Hybrid Cloud Storage

What is Hybrid Cloud Storage?

Hybrid cloud storage combines on-premises (data center or colo) and public cloud storage resources within an organization’s data landscape via technology that enables data portability. It is a flexible solution combining the advantages of both storage types. It helps firms react to changing data demands so they can comply with industry regulations and optimize resource utilization by providing flexibility, scalability, data security, and cost-effectiveness.

Hybrid cloud storage architecture

Hybrid cloud storage employs on-premises and public cloud storage resources to provide a flexible and scalable storage solution. A hybrid cloud strategy enables organizations to leverage on-premises storage and public cloud storage with seamless migration between the two to achieve unprecedented agility and flexibility across environments.

  • Hybrid cloud storage is comprised of:
    1. On-premises storage: The most advanced on-prem storage offerings provide a cloud experience in terms of provisioning workloads and ease of management. Organizations use on-premises storage for sensitive or essential data that needs high performance, low latency, or regulatory compliance.
    2. Public cloud storage: Cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure, and GCP offer storage capabilities for public cloud storage. Public cloud storage solutions are scalable and offer low cost of entry, typically with pay-as-you-go pricing. These solutions can work well for backup, archive, test/dev, and new initiatives. Hybrid cloud combines on-premises infrastructure and public cloud services. Organizations operate hybrid cloud storage to improve flexibility, performance, and cost by effortlessly migrating data between on-premises and public cloud resources based on changing IT demands.

Types of hybrid cloud storage

Across hybrid cloud, storage resources may leverage a variety of storage data types to support diverse use cases:

  • Block storage: Ideal for applications that require high performance and low latency, such as databases.
  • File storage: NFS and SMB-accessible shared file systems are appropriate for programs like document collaboration and content management systems that need access to shared files.
  • Object storage: A highly scalable and durable storage solution, object storage saves data as metadata-rich objects for unstructured data, backups, and archives.

Data management in hybrid cloud storage

Efficient data management is paramount in hybrid cloud storage environments to enhance performance, cost-effectiveness, and data accessibility. Leading storage vendors today offer visibility and control across hybrid environments, including options for data replication and backup, archive, and disaster recovery.

Effective data management in hybrid cloud storage involves optimizing data storage through tiering, implementing data retention and archiving policies, ensuring data redundancy through replication, and establishing robust backup and disaster recovery strategies to safeguard against data loss and downtime.

Hybrid cloud storage best practices

Hybrid cloud storage requires careful design and administration to maximize performance, data availability, and cost-efficiency. Best practices for hybrid cloud storage are:

  • Scalability and capacity planning
    • Assess current and future needs to plan for your company's storage needs and growth. Take into account data volume, access patterns, and performance.
    • Right-size storage by selecting storage options that meet workload needs. Avoid over- or under-provisioning by considering as-a-service offerings.
    • Leverage cloud-model on-demand storage options to dynamically scale resources to address data spikes in storage demand.

 

  • Backup and disaster recovery:
    • Define explicit backup rules that indicate what data to backup, how often, and for how long. Your backup strategy should include on-premises and public cloud storage options for data resilience.
    • Make a plan for disaster recovery. Prepare for data center outages, hardware failures, and data corruption with a thorough disaster recovery strategy. Use automatic failover and test disaster recovery strategies.
    • Encrypt data in transit and at rest on-premises and in the cloud. Securely maintain encryption keys to prevent data leaks.

 

  • Performance monitoring and optimization
    • Continuous monitoring: Take advantage of powerful monitoring systems to track on-premises and cloud storage resource performance and health, and proactively handle potential issues with notifications.
    • Performance tuning: Continuously monitor and improve your hybrid cloud storage system, for example by adjusting storage tiers, improving data transport, and matching data access patterns to storage capacity.
    • Cost management: Public cloud cost of entry is typically low, but those costs can easily spiral if not closely monitored. Consider on-premises as-a-service storage options for some of your workloads. 
    • Workload placement: Assess your workload mix to identify which are better suited to on-premises or public cloud resources. Consider latency, compliance, and cost, data residency.
    • Cloud-native tools: Use your storage vendor’s cloud-native monitoring and management tools to assess your cloud storage resources' performance.

 

Capacity planning, backup and disaster recovery, monitoring, and performance optimization best practices help enterprises manage hybrid cloud storage infrastructures to save money and avoid interruptions.

