Software-defined infrastructures that integrate hybrid, multi-cloud strategies have become central to successful digital transformation efforts. As enterprises across industries execute technology modernization initiatives to address the requirements of a constantly changing and increasingly complex business landscape, CIOs and other technology leaders are developing IT architectures, investment strategies, and staffing models to manage the complex array of legacy infrastructures, on-premises data centers as well as private- and multiple- public-cloud resources without sacrificing performance, reliability, or control.
To support this strategy, analysts at International Data Corporation (IDC), expect organizations around the world to spend $1.0 trillion a year on related hardware, software, storage and services by 2024.
The key to managing this immense investment in next-generation enterprise technologies will revolve around establishing software-defined cloud (SDC) platforms that enable the integrated management of these resources.
We sat down with Tony Gaughan, Chief Technology Office at RSTOR, to learn more about the role SDCs can play in optimizing data management across heterogeneous infrastructures. Here is what he had to say.
Q: How do software defined clouds (SDCs) change the way enterprises and technology executives think about data in today’s heterogeneous computing environment?
Tony Gaughan: The days of having siloed data locked in isolated servers or scattered across cloud resources are behind us. As organizations across industries look for ways to harness the full power of data-driven decision making and optimized data processing, leaders are looking for a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing their data.
Consequently, people are looking for ways they can access data—from any environment—as if it’s local and with a flexible capability to make the data global so everyone within their organization can participate in managing and acting on the same data set.
Virtualization of multiple cloud environments that are enabled by SDCs offer a clear path to optimizing the ability of enterprises to access diverse cloud and on-premises resources. It lays the foundation for facilitating technology modernization without forcing people to make physical hardware moves that are rigid and costly. By moving to a software-based — or virtual — framework for managing enterprise resources — like storage, networking and compute capacity — we can abstract the movement and management of data from physical infrastructures that are owned by organizations, or that have been pushed to cloud service providers (CSPs). As a result, SDCs deliver critically important benefits in managing data on an enterprise-wide scale: simplicity and flexibility.
RSTOR has leveraged the principles of SDC to create a layer of independence for data—regardless of where it lives—to make it easily shared and integrated across cloud and on-premises environments. This has made it possible for RSTOR Space to provide the benefits of on-premises-like performance combined with global visibility.
Q: How does it work when you have workloads operating in cloud service provider environments that you don’t control?
Tony Gaughan: Maintaining control of data and having easy access from any of the existing cloud environments is incredibly important.
Users need to leverage all of the compute resources of the CSP and still be able to move data out when the data needs to be shared across multiple SDC environments. RSTOR Space is a cloud-based storage environment that gives organizations the ability to manage data—wherever it resides—and then make that data transparently visible and available to the compute resources that need to act upon it.
This is important because many enterprises have multiple layers of infrastructure that they have to manage. By providing the flexibility to use some services in one cloud environment and another set of services from another cloud environment RSTOR Space eliminates the hurdles that prevent data movement from one environment to another.
This enables business and technology leaders to access the data where it’s most relevant and appropriate in an automated and policy-driven manner. This is important for ensuring data compliance in global operations. However, it is also critical for organizations to have a comprehensive understanding of the value that their data is delivering, especially when it comes to supporting decision-making processes. RSTOR Space allows data to appear local to wherever it’s being accessed—anywhere in the world.
This approach to managing enterprise information resources also allows organizations to place data in close proximity to the actual compute resources that will process the data. This is important for operations that are sensitive to latency. But when it is combined with our free data replication services, it also eliminates the traditional overheads associated with egress fees that can accrue when organizations want the same data to be processed in multiple clouds—or on-premises—environments.
With RSTOR Space data can be easily transacted within multiple cloud environments seamlessly. It enables data mobility and portability, which has one of the most vexing challenges in today’s hybrid, multi-cloud infrastructure environment.
