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How To Burst To The Cloud With Data On-Premises

Open source solutions enable enterprises to be cloud-agnostic and avoid vendor lock-in.

I had the opportunity to speak with Haoyuan (HY) Li, Founder and CEO of Alluxio. HY was a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley AMPLab when he built the beginnings of Alluxio (originally called Tachyon). His goal was to build the next-generation data analytics stack.

We spoke three weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown in the U.S. and I’ve seen headlines the last two days where cloud volumes are up 440% and Azure cloud volume is up 775%. HY did say that Alluxio is seeing an uptick in demand for their solutions.

What’s driving demand?

Website traffic for certain businesses is up. A company like Instacart has started hiring many more people as demand has grown. Amazon has delayed delivery for non-essential goods. When there is this type of demand spike, there are two solutions, one is over-provisioning, the other is migrating to the cloud, including a hybrid cloud.

The other thing driving demand is efficiency. Efficiency is a function of business agility and the cost of doing business. If you have the proper cloud infrastructure your development speed can be much faster than before. Leveraging a hybrid cloud environment can reduce costs. As such, we're seeing more aggressive migration to the cloud and hybrid cloud solutions.

Making The Transition

Enterprises have been adopting cloud infrastructure for a number of years to deal with seasonal spikes in demand. With the coronavirus, companies need to be able to meet unexpected spikes in demand.

One way to meet demand is overprovisioning, having the extra capacity in an on-premises environment. This is expensive and wasteful. The other way is leveraging the cloud which is why more enterprise businesses are migrating to the cloud.

Data is the other driver. It’s valuable and a critical strategic asset to companies. The bigger the company, the more strategic the data. As such, large companies want to keep the data to themselves -- on-premise. But at the same time, they still want to leverage the compute-side elasticity of the public cloud.

Hybrid multi-cloud is a natural architecture that keeps the data on-premise in a fully-controlled environment and enables you to run compute in the cloud. A classic hybrid cloud architecture enables the accomplishment of both goals. Avoid overpaid provisioning while having the velocity of compute in the cloud.

Industries Leading Transition

Alluxio does a lot of business with the leading retailers worldwide. Ecommerce websites are very data-driven, they collect and analyze a lot of data and they are using it to customize offerings and to improve UX and CX. They’ve been using hybrid cloud technology for a while and the larger retailers, (i.e. Alibaba) have their own private cloud and their margins are better on their cloud offering than their retail business.

Banks also have a lot of data and still keep a lot of data on-premises but they are making strategic moves to the cloud. Given their desire to keep some data on-prem, banks are adopting hybrid multi-cloud solutions.

The Development Bank of Singapore has presented its architecture of the hybrid cloud. They view their data as strategic and dictated it remains on-premise. Sometimes they want to burst as they compute into the cloud, leveraging the data on-premise securely and efficiently.

That's how solutions like data extraction will gain adoption helping users automatically and efficiently manage their data when they move to a hybrid cloud solution. They can leverage all of the built-in data tools from public cloud vendors.

Data orchestration solutions help to address regulatory, compliance, and security. Security enterprise features like encryption, authorization, and authentication are built into the orchestration.

Avoiding Lock-In

This is a strategic point for every company. All three of the public cloud vendors are offering valuable tools for data analysis and are trying to get customers “locked-in” from day one. Developers become familiar with particular clouds and their expertise typically resides in one cloud. While there are similarities between the solutions of what cloud A and cloud B offer, the nuances of accessing those solutions differ by cloud.

Developers want to use what they already know. CIOs and CTOs want to remain vendor neutral with a hybrid cloud strategy.

There are several solutions in the market that enable enterprises to remain cloud-agnostic. Once is Kubernetes, container orchestration that works in any cloud. Alluxio is a data orchestration tool that works in any cloud. Terraform is a provisioning tool that cloud-agnostic. Developers can use the same script to provision to any cloud. Solutions like this combined together can non-trivially alleviate the obstacles to a hybrid cloud strategy. A few of the more progressive enterprises are already pursuing this strategy and are getting it into production.

The Future

Public clouds are going to keep beating each other up trying to lock-in. HY sees 33% of enterprises being locked into a single cloud. Another 33% will refuse to be locked into a single technology vendor that can choke them and will look for cloud-agnostic solutions like Kubernetes, Alluxio, and Terraform. These are likely to be Fortune 100 and 500 companies. The final 33% will pursue a hybrid multi-cloud solutions and attempt to strategically optimize workflows for clouds with the best toolsets for their needs.

HY doubts that we’ll see one public cloud provider taking over since they pursue different strategies in different regions. Market share in China varies greatly from the U.S. and the European market is very different than Japan and southeast Asia.

This results in very large enterprises using different clouds in different geographies and for different sectors of business.

Key Takeaway

Since developers care about getting things done and having fun, HY recommends developers explore open source technologies like Kubernetes, Alluxio, and Terraform and provide their feedback and thoughts in different communities.


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