The recent Google cloud outage may cause some enterprise customers to think more about multi-cloud redundancy, but cloud consultants aren't expecting an immediate, dramatic effect on cloud strategies.
The cloud provider's four-hour disruption on June 2 resulted in what Google referred to as "slow performance and elevated error rates" across a number of Google services, including Google Cloud Platform (GCP), YouTube, Gmail and Google Drive. Google attributed the issue to an incorrectly applied configuration change.
Outages, while unusual, hit the major cloud platforms from time to time. In an April 2018 incident, Microsoft cloud users in Europe were unable to access their Azure and Office 365 accounts. And an Amazon Simple Storage Service outage in 2017 sparked concerns among CIOs and channel partners.
Such outages raise questions regarding customer dependency on a single cloud provider. Those questions generally lead to a discussion of redundancy: How can organizations keep cloud applications and workloads functioning in the event of an outage?
Grant Kirkwood, CTO at Unitas Global, a hybrid and managed public cloud provider based in Los Angeles, said clients have a couple of options when it comes to cloud redundancy. First, they can seek redundancy within a cloud provider, replicating and load balancing across multiple regions to ensure availability.
This approach will work, provided a cloud provider's outage is regional and doesn't take down the entire platform. The second option spreads the risk across two cloud providers. An organization could tap AWS as its East Coast cloud resource and use GCP in the western U.S., Kirkwood said.
The two-cloud approach provides another level of assurance but comes at the expense of convenience. Individual cloud vendors make it easy to set up resiliency within a cloud platform, with amenities such as multi-region copies and load balancing across regions.
Achieving that type of interoperability proves more challenging across different clouds, however. "Trying to do that across two or more different cloud providers, you lose that service-level integration, and it becomes a lot harder," Kirkwood said.
Siki Giunta, managing director and global strategy lead of Journey to Cloud at Accenture, said she believes enterprises will pick one main public cloud and possibly a second one, noting a lack of software that lets workloads fly from one cloud to another.
Eating one's broccoli
Public cloud outages, however, have an upside. Giunta said disruptions force cloud providers to "eat their broccoli" and go back to harden their environments.
Chris GarveyExecutive vice president of product, 2nd Watch
"It is actually good … when a cloud provider goes back and revisits all their controls and all their components," she said, calling such introspection "an element of scalability and growth."
That said, cloud outages linger as a source of concern. "Clearly, having redundancy across clouds is something that is becoming increasingly important," noted Chris Garvey, executive vice president of product at 2nd Watch, a cloud consultancy based in Seattle. He said the method an organization uses to achieve redundancy will depend on the criticality of a given workload.
Kirkwood said a couple of customers have asked Unitas Global to provide resiliency across different clouds. To do this, the company builds a connectivity hub in a third-party data center, which serves as the on-ramp to connect to multiple cloud services.
Customers expressing interest in connectivity hubs for greater resiliency are "pretty rare at this point," Kirkwood said. He said most customers ready to tap more than one cloud are looking for cost savings -- one cloud provider may provide a particular service at a lower cost than another -- or the ability to access services on a particular platform perceived as more advanced. As for the latter, Kirkwood provided the example of an enterprise that wants to make its AWS data lake accessible to Google's AI and machine learning tools.
"It's mostly driven by cost or capabilities," he said.
NetApp taps partners to sell new SME-focused product
Storage vendor NetApp has released a new all-flash storage offering that the company said was developed for channel partners.
Unveiled on Thursday, the NetApp AFF C190 system targets small to midsize enterprise customers, a segment the vendor said it has not traditionally pursued. The product, which uses NetApp OnTap data management software, is geared at the $25,000 or less price range.
AFF C190 "brings NetApp into a new price point in the market. We have typically focused in price bands that are more enterprise aligned. … It really opens up a segment of the market that we have not been aggressively going after before," said Jeff McCullough, vice president of Americas partner sales at NetApp.
While the targeted customer for the product is small to midsize enterprises, the AFF C190 doesn't preclude large enterprise customers that could use the system as a remote office/branch office (ROBO) platform, McCullough said. "We see the opportunity scaling from small to midsize enterprise customers upwards of large enterprises looking for a distributed flash platform for their business," he noted.
McCullough said the company built the AFF C190 product specifically for NetApp partners to sell. About 85% of NetApp's global business runs through the channel, he said.