RSTOR’s global network fabric enables fast and efficient data movement and allows us to position data near where the compute requires it. This gives us an advantage in terms of eliminating the overhead of latency which typically creates problems in accessing data, particularly when it’s a remote distance.
We’ve eliminated that latency, allowing those compute environments to transact as if the data is local to them which makes that data shareable. We can do this in multiple CSP environments.
Q: How is it that you’re able to get in and out of multiple CSP environments so quickly?
Tony Gaughan: The RSTOR network integrates with all CSP environments. We have direct connect arrangements with the CSPs around the world, which gives us very fast on and off ramps. This is critical in terms of being able to move data in and out of different data processing environments. This is a capability that we have enhanced with a new product we have rolled out called RSTOR Transporter, which makes data movement completely transparent to the end-users who are working with applications, executing transactions, analyzing processes or making critical decisions based on data that is scattered all around the globe.
To achieve the goals of easily moving data from on-premise to multiple cloud environments, we utilize a simple source and destination process that allows RSTOR to move data very effectively. This is possible because of our direct connects relationships with CSPs in multiple geographic areas. The direct connects allow us to pass on the significant —sometimes complete—discounts on egress fees. So in addition to simplifying the process of moving data between environments, we’ve also been able to offer our customers a way to reduce egress costs. It’s a win-win situation for customers and for the processes they operate.
Q: What about existing investments made in on-premises environments? Can they be integrated into the RSTOR Transporter solution?
Tony Gaughan: Absolutely. RSTOR works with any network connection that an enterprise may have in place. As long as you can connect to a source and destination endpoint, RSTOR Transporter can facilitate the movement of data transparently between on-premises infrastructures and cloud environments. This can be accomplished by establishing traditional cross-connects via the internet or through some level of peering.
Moreover, we can establish this abstracted connectivity in a risk-adjusted manner.
When moving data from one environment to another, making sure it is secure is a high priority—both when the data is at rest and when the data is moving through the network. We have hardened the environment to ensure there is no external access or malicious content entering the connected and virtualized resources throughout the data lifecycle across the enterprise.
To better explain this let’s look at object environments. In object environments, the security layer is through access keys and secret keys which keep data from being exposed outside of an environment. RSTOR fully supports this layer and then builds on it.
Transporter is designed so that our customers can maintain control over the secure layers of their data. We never share any data on our network which is always fully encrypted. This makes it extremely difficult for bad actors to have a clear attack path to data on the RSTOR network.
When data is at rest in RSTOR Space, we provide customers with their own encryption keys to manage the hardware security module (HSM)—the physical computing device that safeguards and manages digital keys.
Q: How, specifically, does the integration of RSTOR Space and Transporter solutions elevate the opportunity to analyze and engage in enhanced decision-making?
Tony Gaughan: By integrating these two solutions, RSTOR is able to help organizations address the thorny problem of analyzing data sets that are siloed in systems that have not—until now—been able to interoperate effectively. RSTOR provides a mechanism that gives our clients visibility across data sets no matter where they are being maintained. This enables our clients to actually see where data is at any point in time, how that data is being interacted with, what applications are interacting with it, and what applications require access to specific data sets.
This higher level of visibility helps our clients determine the best strategies for harmonizing data and helps shape decisions around digital transformations that affect the entire enterprise.
It is a value proposition that is particularly pertinent now. Hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments will define how people access, interact and share data. As a result, making decisions that ensure data is free to move from one infrastructure environment to another while being easily available for access in an appropriately governed manner on a global scale is a giant step forward.
Moreover, RSTOR has designed the solution to preserve existing investments organizations have already made in infrastructure and data architectures while providing a path to next-generation private and public-cloud technologies through abstraction, virtualization and automation. It is an approach that does not lock organizations into any prescribed path forward. Enterprises can continue to use what they are familiar with, but at the same time, start to take advantage of new technologies by integrating RSTOR Space and Transporter into their data management operations.