Cloud Services / Data / Storage / Contributed

Why Multicloud Is a Smart Strategy for Enterprises

29 Jan 2020 3:01am, by

Russ Kennedy
As chief product officer, Russ Kennedy leads Nasuni's product management, planning, and roadmap efforts. Before Nasuni, Russ directed product strategy at private cloud object storage pioneer Cleversafe through its $1.3 billion acquisition by IBM. Earlier in his career, Russ served in a variety of product management and development roles, most notably at StorageTek (acquired by Sun Microsystems), where he brought several industry-leading products to market. Russ has a BS degree in Computer Science from Colorado State University and an MBA degree from the University of Colorado.

Businesses today are drowning in data. Companies of all types are generating not just an increasing number of files, but file sizes are also growing rapidly. A single gaming file, for instance, can be 80GB in size. It’s a challenge to manage this flood of data using traditional methods designed for on-premises, non-collaborative environments.

Recognizing the limitations of traditional storage, organizations are looking to the cloud. Enterprise IT is zeroing in on hybrid solutions that combine the best of cloud and local storage. That’s a smart strategy. Hybrid solutions leverage the infinite capacity, accessibility and economic savings of the cloud while pairing with one of the key advantages of local network-attached storage (NAS): performance. The combination promotes global collaboration and serves as a powerful tool for business continuity, giving organizations access to files almost instantaneously in case of a local disaster.

What’s particularly interesting is that companies moving to the cloud for file data storage are increasingly adopting a multicloud approach when it comes to storing, managing, protecting and providing access to unstructured data. Even organizations that once only used private cloud are including public options in their strategy because they provide capabilities that are difficult to replicate in a private cloud. They’ve also discovered that public cloud can be less expensive for some workloads. Companies don’t just want to get files in the cloud, they want to share and access them throughout their global enterprise, have their data fully protected and do it more cost-effectively, all of which require a cloud with capabilities such as multisite synchronization and a global file lock.

The Advantages of Multicloud for Unstructured Data

There are several compelling arguments for using a multicloud strategy:

  • Data sovereignty: In a number of countries, particularly in the European Union, data must physically remain in the country where it was created for regulatory compliance reasons. But in multinational organizations, subsidiaries in countries not subject to the same restrictions might need to access that data. In this case, multicloud is a necessity to comply with GDPR and similar regulations.
  • Data analytics: Many organizations want to decouple data and analytics platforms. They don’t want them on the same cloud, for compliance (in the case of data sovereignty requirements, for instance) and commercial reasons. They may also want data to be accessible everywhere for processing and analytics. A multicloud approach to file infrastructure provides that combination of flexibility and control.
  • Avoiding vendor lock-in: Having all data in a single cloud reduces a company’s ability to negotiate better terms. If you’re locked into one vendor and can’t easily move your storage, you lose leverage and can’t threaten to move elsewhere as a bargaining tool. Working with multiple clouds gives you the flexibility to take advantage of new deals that come up or to try new cloud services as your business needs change. It also provides a hedge in case you get involved in a contract dispute with your cloud provider; if they control all of your data, they have all the leverage.

Multicloud also provides technical flexibility, as not all clouds have the same strengths. It’s wise to keep your options open, as a decision that’s right for an organization this year might not be the best solution in the future. Multicloud gives buyers the freedom to vote with their feet.

Two Caveats to Adopting Multicloud

These are compelling reasons for adopting a multicloud approach for unstructured data, but companies doing so need to remember two things. First, users don’t care about infrastructure. Users just want to do their jobs as efficiently as possible, without significantly changing the way they work. They aren’t hung up on the specifics of the infrastructure or concerned about what’s going on behind the scenes. So long as they get a familiar experience, with no technical hassles and minimal delays, they’ll be happy. Modern file systems built for the cloud can enable this optimal user experience. A successful multicloud file storage solution enables enterprises to give all users the same fast, reliable, secure experience.

Second, while the major object storage vendors have file storage solutions that are largely geared toward moving files to the cloud, they’re not designed to replace your global NAS systems, as they lack key functionality. Even worse, they can leave you locked into one vendor. Object storage is cheap, robust and a great place to store data, but it requires additional technology to store files in a way that users and applications can easily access. Thankfully, there are now services that leverage the cloud’s object store architecture to create a global file system that can replace an on-site NAS.

At its best, a sound multicloud strategy provides a way to store, protect, synchronize and collaborate on files globally, while meeting global data sovereignty requirements, controlling how you leverage analytics, avoid vendor lock-in and delivering an enterprise experience to all your global users. And with a multicloud approach, you can do all of this without losing your negotiating leverage or giving up flexibility.

Featured image via Pixabay.

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