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Think Twice Before You Modernize Storage with Cloud

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Many businesses are looking to break free from yesterday’s on-premises storage solutions and embrace a cloud-first mentality. It’s no wonder why: legacy storage hardware has increasingly become a burden to manage, is difficult to upgrade, and in many cases unable to keep up with growing workload demands.

While the decision to modernize your storage environment is a shrewd one, the idea of going cloud-first requires deeper thought. That’s because not every workload is well suited to run on the public cloud. In recent years, some businesses have made cloud-first their standard, simply because they could – and not because they deemed the workload an especially good fit for the cloud. Consequently, many of these businesses have experienced pitfalls that limit – or altogether negate – the benefits they were hoping to realize from migration.

The Challenges of Running Apps and Data in the Cloud

Excessive costs: While the cloud is generally viewed as a way to save costs, many experience the opposite. The combination of virtually unlimited scale and extensive automation encourages customers to store unprecedented amounts of enterprise data in the cloud. These capabilities, however, make it easy to lose track of how much data you’re storing, leading to sticker shock when the first bill arrives. Ingress/egress fees and the use of hot storage when cold would be acceptable for a given dataset also add to these costs.

Provider lock-in: Public cloud providers don’t deliver on-premises replication for data stored on the cloud, meaning the data is locked into the cloud environment. This forces customers to leverage third-party ISVs to replicate data to their physical environments, which is needed to run a consistent hybrid cloud or repatriate data on-premises.

Poor data visibility: Once data resides on the cloud, native public cloud tools often fail to deliver the visibility that IT professionals expect. According to a 2019 study conducted by Dimensional Research, less than 20% of respondents reported that they had the data needed to properly monitor their public cloud environment (compared to 82% who had the proper resources on-premises).

Performance: Because cloud provider data centers are located around the world, customers are forced to pull the results of the queries they run across massive geographic distances. This results in significant latency that can limit the overall performance of their applications. Furthermore, cloud providers tend to leverage commodity hardware that doesn’t provide the performance applications need.

Taking a More Thoughtful Approach to Storage Modernization

Businesses should take a more thoughtful approach to storage modernization. Rather than committing all applications and data to the cloud regardless of their fit, customers should assess which applications are good candidates. Those looking to achieve lower costs, greater agility, or less complexity can leverage a combination of physical and virtual technologies from established storage leaders, like HPE, Dell EMC, and NetApp, to best complement their workloads:

  • Solid-state arrays (SSA, also referred to as “all-flash”) for apps in need of the highest levels of performance, like data analytics, database infrastructure, and AI/ML.

  • Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to run your traditional on-premises workloads, such as file service.

  • Public cloud storage to support less critical use cases, like backup and application development environments.

Modernizing Your Storage Environment

To ensure a smooth deployment and on-going management, it can be helpful to leverage a storage consultant who can provide a service that streamlines your modernization efforts. Areas where help is often required include:

  • Assessment: Assessing your existing environment to help you understand what kinds of data you store and determine the optimal blend of storage resources. During this phase, you need to identify redundant, obsolete, or trivial data – which can add up to as much as 70% of your footprint – to right-size capacity and reduce costs.

  • Installation expertise: Look for teams that have the highest level of certifications offered by Dell EMC, HPE, and NetApp (which represent 46% of the storage market). Also, look for expertise in data migration, data center consolidation, and complementary competencies like Microsoft, data analytics, and security. This streamlines your setup so you can more quickly derive value from your storage environment. 

  • Managed services: Once you have your storage environment installed, look for help with 24x7x365 monitoring and support to effectively manage your new hybrid environment.

Detailed reviews and recommendations on storage modernization options can be found here.