How To Manage Your Data In The Cloud (But Not Lose Your Mind)

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It’s critical to quickly put data to work. Cloud helps you do this.

Smart CIOs are evolving their existing in-house IT—to include “the cloud.” But beware of hidden pitfalls in moving to cloud computing.

So here are a few top, actionable tips. They’ll help you successfully transition to a modern computing model, stay sane in the face of fast-growing data, and avoid IT management chaos…
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The Challenges We All Face
Whatever your industry, CIOs are continually being asked to do more with less—and faster. Cynthia Stoddard, NetApp’s CIO, concludes that this type of innovation requires a business-focused approach:

Success breeds success. If you act boldly and make wins visible, the rest of your organization will gain confidence in the process. Our goal in IT has been to move from merely supporting the business to really contributing to the business decisions. IT must learn and adapt, because we all have to change.

You’re also under pressure to meet new regulations. Here are the thoughts of Matthew Fawcett, NetApp’s general counsel (or “chief legal officer”):

Data breaches can hurt your Company’s reputation as much as an oil spill or automobile recall. Yet it seems like every week there’s a front page headline about a data breach. In many countries, data protection is a personal and inalienable sovereign right. So compliance isn’t just a good idea—it’s a fundamental requirement for success.

Not only that, but more and more of your users demand increased mobility, secure use of social media, improved speed, with bigger data, and many other revolutions in their IT needs.

Sounds like an impossible task, right?

Cloud Computing To The Rescue
With advancements in technology and evolving operational models, you can now modernize your aging legacy infrastructure. Cloud computing helps you move to a business model that delivers cost-effective IT services.

Businesses of all types and sizes are realizing that cloud is now a viable alternative to traditional, in-house IT. This is primarily due to cloud’s inherent low cost, plus the operational and compliance benefits.

Building on the twin foundations of virtualization and software as a service (SaaS), cloud computing allows you to rapidly deliver new services without up-front capital investment. Cloud architectures help you to:

• access pools of shared resources immediately, while securing your data;
• save time and money, while speeding time to market;
• easily reallocate resources when they’re no longer needed; and
• meet internal SLAs, while making more insightful business decisions.

Simple? Yes, but it’s important to understand that there are several types of cloud…

Which Type Of Cloud?
When people talk about “The Cloud,” they usually mean a public cloud—a cloud-computing infrastructure, hosted in one or more data centers that are shared with other customers of the service provider. This is usually the most efficient and cost-effective option.

However, for certain workloads, a private cloud may be more appropriate. As the name suggests, this uses the same architecture as a public cloud, but does it in private data center(s)—that you own, or rent on an exclusive basis. NetApp’s Richard Bliss explains:

A private cloud allows you to build your own cloud environment with most of the same benefits as public cloud computing. It’s a convenient middle ground between a traditional, on-premises data center and full-blown public cloud computing. And it offers an easy migration path to a public cloud later (if you choose to do that).

A private cloud may be easier to adopt if your primary concern is privacy. Or perhaps your business’s regulator authority takes a narrow view of where your data should be stored.

And there’s a third way: It’s also possible to use a coordinated combination of public and private cloud, to make a hybrid cloud. NetApp’s John Rollason says it’s simple:

Think of it like a hybrid car, which combines an electric motor and internal combustion engine for the best of both worlds: unbeatable fuel economy and 500 miles of range. In terms of cost-effectiveness and control, a hybrid car is the ultimate in automotive flexibility. With hybrid IT, you gain IT flexibility and agility, while maintaining data control.

A hybrid cloud allows you to optimize your business by extending into the cloud and expanding your options, without adding complexity. It’s simple and secure.

The important point to remember is—even if you plan to only use public or a private cloud today—you really should design your infrastructure to make it easy to embrace a hybrid cloud environment tomorrow.

How? The key is in the storage…

Storage Is Critical
Whichever type of cloud you choose, success means an infrastructure where all your resources can be used and shared—flexibly and efficiently. So implementing the right data-storage model is crucial to a cloud-computing infrastructure.

To allow a future move to a hybrid-cloud architecture, you’ll need a single storage and data management platform that enables unrestricted, secure movement of data between public and private clouds:

  • Look for universality, dynamic portability, and the ability to scale to 1,000 times your current storage needs
    — if you think you know what your needs will be in five years, you’re probably wrong
  • Seek a technology that was designed from the ground up to support cloud
    — not one where cloud was added as an afterthought
  • Make sure it can store your data transparently across hundreds of sites, without operational overhead
    — to access it, you shouldn’t need to know physically where the data is
  • And make sure your chosen vendor doesn’t lock you in to their products
    — or restrict your choice of partner

The Bottom Line
You need to capture, store, manage and analyze the massive volume of data that runs your business. Cloud computing offers a cost-effective approach. It allows you to benefit from operational and cost efficiencies, which can help you optimize productivity, meet regulations, and reduce error.

Improving the analysis of your data makes it easy for you to transform that data into actionable intelligence. To remain competitive, it’s critical that you quickly put data to work—allowing you to make timely decisions that move the business forward.

Cloud computing helps you do this. And by intelligently choosing and designing your storage infrastructure, you can drive operational efficiencies and productivity improvements, accelerate delivery of new services to support new business opportunities, and drastically reduce costs.


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