To streamline the channel sales process, the AFF C190 is available in an Express Pack, which means it is preconfigured and prepriced. "This product is part of our Express Pack family … allowing partners to go and sell as fast as they want," McCullough said.
Glenn Dekhayser, field CTO of Red8, a cloud and data center infrastructure provider based in Costa Mesa, Calif., said the AFF C190 is significant because it targets smaller businesses, yet "has all the features of the biggest, most expensive all-flash array that NetApp sells."
For small businesses, he said, "your job is to compete with the big boys. Even though you are small, customers don't care. They have the same expectations for a small business that they do for a big one. … In order for a small business to make it, they have to be able to do basically all of the things that the big boys do. This enables that, at least at the data level."
Like McCullough, Dekhayser noted that the NetApp AFF C190 systems scale to enterprise customers with ROBOs. "This isn't just a small business, commercial play; this is a play for the enterprise, as well as for distributed data, which there is no shortage of."
Palo Alto Networks taps MSSPs
Palo Alto Networks has tapped a handful of channel companies as managed security service provider (MSSP) partners for its recently launched Prisma Public Cloud offering.
Participants of the Prisma Public Cloud MSSP partner program include 2nd Watch; Armor, a cloud security solutions provider in Dallas; Lightstream, a WAN services company in Salt Lake City; and RestorePoint, a managed services provider in Alpharetta, Ga.
Palo Alto Networks unveiled Prisma Public Cloud in May, as part of its Prisma cloud security suite. Prisma Public Cloud, which incorporates technology acquired in the company's 2018 purchase of RedLock, provides compliance monitoring across multiple public cloud platforms.
2nd Watch's Garvey said his company is wrapping managed services around Prisma Public Cloud's governance and compliance function. He said those services will be focused on medium to larger businesses that struggle with standardization and consistency issues as their cloud use scales across accounts and teams. Such companies find it difficult to maintain adherence against their own cost control policies or industry-specific policies, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.
Garvey said 2nd Watch's services use Prisma Public Cloud to audit customers' cloud accounts and workloads against their own or industry policies. The company can then make changes to the customer's cloud environment based on the audit report or provide the report to clients so they can make the changes.
2nd Watch's Prisma Public Cloud MSSP services will be provided as an add-on to existing managed services contracts or sold as a stand-alone service, Garvey said.
- Endpoint and network security vendor Sophos has acquired Rook Security, a managed detection and response (MDR) services provider based in Indianapolis. Sophos said it will deliver the MDR services via a network of some 47,000 channel partners worldwide.
- In another managed security services transaction, Terra Verde Security LLC, an MSSP based in Phoenix, has merged with TruShield Security Solutions and Sword & Shield Enterprise Security. The move comes through a strategic relationship between Terra Verde Security and Sunstone Partners, a growth equity firm. The merged companies now operate as Avertium, which will keep its headquarters in Phoenix.
- NetObjex, an automation platform provider, is targeting systems integrators with a new partner program. The NetObjex Advantage Partner Program offers tools and benefits for selling its platform into the enterprise market.
- Cyberprotection vendor Acronis named Acronis Emerging Markets (AEM) as a master distributor in Latin American and African markets. AEM will market and distribute Acronis products in these regions, as well as provide partner training and support, the vendor said.
- Aerohive Networks, a cloud-managed networking vendor, took the wraps off a new partner portal. The portal is built on Salesforce Partner Communities and provides a range of tools, including automated onboarding processes for partners' new customers, Aerohive said.
- Fidelis Cybersecurity has revamped its partner program. The program is now structured with three tiers -- Authorized, Premier and Elite -- with incremental benefits. The company also said it hired Eddie DeWolfe as its vice president of global channels and alliances.
- Sparkhound, a digital solutions firm, said it has completed an Office 365 conversion for Albemarle Corp. The cloud project involved a shift from Lotus Notes and WebEx platforms to Microsoft's cloud services.
- OneLogin, a unified access management vendor, said it expanded its roster of distributors. New partners include Israel-based Symphony Solutions, Finland's Nordicmind, France's Miel, and British distributors Atlas Identity and Nuvias.
- US Signal, a data center services provider in Grand Rapids, Mich., is starting work on a second data center in the Detroit metropolitan area.
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