We have recently been working with clients that have plans to leverage cloud technology and innovations but have concerns about moving their content to the cloud. For one client, we looked into Azure Stack, which allows for extending the capabilities of the Azure ecosystem to be hosted within a datacenter, as a starting point for leveraging more cloud technologies. This post will discuss our thoughts and how our HBase content services platform can be run on premise and leveraging the Azure Stack offering.
Azure Stack – What is it?
The Azure Stack is a hybrid cloud solution for managing and hosting data in a datacenter, and leveraging Microsoft Azure’s infrastructure management toolset to support it. Azure Stack makes it easy to set up internal, multi-region datacenters for clients who are looking to simplify their management toolset as some of their infrastructure is moved into the cloud. By leveraging the Azure ecosystem of services, clients can confidently move forward with their plans to move some of their infrastructure to Azure, but to keep some of the Azure infrastructure in their own data centers.
As we have posted in the past, by taking advantage of TSG’s OpenContent Management Suite on top of HBase, users have the flexibility to leverage some or all of the capabilities of the cloud along-side with mirroring some of that infrastructure in their own data center. For clients that are looking to augment their existing data center with the capabilities of the cloud, Azure Stack is a logical choice. One big area of this that we think makes sense is to leverage Azure Stack as an object store.
Object Store – best for both on-premise and cloud
The majority of clients we see with legacy ECMs on premise are using a large NAS/SAN to host all of their content for the ECM. NAS/SAN file storage has been around for so long that it is ingrained in IT and consumer domains, but as the amount of content has exploded, the costs for supporting and scaling the NAS can become a bottleneck. One of our major predictions for 2020 for ECM was that Object Stores would be getting smarter. Giving the content to an object store and managing a key rather than a complicated network drive structure will free administrators from worrying about managing storage. We also are predicting that more content will be managed by the object store with links to multiple applications and ECM technologies rather than one ECM system to manage all content.
While we have had some of our clients be successful deploying their own on premise object stores like the Hitachi Object Store, the costs and support associated with it can be high (especially if there are future plans to potentially move to Azure Storage in the cloud eventually.) We have also seen clients with success in leveraging a cloud object store like AWS S3 or Azure Storage. These clients have fully embraced putting all of their content in the cloud.
We see Azure Stack is a an innovative way for clients to get an Object Store without the up-front investment of purchasing a dedicated S3 appliance. Azure Stack Hub Storage is a set of cloud storage services consistent with the services provided by Azure Storage. By leveraging Azure Stacks Hub Storage, clients get to keep their content in their own data center, but take advantage of the scale and cost savings that an object store provides. If/when the time comes that a client would like to transition some or all of that data off premise, moving it into Azure Storage hosted in the cloud is a seamless experience. We see this being useful for pushing content that is accessed most often close to where the data is needed, and potentially moving the less “hot” data off to the even less expensive archive object stores that the cloud offers.
HBase for Content Management on Azure Stack
Similar to our reference architecture for Azure, Azure Stack would provide a proven infrastructure for users who aren’t quite ready to make the jump of putting all of their content into the cloud, but also want to position themselves to be able to move to the cloud quickly and confidently in the future.
Initially, Azure Stack doesn’t have support for HDInsight, but we would anticipate that this would be added as Microsoft continues to invest and offer their services within your own data center with Azure Stack. Azure HDInsight makes it simple to spin up a fully managed HBase instance, which for our clients that are in the cloud makes it simple to deploy, support, and scale their HBase instance. For deployments in Azure Stack for now, we would recommend installing HBase on Azure VMs which will make the transition to HDInsight simple (whether on-prem or in the cloud).
For clients wanting to leverage the cloud management capabilities of the Azure but not totally comfortable about moving data and documents to the cloud, the Azure Stack can be and interesting on-premise alternative that provides benefits in terms of cloud management while giving clients an efficient way to leverage modern capabilities like HBase and Azure Blog Storage.
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