HPE leads hybrid cloud storage innovation

Via the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, HPE has been at the forefront of innovation in the hybrid cloud space. From on-demand, enterprise-grade block and file storage to SaaS-based backup and recovery and disaster recovery, HPE GreenLake delivers the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio to store, manage, and protect data across hybrid cloud. HPE solutions extend customer flexibility and simplify data management with an intuitive cloud experience everywhere:

  • HPE GreenLake for Block Storage — Simplify data management with self-service agility for all of your apps via enterprise block storage built on an expanded HPE Alletra portfolio.
  • HPE GreenLake for File Storage — Accelerate data-first modernization by powering data-intensive workloads with enterprise-grade, scale-out file storage.
  • HPE Alletra Storage — Seamlessly run any app without compromise from edge to cloud with an intuitive cloud experience for every workload.
  • HPE GreenLake Private Cloud Business Edition — Build a self-service, self-managed private cloud on demand wherever needed, with a unified interface to simplify VM to infrastructure management.
  • HPE GreenLake for Backup and Recovery — Easily deliver for every backup SLA across hybrid cloud with industry-leading backup, recovery, and ransomware protection.
  • HPE GreenLake for Disaster Recovery — Slash risk of data loss with simple, self-service disaster recovery that deploys in minutes and delivers industry-leading RPOs and RTOs. Think of it as disaster recovery at your fingertips.

Current storage trends

The vast majority of enterprises continue to acquire traditional technology with an upfront capital purchase where the purchaser “owns” the asset. In fact, only 29% use a hybrid model for their storage needs. This persists despite an urgent need for businesses to be agile and able to rapidly adapt to changing market, consumer, and regulatory conditions.

Why do organizations resist the cloud?

Some businesses shy away from using the cloud because they have already invested heavily in on-premises infrastructure, have regulatory or compliance concerns about cloud security, or lack in-house expertise in running cloud applications. However, businesses can get the same agility, scalability, and even pay-as-you-go structure with hybrid cloud solutions—even while using on-premises data centers as part of the landscape.

Related HPE Solutions, Products, or Services

Security in hybrid cloud

In hybrid cloud environments, enterprise IT has control over where data resides and what security policies will govern each data pool. This way, IT gains the best of both public and private cloud—flexibility and control simultaneously.

However, that flexibility can lead to security inconsistencies because in some cloud architectures (like SaaS), fully duplicating security policies can be impossible. It also requires significantly more administrative skill to monitor and act on threats when vulnerable resources reside in different environments.

What kinds of hybrid cloud storage are there?

Users can select from a few storage options, including unstructured and structured capacities. Unstructured or “raw” storage capacity comes in the form of object stores, files, and block services.

Structured storage capacities allow the user to work with the database interfaces for more control. Providers may limit users to the proprietary query language or allow traditional query languages, such as SQL and NoSQL.

How is hybrid cloud storage used?

Organizations use hybrid cloud storage to enable agility and scalability and to modernize interfaces while keeping them partially on-premises. Typical use cases include:

  • Business continuity and disaster recovery: Hybrid cloud storage can be used when organizations want to keep core data on-premises but allow the business to continue operating during a system failure. By replicating the data in the cloud, enterprises essentially switch workloads to the cloud while repairing or recovering production systems.
  • Remote workplaces: During lockdown, organizations deployed hybrid cloud storage to allow remote access to data while maintaining workload productivity and efficiency.
  • Website efficiency: Object stores in a hybrid cloud setup can be used for primary data that customer-facing websites access directly from the cloud. This saves on storage hardware and improves site performance.
  • Faster data retrieval: Users often separate archives from frequently used data and place the dormant data in the cloud. This speeds retrieval times for accessing the primary data.
  • Security and regulatory compliance: Organizations with regulatory compliance issues often use a private cloud to store sensitive data, while using on-premises hardware or public cloud to store VMs and applications.
  • Analytics and machine learning: Hybrid cloud storage providers offer AI-driven predictive analytics to speed troubleshooting and enable uptime for business databases.
  • Container optimization: Using hybrid cloud storage, companies can get more out of their containers that are used to move data more easily.

Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid cloud storage

Advantages

  • Speed up business outcomes: By using hybrid cloud storage, users don’t have to wait to requisition and procure additional on-premises capacity. Once data is replicated in the cloud, lines of businesses and developers can start running queries within minutes.
  • Increase visibility: Most providers offer a central data management console that allows users to view usage and spend, as well as detailed insights into capacity trends.
  • Cost savings: With hybrid cloud storage, users can pay as they go rather than shelling out upfront capital to purchase and provision additional on-premises storage infrastructure. This ability enables financial clarity with variable monthly payments based on actual usage.
  • Scale on demand: Using hybrid cloud storage, users can access additional capacity in minutes, not months, which allows users to limit the risks of over-provisioning and under-provisioning.
  • Free up IT resources: In a hybrid cloud storage model, routine tasks can be managed by the service provider, which allows IT to focus on strategic business initiatives instead.

Disadvantages

  • Increased complexity: With two or more storage locations, at least two sets of IT infrastructure must be managed with software designed to handle the multiple locations.
  • Higher latency: With data moving to and from the cloud, communication speeds are slower than between infrastructure components in one location.
  • Increased management: Hybrid cloud storage comes with the need to manage multiple supplier contracts and system management tools.