May 2, 2018
"Stratus" as a Cloud Strategy: Part 1
In this blog series, we’re going to be looking at some of the common challenges traditional IT organizations face today and explore how we can leverage the cloud for solutions to these problems. In our first entry, we’ll focus on protecting your data with backups and disaster recovery (“DR”).
But first, let’s take the cloud computing conversation a little too literally for just a minute. As in, the actual white puffy things floating in the sky…
Did you know stratus clouds are the lowest type of clouds in Earth’s atmosphere? Flying low means they aren’t too exciting; per Wikipedia, stratus clouds are flat, hazy, and featureless low-level clouds. So, even though stratus clouds aren’t going to bring any excitement by way of storms, swirling winds, or pressure systems – they are the first things you’ll fly through as you’re rising up to more exciting altitudes.
What Does the Cloud Mean for My Business?
With that said, let’s take this theoretical flight through the clouds and relate it back to your business.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about the cloud for a while. What does it mean to your company? What’s the competitive advantage? Everyone else seems to be talking about it and most companies are using the cloud in some capacity, but is it even worth it? It’s a daunting thing for you to consider with your current IT infrastructure and staff. For example, a migration to the cloud might be a costly and time-consuming move and one that brings a certain level of risk along with it. All these things can make cloud strategy a perpetual back-burner item for many IT organizations. At OST, we’re here to tell you there’s another way to think about your cloud strategy: Spend some time at the stratus level to get some experience first, set the autopilot and see how the cloud looks from your business’s perspective. You don’t have to solve a digital business transformation all at once. There’s significant opportunity to knock out some of these less exciting challenges with the cloud. Backups and DR serve as a great example to focus on.
Backing up vs. The Cloud
Maybe your company is struggling to get rid of an aging tape backup system due to shrinking operational budgets. Let’s face it: backing up to tape does work (most of the time), and it’s cheap. Sometimes it’s hard to argue with that at the executive level – but tape has a significant overhead and is cumbersome to administer. Alternatively, a forklift upgrade and migration to a shiny new disk-based backup system is a large effort and can crush your annual IT budget. With these things in mind, it’s all too easy to continue grinding along on an aging tape-based backup architecture. Although many organizations don’t consider it in these situations, there is absolutely a use-case for leveraging the cloud in this type of scenario.
For example, most of today’s popular backup products natively integrate with cloud services, like Azure Blob or Amazon S3 storage. You never know, it may be easier than you’ve ever thought to check “offsite backups” off your to-do list. From a cost perspective, things are even more appealing. With cloud storage costs as low as $.002 per GB (Azure cool blob storage), you can spend about $102 per month per 50TB of data backed up to the cloud. Even without an existing hybrid cloud architecture, it’s as simple as an agent download on one of your servers to get started. Although, you may need to plan on bumping to the next tier with your internet provider to account for the boost in traffic!
The other end of the data protection conversation brings us to DR. After all, you can have the most reliable backups in the world, but in an extended outage due to fire, natural disaster, or a storage array failure, your traditional restore methods are likely to blow well past your documented recovery time objective.
IT organizations today solve DR in a variety of ways: Use of a co-lo data center, an offsite office location, storage array replication, 3rd party software solutions… You get the point. But have you ever considered turning the cloud into your DR site? Even if you already have a rock-solid DR strategy, you could be spending tens of thousands of dollars a month in co-lo data center costs that could be spent on a variety of other things.
Today’s cloud providers offer a more viable DR option than many give credit for. There are software solutions such as Zerto, Veeam, and others that help you replicate your virtual machines to the cloud provider of your choice. You can even test failovers and verify your servers operate as expected in the public cloud. Additionally, newer cloud-native offerings such as Azure Site Recovery and VMware Cloud on AWS now provide feature rich DR options to consider: replicating your on-prem VMs as Azure virtual machines or VMware on AWS, respectively. With solutions like these in place, you’re not only ready for disaster, you’re ready for a cloud migration as part of your DR plan!
Finding Your Cloud Solution
These DR and backup services in the cloud can be low hanging fruit for many organizations. A free trial, a group of POC servers to try backing up or replicating, and before you know it you’ll feel comfortable in the cloud and find yourself rich with ideas on how the cloud can help you solve the next challenge for your business. OST can help vet these stratus solutions out for you, and then lead the conversations as your business continues to form a more comprehensive cloud strategy; building on each success along the way. We’ll help you determine which cloud provider is right for you, and which solutions make sense for your IT infrastructure and your business.
The higher you go, the more chance there is for some turbulence – but you can rely on OST to help make your flight through the clouds a smooth transition for everyone.