ€™ requirements for an always-on business. The growth in data is already high but itâ€™s going to reach exponential levels that will put even greater strain on legacy IT systems. This means that the need for hybrid cloud approach is more important than ever to deliver on customersâ€™ increasingly demanding expectations.
TIME TO PUT HYBRID INTO ACTION
While thereâ€™s plenty of talk about the hybrid opportunity, there still arenâ€™t enough enterprises tapping into the lower cost and flexibility benefits of the public cloud. There remains an assumption that data must be kept on-premise due to perceived security issues but, as attitudes change, enterprises must look to go beyond simple application testing in the public cloud environment. Hybrid cloud needs to be used in a way that benefits the individual organisation, and its workloads. For example, itâ€™s particularly beneficial to a university as it can choose to move some workloads to the public cloud at particularly busy times during the year, such as A-Level results day and clearing when they have to deal with a vast influx of data that its on-premise setup may not be able to handle.
It is no longer acceptable for downtime to affect any service and, while the next few years will bring plenty of uncertainties, itâ€™s guaranteed that the importance of data availability â€” anywhere, anytime â€” will only increase. Enterprises must have a clear cloud strategy in place before they fully invest in cloud infrastructure. At the core of this is ensuring data and information is available at all times.
Richard Agnew is VP North West EMEA at Veeam, working towards ensuring that organisations in the region can benefit from the Always-On Business.