Howard Young is a Solutions Architect at Zadara Storage.
Call it cloud hydration, cloud migration or whatever – the dirty secret of cloud deployments today is that the actual “lift and shift” process of data storage to a target cloud can be a lengthy, complicated and risky process. That’s particularly so when IT teams look beyond the low-hanging fruit of applications such as email and collaboration, and look to hydrate more complex, line-of-business applications. However, with proper planning, these concerns can be alleviated.
With experts projecting 18 to 20 percent growth in cloud hydrations of formerly on-premises applications during both 2017 and 2018 (Cloud Technology Partners, January 2017), it’s a particular issue for production settings, multi-cloud deployments, or static deployments where data volumes are massive.
Organizations performing cloud hydrations need to address:
- Bandwidth – so that multi-petabyte applications transfer without performance degradation to the rest of business operations
- Mixed media support – since it likely has SSD, hard disk and tape to import
- Physical considerations – for example, if it lacks cost-effective high-speed Internet connections
- Security and governance requirements – so the hydration doesn’t itself expose the organization to intrusion or compliance requirement violations.
When cloud hydrations touch storage, it’s also important to:
- Avoid the need to convert – which is especially important at petabyte scale where a seemingly few hours for this task quickly balloons into much more.
- Make sure there’s enterprise format support – for example, the CIFS and NFS storage formats are not always broadly supported, and converting data may jeopardize the hydration timeline.
New options exist for exporting data to a target cloud deployment non-disruptively and accurately, even for production data in hybrid and multi-cloud.
Large Static Data Settings
With static data, cloud hydration is straightforward. IT teams or their third-party resources can leverage physical media such as a NAS appliance to expedite the hydration process for file, block or object storage with over 1 TB of data volumes. This method is appropriate when data does not need to be continuously online, or in instances requiring the use of a slow, unreliable, or expensive Internet connection. With the few caveats, the approach is swift and painless:
- The appliance should support the target environment (Windows vs. Linux) and file type (e.g., NFS, CIFS, Fibre Channel etc.)
- It should include encryption, preferably 256-bit AES
- A readily shipped form factor that is configurable with RAID for durability works best
- For transferring over 30T of data, multiple appliances can be used – or the team can leverage one appliance and repeat the process several times to move data in logical chunks or segments.
While some cloud hydration providers require the purchase of the appliance, others allow for one-time use of the appliance during hydration, after which it is returned, and the IT team is charged on a per terabyte use basis, without a CapEx purchase or long-term commitment.
This process requires some method of moving the data and resynchronizing once the data is moved to the cloud. To do so non-disruptively, some form of intermediary is required.
Mirroring represents an elegant answer to the tasks of hydrating production data. It requires two local on-premises appliances that have the capability to keep track of incremental changes to the production environment while data is being moved to the new cloud target. First production data is mirrored to the first appliance, creating an online copy of the data set. A second mirror is created from the first mirror, creating a second online copy. The second mirror is “broken” and the appliance is shipped to the cloud environment. The mirror is then reconnected between the on-premises copy and the remote copy and data synchronization is re-established. Thus, an online copy of the data is now in the cloud and the servers can failover to the cloud.
Hybrid- or Multi-cloud Considerations
With hybrid clouds representing 47 percent of all deployments – the most popular cloud deployment strategy – and multi-cloud deployments increasingly popular (North Bridge VC/Wikibon Future of the Cloud survey), cloud hydration best practices for hybrid or multi-cloud capabilities are increasingly important.
Hydration approaches that allow asynchronous replication between cloud platforms make it an easy decision for IT teams to optimize their cloud infrastructures for both performance and cost. Organizations can hydrate specific workloads to one cloud platform or another (e.g., Windows applications on Azure, opensource on AWS); or move them to where they can leverage the best negotiated prices and terms for given requirements. A cloud hydration approach that enables concurrent access to other clouds also enables ready transfer and almost instant failover between clouds, in the event of an outage on one provider.
Longtime IT industry analyst James Governor presciently noted that “convenience is the killer app” when it comes to managing cloud infrastructure. New options make it even easier, and more convenient, to perform even complex cloud hydrations so IT teams can spend more time using their cloud deployments to accelerate their organization’s agility, while minimizing minimize risk, cost and hassle.
Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.