Posted by: Greg Ness | April 24, 2015

Hybrid Cloud Coming of Age for Disaster Recovery

2015 should prove to be a pivotal year for enterprise cloud adoption, thanks to a series of critical developments, including accelerating interest in the hybrid cloud.

HIGH GROWTH FOR HYBRID CLOUD

Numerous reports and surveys (previously reported in Archimedius) predict high growth for the hybrid cloud market:

  • Research and Markets just published a report predicting that “the hybrid cloud market is expected to grow from $25.28 billion in 2014 to $84.67 billion by 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.3% from 2014 to 2019.”
  • A recent study by Peer 1 Hosting has hybrid cloud adoption tripling by 2018.
  • In a Computerworld article by Sharon Gaudin late last year IDC analyst Frank Gens predicted an increasing “hybrid movement” in 2015, that would be enough to boost the entire cloud market. In the same article Technology Business Research predicted 50 percent growth in hybrid cloud for 2015.

Industry experts also predict that the trend to hybrid will be significant enough to manifest itself in other ways; for example, the hybrid cloud will impact traditional colocation services, including private cloud deployment.

“Use of on-premises hosting is expected to fall from 31 percent to 17 percent in the next three years,” Peer 1 Hosting said, “while private cloud hosting could decline from 52 percent to 41 percent during that time frame.”

– Talkin’ Cloud, citing Peer 1 Research

Yet this high growth in the hybrid cloud, thus far at least, has been enabled by a low initial revenue base.  Enterprises appear to have just started to deploy hybrid clouds in meaningful numbers and sizes.  The barriers to hybrid cloud adoption have been related to the processes, risks and costs to extend security and compliance-related controls and services into the cloud.

THE SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE BARRIER

Concerns about security and compliance have topped most lists as the biggest barriers to hybrid cloud adoption.  Yet even these concerns are easing as a result of ongoing cloud provider investments and new offerings aimed at enterprises.  The security and compliance gap between private cloud and public cloud capabilities has been shrinking, per recent research.  In fact, the public cloud is already superior to many existing data center environments, and clearly most expect the gap between the two to dissolve as billions more are invested in advanced cloud infrastructure in coming years.

“It’s not that CIOs and CEOs are less concerned about security, especially when it comes to the cloud. It’s just that cloud vendors are coming up with better security answers, according to Allan Krans, an analyst with Technology Business Research.”

–  Computerworld, Dec 18, 2014

Last year I spoke to a CIO at an organization that deployed hybrid cloud disaster recovery (DR) ahead of the pack.  When he brought up the idea initially, he faced some early resistance related to cloud security.  So the team hired a security auditor to test the organization’s environment in the cloud. A few weeks later the consultant started the meeting with “I have some good news and some bad news.”  The bad news was that there were some security vulnerabilities.

“What could possibly be the good news?” the CIO asked.

“There are fewer vulnerabilities in the cloud than in your native environment,” the consultant answered.

Even if cloud providers offer better security and compliance, the migration path, especially for larger enterprise environments, can be treacherous.  Complex network, security and management controls need to be extended into the cloud.  These processes have traditionally been expensive, time consuming and risky.  That reality takes us to the automation barrier: while clouds have matured to enable enterprise-equivalent controls, the cost of extending those controls from the premise into the cloud has often been prohibitive.

Hybrid cloud automation then emerges as a critical capability.

AUTOMATION BARRIER

A recent survey published in CRN.Channelweb.co.uk “found that 41 percent felt that migrating complex apps to the cloud is ‘more trouble than it’s worth.’”  There is good reason for the findings: the traditional body shops and the various tools created to run on virtualized environments, including IaaS regions, typically do not automate the vast number of processes involved with extending the critical network, security and management services from the premise into the cloud.

Most were designed with agility or DR within a virtualized environment (e.g. v-motion), not between a traditional mixed (virtual and physical workload) environment.  This lack of automation has left plenty of costs and risks on the table, especially for larger enterprise cloud environments.

While public clouds have a well-worn path to automation once you are in the cloud, the lack of implementation when it comes to hybrid clouds is primarily due to customers and service providers building islands of automation (private clouds with platform lock-in).

The lack of use or adoption of available APIs leads to inefficiencies in process and a reduced TCO benefit to users and service providers alike.  That will change in coming years.

THE RISE OF HYBRID CLOUD AUTOMATION

Hybrid cloud automation software has matured and is now more capable of extending critical network and security services needed to address security and compliance requirements.  Automation has spread from mere image conversion or server-level blueprinting tools to platforms that automate the discovery, blueprinting, provisioning and synchronization of entire app stacks, services and databases for migration to the cloud or cloud DR.

Late last year I spoke with one of the leading disaster recovery analysts; he said the average cloud DR deployment was fewer than 20 servers, and few deployments were for apps supporting 30 or more workloads.  This year, environments looking for hybrid cloud deployment are many times larger.  For example, late last year MyPoints shuttered its western regional colocation facility and moved its 100-plus legacy server environment into AWS using hybrid cloud automation software for Pilot Light DR.

The MyPoints team had spent a year evaluating various options.  They finally found software that tackled the issue of extending networking security into the cloud.  Critical processes were automated, saving time and money while reducing risk.  Suddenly the cloud DR payoff was more than in sight: MyPoints reduced its TCO by 50 percent while establishing its first quarterly DR test plan.  The automated hybrid cloud allowed MyPoints to save money and increase trust in its DR environment.

KEY STEPS FOR HYBRID CLOUD AUTOMATION

Hybrid Cloud Automation Gears

STEPS

Discovery: Discovery of hosts (physical or VMs) in the application and mapping of dependencies (services, configurations, settings, etc.)

Blueprinting: Mapping static and dynamic workload characterization

Provisioning: Static and dynamic workload characterization

Synchronization: Continuous replication and synchronization of all hosts (OS, app, data, etc.)

Initiation: Igniting into production for testing, outage or migration

WHERE AUTOMATION MATTERS

Migrating an image of a server or a VM onto a cloud is perhaps the most trivial part of hybrid cloud automation.  The most challenging and yet vital processes to automate relate to the network, security and management services, i.e., those that often address security and compliance requirements. From discovery to provisioning, missteps in this area can add massive costs and risks to any project, especially for large environments.  Databases also have specialized needs for integration, often requiring third-party tools.

MyPoints relied on software that was powerful enough to address its demanding network and security requirements, so they would no longer be a barrier to hybrid cloud adoption.  In that respect the deployment is a model for future hybrid cloud DR deployments.

LESSONS LEARNED- WHERE MIGRATION MATTERS

Hybrid cloud automation software requires a new level of sophistication compared to the tools developed for traditional virtualization platforms or existing IaaS architectures.  Because traditional tools weren’t architected for key premises requirements, especially for physical systems, which are still commonplace, they require a great deal of manual support, which leads to increased costs, longer time to deployment and greater risk.

So as enhanced security and compliance make the cloud more enterprise-friendly, the key migration and deployment processes for extending security and networking services into the cloud are becoming increasingly automated.  As that happens, hybrid cloud deployments will become even larger and adoption will increase at a faster rate.

The missing link for the hybrid cloud for those still waiting for the hybrid cloud DR payoff?  Robust software that automates otherwise manual processes required to bridge the premises and the cloud.  This software will allow the enterprise cloud, and especially cloud DR, to come of age, as recently proven by MyPoints.


Responses

  1. Great related article in InformationWeek today: http://www.informationweek.com/software/enterprise-applications/it-staff-fearful-of-cloud-try-cloud-whispering/a/d-id/1320327? IT Staff Fearful Of Cloud? Try Cloud Whispering


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