One of the enablers for smooth lift and shift workload movement is the ability to use similar underlying services in the public cloud environment as with on-premise. And even with hybrid applications running in the public cloud or on-prem, they also need to be architected in such a manner to allow easy interoperability across the hybrid landscape, and consistency across the environments makes hybrid operations so much easier.
Essentially there are three ways you can do this. You can either use an overlay file storage service, a native file storage service or a partner-delivered native file storage service.
Overlay file storage services were one of the early shared file storage options in public cloud. This typically consists of a VM that embeds the functionality of a file server and presents a network file sharing interface (such as NFS or SMB) to clients that can access it over the network. In the back end, the overlay service uses underlying native block and/or object storage service available natively within the public cloud environment. Popular examples of overlay file storage services include SoftNAS, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, and GlusterFS.
As the name suggests, native file storage services are file storage services that are available natively within the public cloud service provider’s ecosystem. These are delivered, billed, and supported just like other services from the public cloud provider. One of the key benefits of native file storage services is that that they are deeply integrated infrastructure up with the other resources used for the provider. This minimizes integration and connectivity issues and ensures a low-latency, high-throughput connectivity between the file storage service and other resources. Examples of native file storage services in public cloud include Amazon Elastic File System, Azure Files (Microsoft also acquired Avere Systems in ‘18), and Google Elastifile Cloud File Services (Google recently acquired Elastifile in ‘19).
Partner-delivered native file storage services are the most recent model in the market, where the file storage service is available to customers from within the environment of the public cloud ecosystem — just like other native services from the public cloud service provider. However, the file storage service is openly based on technology delivered by a partner provider. The billing and support may, in theory, come either directly from the public cloud provider or from the partner technology provider.
Partner-delivered native file storage services bring together a number of benefits to end customers —the ease of access and use by virtue of being within the public cloud providers core workflows and the specialized technology expertise of the technology provider. The pioneer example of this new partner enabled file storage service is the Azure NetApp Files, delivered by NetApp and available within the Azure public cloud ecosystem.
NetApp has cemented itself as one of the most popular file storage services for public cloud adoption. Between Azure NetApp Files, Cloud Volumes for Google Cloud, Cloud Volumes for AWS, and Cloud Volumes ONTAP, NetApp is the obvious choice for hybrid and cloud data sharing. NetApp Cloud Volumes Service provides durable and high performance NFS and SMB including enterprise-grade snapshots that creates point-in-time representations of data and applications in less than a second. Cloud Volumes also provides many other data management capabilities such as replication, backup and recovery, multiprotocol access, and tiering.
Here’s what Google had to say about NetApp.
“At the heart of our partnership, Dean said, is the idea that Google Cloud customers shouldn’t notice the difference between Cloud Volumes Service and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes Service should exist in the same platform with the same interface. Google has integrated it into NetApp’s console, billing and all, so that an existing Google customer “wouldn’t know it was operated by NetApp.”
And for the last 20 years, Dean Hildebrand, Technical Director at Google Cloud, has worked on parallel file systems and HPC, even within the NFSv4 working group, standardizing the latest drafts of the NFS protocol. NetApp received Technology Partner of the Year for Engineering earlier this year.
File storage services can be expected to become first-class services within all major public cloud environments. IDC expects file storage services available within the major public cloud ecosystems to grow in the coming years and become an important component of the storage portfolio at all major public cloud providers. For existing applications moving to public cloud, this reduces the pressure on application architects and owners to re-architect and rewrite the application to use object storage on the cloud. This also allows for interoperability with other on-premises applications, enabling easier hybrid operations.
For more information, download the IDC White paper – Growth of File Storage Services in the Public Cloud.