Interview: Red Hat’s Irshad Raihan on Hybrid Cloud Storage

Interview Red Hats Irshad Raihan on Hybrid Cloud StorageIrshad Raihan is the director of product marketing at open source software provider, Red Hat. When dealing with storage, any limitations can greatly reduce an organization’s chances of being successful. However, correctly implementing hybrid cloud storage can bring flexibility and scalability. With four years of experience at Red Hat, Raihan was able to provide insight into the nitty-gritty of hybrid cloud storage.

What advantages does hybrid cloud storage offer?

Hybrid cloud storage supports application portability — a primary driver for most of our customers. They appreciate the freedom to develop, deploy and maintain enterprise apps completely independent from where they run, (on-premise or in the cloud), today or in the future. Hybrid cloud storage offers them a way to move applications in and out of the public cloud as their needs evolve.

Hybrid cloud storage also offers lower risk and greater flexibility by eliminating the cost and restrictions associated with getting locked into a single public cloud provider. Enterprises can also enjoy consistency of management tools, governances, and policy enforcement across all applications, irrespective of whether they are hosted on-premise or in the cloud.

In addition, some enterprises prefer to invest in a cloud broker rather than with a public cloud provider directly. This gives them the flexibility to think about applications across bare metal, private and multiple public clouds, rather than just one public cloud. This is especially true as they find that data gravity and egress costs of the public cloud offset the convenience.

What should businesses consider before implementing hybrid cloud?

The key consideration is whether to “lift and shift” traditional applications running on-premise into the cloud, or to build cloud-native applications from the ground up. Some customers choose to use the opportunity to refactor traditional applications as they get moved to the cloud.

Another important consideration is which applications lend themselves to the hybrid cloud. Many customers make the mistake of first counting applications that shouldn’t be moved to the cloud for one reason or another, and then moving the rest of their applications. This is not a recommended approach. Instead, we recommend building a hybrid cloud strategy first and then making a holistic decision on a per-application basis.

Finally, some organizations may wish to consider managed cloud services as a transitional step as they fully adopt the open hybrid cloud.

How does strong storage affect a hybrid cloud platform?

Storage is probably the stickiest piece of the technology stack. Changing storage is cumbersome and expensive, since there are many application related dependencies. Therefore, having strong storage is critical to a hybrid cloud platform.

As enterprises think about storage for the hybrid cloud, they need to address some very important considerations.

First, most cloud vendors have proprietary data management protocols that could lock in customers, while, by the same token, there are many on-premise storage vendors who can’t operate in the cloud. It’s important for organizations to have a consistent set of storage management tools they can use across on-premise and cloud deployments.

According to analyst firm ESG Global, about 40% of enterprises have moved at least one application from the public cloud to on-premise. As a result, it’s important that enterprises invest in a storage platform that offers choice and flexibility to move applications across cloud boundaries.

Organizations should also consider integration with Kubernetes. Kubernetes is clearly becoming an orchestration framework for both applications and infrastructure. As such, enterprises would do well to elect to use storage platforms that are well integrated into Kubernetes distributions.

Why is a flexible platform important for the hybrid cloud?

The key drivers for the hybrid cloud, such as application portability and lowering costs and risk, cannot be achieved without flexibility in the underlying platform. Infrastructure flexibility and scalability are directly linked to business agility, and can help control cost and risk. A flexible platform also allows for new frameworks and technologies to be incorporated in the future.

Where do you see the future of hybrid cloud storage going?

The biggest trend we are seeing is the emergence of vendors, like Red Hat, that don’t own a public cloud but are a trusted partner in the adoption of the open hybrid cloud. Our company represents a viable fourth option to the existing three public cloud vendors. Since Red Hat doesn’t own a hardware business or a public cloud, it is in a position to recommend a hybrid cloud technology stack to customers that is purpose-built for their needs, and built on a combination of open technologies that offer the most choice and flexibility to customers.

Another important trend is that Linux containers and Kubernetes will continue to drive innovation within the hybrid cloud ecosystem. We see Kubernetes being used for much more than just application container orchestration. Directionally, all of infrastructure could eventually be orchestrated by Kubernetes and all of enterprise software could be deployed in containers. Storage will play a critical role in this evolution.

Tess Hanna
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