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Roundtable Discussion: Can a True Hybrid Storage Solution Exist?

On a recent episode of the On Premise IT Roundtable podcast, I joined three of the best minds in cloud storage and unstructured data management to answer the question of whether or not real hybrid cloud storage exists. With me was Enrico Signoretti of GigaOm, Chris Evans of Architecting IT, and Stephen Foskett, publisher of Gestalt IT and organizer of Tech Field Day.

There is a long-standing dream of hybrid cloud that combines the best of data center and cloud technologies into a unified data environment that takes advantage of preferred applications, compute environments, and storage tiers. Yet, hybrid cloud solutions to date have failed to deliver on this promise to connect any user or application with the organization’s data across the hybrid cloud.  It has proven difficult, with the technologies available over the past decade, to share data between locations, create actionable metadata for unstructured data, and a myriad of implementation details have not been standardized that have led to isolated data sets and redundant copy proliferation.  

Defining Hybrid Cloud

Certainly the cloud is an important part of just about every IT infrastructure in some way or another. But what does “hybrid cloud” mean exactly? Over the past decade or so it’s been defined in a variety of ways, encompassing hybrid cloud computing, hybrid data storage, as well as moving data in between two separate infrastructures. That’s where a lot of confusion comes in. 

Notably, perspectives on what hybrid cloud is (and needs to be) differs from a user or application view versus IT’s point of view. A user simply wants to access their data; they don’t care where it’s stored.  But IT teams have different considerations, including how to provide that access in an automated way, as well as latency, performance, cost, supply chain contracts, etc. 

“When you say hybrid storage I think initially we might’ve thought that that was the ability to extend our data model into the cloud so we could take advantage of, say, cheaper compute in the cloud,” said Evans. “I think getting to the premise of what hybrid means is really important because it helps us understand that we’re talking about something new that joins two things together to theoretically make it better than it would’ve been if we’re operating them independently.” 

It gets further complicated, said Evans, with the challenge of understanding cost models, and how to move data around physically. “This is more than just saying ‘I’m going to move some data to the cloud, use it, and move it back’ because that’s not really giving you the hybrid opportunity,” he said. “You really want to see all your data in one place. That’s actually a really hard thing to do; I don’t think there’s really a lot of people out there who are managing to achieve that to the degree that the end-user wants.” 

What’s Hype and What’s Reality When It Comes to Hybrid Cloud?

Signoretti commented that “Everybody talks about moving 60% of my infrastructure to the cloud in the next few years. That’s great, but actually many of these guys are also moving back some other parts that they thought were much more convenient to run in the cloud when they discovered it was actually not.” 

In actuality, hybrid cloud as we know it today has not realized the true goal of what people actually want: the ability to connect applications and data no matter where they are stored. 

“I suspect that when people first started talking about the idea of hybrid we thought about it in terms of that final goal,” said Evans, “but the idea that Enrico was talking about where you move data to where you want it, have it available whenever you need it, and just spin up an app in the cloud…in reality, most enterprises struggle with that because they have to have the skills to support all those different platforms that have incredibly complicated cost models.”

At Hammerspace, we deliver the world’s first and only Global Data Environment that unifies data across data centers and clouds for access from applications and users anywhere. This breaks down the boundaries of data access for users and applications anywhere in the world to create, process, store, and protect data on any existing data center or preferred cloud infrastructure. We’ve had the luxury of building this technology after hybrid cloud was launched in the market. We were able to learn what users really wanted and how it’s really working in the market, and then build the technology from scratch to do that, versus having something that had to be modified.  

It’s intentional that Hammerspace doesn’t refer to our technology as “cloud storage” to avoid the confusion around definitions mentioned earlier. We’re able to offer something wholly unique and innovative to the market: the ability to give users and applications local, read/write access to all of their file data across all silos and locations based upon their permission while providing IT managers the ability to manage all their data and storage resources globally, without interrupting access to users and applications, and without being overwhelmed with the complexity of silo-based point solutions for data services.

You can listen to the full 30-minute podcast here for more on our discussion about the potential of hybrid cloud.  Find educational videos about Hammerspace’s technical integrations as well as our experts providing demos during Tech Field Day here

Learn More 

Contact us to set up a meeting and learn more about how Hammerspace can help you drive business value from your data and accomplish your digital transformation goals.

About the Author

Molly is the Head of Global Marketing at Hammerspace, host of the Data Unchained Podcast, and co-author of "Unstructured Data Orchestration For Dummies, Hammerspace Special Edition." Throughout her career, she has produced innovative go-to-market strategies to meet the needs of innovative enterprises and data-driven vertically focused businesses.