Data Protection Is the Killer App for the Hybrid Cloud

For enterprises, data protection is a key reason for storing massive amounts of data in the cloud. Eventually all data needs to be backed up and archived and many IT organizations view the cloud as the most cost-effective alternative to local storage.

The biggest problem with that strategy is that most of the data stored locally is on systems that aren’t necessarily compatible with the interfaces used by the cloud service provider (CSP). In addition, each CSP typically has its own proprietary approach to software-defined storage (SDS) and software-defined networking (SDN).

To remove that friction, vendors such as VMware and Microsoft, have been making the case for hybrid clouds, because they have the same core software-defined infrastructure (SDI) on-premises and in the public cloud. In the case of VMware, the most prominent example of this is VMware on AWS, a cloud service that VMware launched in collaboration with Amazon Web Services. In the case of Microsoft, the Microsoft Azure Stack deployed locally employs the same stack of software and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform that Microsoft uses on the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

VMware has already signaled that various forms of data protection will be among the first services it delivers via VMware on AWS. At the same time, both Dell EMC, a sister company of VMware, and Veeam have announced their intent to make data protection software available on VMware for AWS that can be invoked as an extension of its on-premises software.

Drew Fredrick, vice president, IT Cloud & Infrastructure Services for Scripps Networks Interactive, said   that one of the primary reasons his organization is interested in VMware on AWS is that it enables usage of a public cloud without having to learn new tools.

When it comes to data protection, that approach to hybrid cloud computing is critical. Typically, most of the data that an organization wants to recover is used in the last 30 days. Storing that data locally makes sense because data can be recovered quickly without incurring any cloud egress costs. As data ages it gets accessed less frequently but companies need to archive it for compliance purposes. A public cloud allows IT organizations to archive data for less than pennies a gigabyte per month. The challenge many organizations have encountered is that they fail to recognize that backing data up and archiving data are separate tasks.

Dan Pitt, senior vice president for MEF, formerly known as the Metro Ethernet Forum, said most IT organizations are just beginning to understand the benefits of hybrid clouds. Many IT organizations already have multiple clouds in place and some have even implemented disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) options that make it possible to rehydrate any entire application stack on demand in the event, for example, an entire data center goes offline.

But as a study published by VMware notes, many IT organizations underestimate the challenges that arise from managing multiple clouds. The good news is that if handled properly, data protection represents an opportunity to gain some initial confidence employing a hybrid cloud.