This is the first blog in a series on NetApp IT journey to the hybrid cloud. To read other blogs in the series, click on these links:

As the manager responsible for cloud implementation for NetApp IT, I am frequently asked about the cloud. Is IT in the cloud really inevitable? What factors should I be considering?

 

My first response is that almost every enterprise is likely already using the cloud, whether through online business applications like Salesforce.com or shadow IT applications. As a major industry disruptor, cloud is transforming the way IT services are delivered and consumed by organizations. IT needs to formulate a cloud strategy both to guide its adoption of the cloud on its own terms and to bridge the gap cloud creates between user expectations and what IT is currently capable of delivering.

 

As part of a cloud strategy, the following questions need to be addressed:

  1.  How do I gain the speed and agility of the public cloud and at same time not compromise on governance?
  2. What cloud do I use for what workload?
  3. How do I manage my intellectual property (IP), data, and compliance programs, etc., when my data is spread across multiple clouds?
  4. How do I ensure I don’t get locked into one particular cloud or vendor as IT services change?
  5. How do I deliver a consistent user experience while orchestrating services across various clouds?
  6. How do I operationalize the clouds like we do for our corporate data centers?

The NetApp IT Solution

To address these questions, we have formulated a multilayered hybrid cloud architecture to manage our hybrid cloud. It contains three principal elements:

  • Self-Service Portal: Business users access a common, on-demand interface to request cloud services using an online service catalog.
  • Cloud Management Platform (CMP): The CMP is the governance and automation engine that orchestrates our three current cloud options: enterprise cloud providers, hyperscale cloud providers, and our private cloud built on FlexPod, a converged infrastructure solution that combines NetApp storage with Cisco networking and server technologies.
  • Data Fabric: The foundation of our cloud architecture is a Data Fabric, NetApp’s vision for data management, which provides the technology architecture that enables us to seamlessly manage our data across multiple IT resources, both inside and outside the cloud.

The graphic below illustrates how these three elements work together as part of the NetApp Hybrid Cloud Architecture.

 

I will talk more about this architecture and the role it plays in our strategy in future blogs.

 

Hybrid Cloud Model

NetApp Hybrid Cloud Strategy

NetApp IT’s hybrid cloud strategy was formulated to address the questions above in the context of our hybrid cloud architecture. Our cloud adoption is a journey with the following goals:

 

1) Achieve Cloud Speed and Governance

Business customers want the speed and agility of the public cloud while IT organizations know services have to be delivered with the right security and governance. Sometimes IT can be perceived as the bottleneck. NetApp uses a self-service portal to remove IT as a gateway and leverage automation to provide consistent delivery with security and best practices embedded as part of our blueprint.

 

2) Streamline Workload Mapping

IT manages different types of workloads, and each cloud provider offers its own benefits. The challenge is how to use the cloud on our terms. Some applications are best suited for the private cloud while others are best for the public cloud. Some will require a hybrid strategy. NetApp IT has formulated a cloud decision framework which takes into account factors such as strategy, risk, and workload profile to automate the selection of the right cloud option in the self-service portal.

 

3) Manage Data Across Clouds

NetApp IT augments each of its public cloud providers with its NetApp Private Storage (NPS) solution that controls how we manage our data across the cloud. In this way we can apply the same security and compliance requirements that we use with our on-premises data and integrate the data into our disaster recovery/business continuity strategy. NPS also helps us manage our data in accordance with jurisdictional regulations and data sovereignty requirements.

 

4) Avoid Vendor Lock-In

In the hybrid cloud, your destiny lies where your data is located. Data grows over time, and the more data you have with one cloud provider, the more locked in you are with that vendor. By leveraging NPS and the Data Fabric, NetApp IT keeps data under our control.  We have the flexibility to move between clouds as factors such as cost, service-level agreements and security, change. We do not want to be locked into any one vendor at any time.

 

5) Deliver Consistent User Experience

NetApp IT wants to provide a consistent user experience for our business customers, irrespective of which cloud their services are being delivered from. We don’t want our users to have to learn to use Amazon Web Services or Azure portals or catalogs to access the cloud. Our self-service portal is a one-stop shop for our business and development communities to consume their IT services throughout their application lifecycles. We define a normalized service catalog and maintain all the back-end mappings to corresponding public cloud services.

 

6) Operationalize After Deployment

Service provisioning is just the beginning of a cloud deployment. Services have to be continually supported throughout the application lifecycle, regardless of location. This includes CMDB tracking, tool modeling, and training. Operationalization in the hybrid cloud environment cannot be an afterthought.

 

Key Takeaway: Moving to Model of IT as a Broker

So far our hybrid cloud strategy has delivered many benefits. The self-service portal facilitates a common, easy-to-use, automated process for securing IT services that follows NetApp IT policies. By automating our hybrid cloud strategy as much as possible, we can combine speed, agility and governance. We have the best of both worlds: control of our data and the flexibility to quickly adjust our IT services to changing business needs. Our hybrid cloud strategy supports our evolution as an IT organization from being a technology order-taker to serving as a broker of services that helps NetApp achieve its business goals.

 

Stay tuned for more blogs as we dig deeper into the NetApp IT hybrid cloud strategy.

 

The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.

Kamal Vyas