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A Guide to Managing and Scaling Your Unstructured Data in a Hybrid Cloud

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Is the hybrid cloud the future?

For an increasing number of organizations, the answer is a definite yes.

Fueling this trend are a number of factors, including a desire for greater flexibility, cost-effective ways to scale on demand, and reduced or waning concerns about security and governance of data in the cloud.

Most of all, organizations are increasingly looking for more effective ways to put unstructured data to work.

On this page, we’ll be taking a look at some of the ways, and the reasons why, organizations are employing unstructured data and the hybrid cloud to make smarter decisions.

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Opportunities and challenges in unstructured data

At any given moment of any given day, billions of connected devices are creating data.

The vast majority of this data is unstructured—information with no predefined data model. Data like emails, Word documents, photos, and audio files.

For organizations, this steady flow of unstructured data provides both opportunities and challenges. The opportunities include the ability to use advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to:

  • Surface insights into customer wants, needs, and usage of products
  • Find operational efficiencies and better use of critical resources
  • Pinpoint new revenue possibilities and deliver better products and services to customers

Yet, there are challenges that come with these, including the need to effectively store unstructured data and make it accessible for analytics, while still maintaining proper governance and security controls.

That’s where a hybrid approach comes in

Embracing a hybrid cloud strategy can provide organizations with a remedy to both of these challenges.

The ability to scale as needed, combined with being able to maintain governance and security on-premises, allows for greater flexibility in how unstructured data is managed and put to work.

Beyond solving for storage and management, the hybrid cloud can also deliver:

  • Cost savings for an organization that is able to continue using infrastructure they’ve already invested in
  • Increase productivity from the ability to scale while also allowing teams to work with the tools they are already familiar with

The importance of optimization

With a hybrid cloud strategy, optimizing both data and applications is critical to success.

Even unstructured data, which by its nature is disorganized, needs to be properly cleansed to remove noise and sensitive details. It also needs to be managed in a way that makes it available to every party within an organization that needs to use it.

Meanwhile, applications an organization relies on must be assessed for use in a cloud environment. This is because many of those applications may not be suited for the cloud or could be replaced by better performing apps. You can learn more about application optimization and modernization in our whitepaper on the subject.

At a high level, the benefits of having an application optimized for the cloud include:

  • Elasticity from apps being able to scale with increased use and demand, then scale back down automatically as usage decreases

  • Better use of resources, as well as a substantial reduction of IT costs

  • Greater flexibility in how teams work, including freedom to customize, utilize automation, and make applications mobile

Without optimization of both data and applications, a hybrid cloud strategy risks failing.

Advanced tools like AI and ML are only as effective as the data they have access to—and their ability to utilize the right data—and a reliance on legacy applications will fail to deliver the benefits of the cloud side of a hybrid approach.

Creating a hybrid cloud strategy

As with the implementation of any new platform or technology, the process of transitioning to a hybrid cloud approach requires a solid roadmap. That roadmap should start with a thorough assessment of an organization’s technical maturity.

Boiled down for these pages, a technical maturity assessment is necessary because without a system for tracking, measuring, and improving a hybrid cloud solution, you can’t solve technical problems. At best, you may just put out individual fires. Through the assessment, you can identify opportunities for improvement and guide your organization toward implementing the right solutions, including processes and best practices.

You can learn more about implementing an assessment in our eBook The Redapt Technical Maturity Framework.

Following a technical maturity assessment, the next step is for an organization to understand what it is trying to accomplish by implementing a hybrid cloud. This includes identifying initial projects that would benefit from the hybrid cloud, ways to measure success, and how much the organization is willing to invest in the platform.

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A note on finding the right partner

Creating and implementing a hybrid cloud strategy is often outside the reach of organizations. This can be due to a lack of in-house expertise, unavailable resources to spend the time on developing a strategy, or both.

When looking for a technology provider to partner with, we recommend asking the following four questions:

  • How experienced are they in implementing a hybrid cloud solution, including app modernization?
  • Do they provide end-to-end support?
  • What is their methodology, and how will they enable your technical team?
  • Does their framework for hybrid cloud adoption include assessing your needs, helping you develop a proof-of-concept, and charting out a clear path with no budgetary surprises?

Managing hybrid cloud performance

Once a hybrid cloud solution is up and running, managing its performance becomes the focus.

Without focusing on managing performance, it can be easy to over-provision resources, miss opportunities due to disorganized data, and fail to properly follow guidance and security protocols. For unstructured data, this means having the capabilities in place to organize data for AI and ML use. That includes:
  • Data lakes with governance and security protocols in place to make specific data available for specific uses
  • Monitoring and reporting tools to provide visibility to workloads running in the cloud
  • Ongoing cost monitoring to avoid runaway cloud expenditures

Scaling smartly

Traditional scaling of storage means having systems in place to expand capacity as needed. While the public cloud can alleviate some of this burden, it can also be expensive to fully rely on.

There are a number of scaling out storage solutions available to meet capacity needs. One we often recommend is Dell EMC’s Isilon Cloud One FS, which, when paired with a cloud provider such as the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), can help an organization quickly and effectively scale as needed.

For hybrid cloud platforms, Isilon provides some key benefits. Among them:

  • Cost-effective scaling where storage is only added as needed, then removed once peak usage has passed
  • Tiered pricing that includes capacity for high-intensive workloads as well as deep storage for historical data
  • Choice in providers without being tied down to any one platform

Most of all, Isilon is software-defined storage, which means it can easily be applied to on-premises and the cloud without the need for expensive hardware upgrades. Because of this, Isilon is perfectly tailored for the hybrid cloud.

To sum …

Unstructured data is only going to increase in the coming years, as more and more connected devices—and people using them—continue to skyrocket.

For many organizations, a hybrid cloud solution can be key to keeping up with the flood of information as well as putting it to use with advanced technologies like AI and ML.

In order to effectively adopt a hybrid cloud solution, organizations need to:

  • Conduct a technical maturity analysis to identify goals of implementing a hybrid cloud, as well as their current capabilities to do so
  • Find and work with a solutions partner if need be
  • Utilize tools such as Dell EMC’s Isilon Cloud One FS in order to effectively manage hybrid cloud performance while ensuring governance and security protocols are in place

To get started on your own organization’s journey to the hybrid cloud, contact one of Redapt’s experts today.

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