Cloud with Confidence: Infrastructure abstraction for always-on applications in Microsoft Azure

We’ve all heard the promises of cloud- and hybrid cloud-based IT infrastructures—agility, availability, and flexibility—pretty much the whole gamut of positive “—ility’s!”  And most of them aren’t far off—properly deployed, a hybrid cloud infrastructure can:

  • Provide flexibility in the location of data—you can determine data placement specific to your company’s security and governance requirements while leveraging lower-cost cloud tiers for less sensitive data;
  • Ensure elastic resources—handle spikes in demand via the scalable, infrastructure-as-a-services (IaaS) model allowing pay-per-use for on-demand storage and compute services;
  • Promote portability of data, applications and services to organizations that need worldwide deployment of their infrastructure;
  • Deliver disaster recovery, backup, and archiving services by leveraging a public cloud with cost-effective storage options for long-term retention of archived data.

Of course, the key words here are “properly deployed.”  If only it were that easy!  There are a whole lot of reasons why we can’t simply wave a magic wand and suddenly our infrastructure is blossoming with hybrid cloud goodies. Among those reasons are the complexity, cost, and the planning it takes to get started.

But there is help! First of all, choose the right cloud vendor; Microsoft Azure is an excellent choice as part of a hybrid cloud strategy. Not only does Azure offer a range of hybrid cloud connectivity solutions, it also provides an integrated Microsoft environment and a large choice of Microsoft and third-party deployment tools.

Secondly (and we’re partial to this), employ a software-defined framework that abstracts critical applications from their underlying infrastructure. Abstraction enables enterprise-grade business continuity, performance optimization, and orchestration and agility across all platforms—physical, virtual and cloud.  We’re talking about Veritas InfoScale—software that’s used by thousands of IT organizations for availability and application deployment across any OS, Hypervisor, HCI platform or cloud provider (Figure 1).

Figure1.pngFigure 1. InfoScale completely abstracts applications from their underlying infrastructure

How does abstraction help in hybrid cloud deployments?

Abstraction makes applications independent of underlying hardware and system software, eliminating application dependency on operating environments or even physical platforms—allowing applications and data to move freely from physical to virtual to cloud-based platforms. That freedom of movement opens up capabilities like application-aware high availability, application-specific performance improvements, and smoothing the introduction of new technologies into your infrastructure. It’s also effective in situations like cloud bursting, because application and data migration is much more efficient.

Abstracting applications from their underlying infrastructure also increases the breadth of applications that can be supported. InfoScale provides a common platform for availability, optimization and data migration of mission-critical workloads in public and private clouds (including Azure), and across all major enterprise applications, including SAP, SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, TIBCO, Oracle, Informatica, and SAS. Within these applications, customers gain the flexibility to optimize RPO/RTO based on cost and control requirements and to more easily integrate new use cases into their application portfolio.

For now, let’s focus on application-aware availability, and especially as it relates to Microsoft Azure.

Always-on applications in Microsoft Azure

It’s important to note that InfoScale considers availability as much more than just “well, yes the application seems to be running.”  With InfoScale, there are three considerations: (1) ensuring individual applications are in fact running (think of this as a light bulb being on or off); (2) that the backend datasets supporting these apps are not only resilient but performant (think of this as the bulb is bright enough); and (3) breathing room for infrastructure decisions such that leveraging new technologies are not a hinderance to business success (sometimes you will have to change a light bulb “on the fly”).

But IT services are no longer standalone applications running on single servers—which are dramatically easier to make highly available. Today, multitier business services make up most of an IT organization’s critical services. Different components of the business service can be running on different tiers of infrastructure—across operating systems, on-premises data centers or in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments. A failure at any tier can bring down the entire business service.

The availability services in InfoScale comprise a finite-state machine that monitors all the components in an entire business service (components are defined by the administrator and are grouped into “service groups”). Monitoring goes well beyond “is it on or off?” including “is it performing well enough?” and “is the underlying DBMS working correctly?” If any component in a service group changes state, InfoScale automatically orchestrates the connection to other computing resources—on-premises, across sites, or across cloud providers—to reinstate the application and at the proper performance level. This is not just start and stop sequences but also includes data replication, database synchronization and disaster recovery failover (Figure 2).

Figure2.pngFigure 2. Using Microsoft Azure for disaster recovering via InfoScaleSummary

A hybrid cloud strategy is a great way to reduce costs and increase flexibility—and getting there doesn’t have to be the biggest project since digging the Panama Canal. With Azure and InfoScale, you get cost-effective platform independence with consistent high availability, disaster recovery, and performance. InfoScale can orchestrate the availability of multiple, multi-vendor, multi-tier applications across physical, virtual and cloud-based platforms. 

With Veritas InfoScale, take on the hybrid cloud confidently. Learn more about InfoScale solutions at Veritas.com.