Top 8 Hybrid Cloud Storage Platforms in 2021


A hybrid cloud is defined as an IT environment architecture where two or more environments co-exist with some degree of portability, centralized visibility, and interoperability, comprising both private and public resources. By 2026, hybrid cloud will be a $145 billion market globally, signaling keen interest and rapid investments. This article discusses the key features needed to manage a hybrid cloud and the top solutions to consider in 2021. 

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5 Must-Have Features of a Hybrid Cloud Solution

A hybrid cloud is an IT environment architecture where two or more environments co-exist with some degree of portability, centralized visibility, and interoperability, comprising both private and public resources. These resources may be hosted on-premise or remotely, but the landscape must use at least one private cloud environment and one public cloud environment to qualify as hybrid. 

The demand for hybrid cloud has steadily increased over the years. While public cloud is seen as a stepping stone into the cloud world, 41% of companies who migrated their applications to the public cloud regretted doing so, as per Virtana’s 2021 State of Hybrid Cloud Report. As per the report, 72% of companies had moved their applications back on-premise after migrating to a public cloud environment. This indicates the need to have a heterogenous infrastructure environment rather than opting for a one-size-fits-all model. 

Hybrid cloud platforms and solutions help orchestrate storage across different environments, maximizing their benefits while containing complexity. If you’re eager to look beyond a monolithic public cloud, here are some must-have features you need to support hybrid cloud adoption. 

Key Features of a Hybrid Cloud Solution

  • Global availability: The solution provider must have offices and data centers spread across the globe. If it does not have its own data centers in multiple global regions, it should partner with cloud vendors with a sizable global presence. 
  • Large partner ecosystem: A hybrid cloud solution provider’s partner ecosystem must span hardware manufacturers, cybersecurity specialists, public cloud vendors, system integrators, and developer tools. This prepares your hybrid cloud landscape for different use cases and ensures it is secure and compliant. 
  • Sufficient scalability: Scalability is one of the key reasons companies choose hybrid cloud over on-premise only environments. Therefore, the solution should be able to support scaling up or down, as required, without adding to your data egress costs.
  • Cost efficiency: When implemented correctly, a hybrid cloud can be several times as cost-efficient as an on-premise or public cloud infrastructure. Ideally, the hybrid cloud solution should enable automated data tiering to optimize data movements for cost controls. A centralized monitoring tool for the entire heterogeneous landscape can also be helpful. 
  • Managed services: A managed services capability entails that the solution provider will be able to support you across your hybrid cloud adoption journey through consultancy services, maintenance, architecture design, etc. This is particularly necessary for non-digitally-native companies. 

Also Read: What Is Hybrid Cloud? Definition, Architecture, and Management Best Practices for 2021

Top 8 Hybrid Cloud Storage Platforms in 2021

As cloud environments become more mature, companies are eager to explore smarter alternatives to homogenous, public cloud environments. Enterprises have realized that this may aid in greater flexibility and cost reduction while avoiding vendor lock-in. That’s why the hybrid cloud market is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, growing from $52 billion in 2020 to $145 billion by 2026, as reported by Statista. Here are the top eight solutions to consider in this segment, arranged in alphabetical order.

Disclaimer: These listings are based on publicly available information and include vendor websites that sell to mid-to-large enterprises. Readers are advised to conduct their own final research to ensure the best fit for their unique organizational needs.

1. AWS Outposts

Overview: Amazon Web Services (AWS) is recognized as one of the top three cloud providers globally, catering to small businesses, enterprises, and government agencies. Since its inception in the early 2000s, AWS has steadily increased in revenues and now makes up a sizable revenue share for its parent company, Amazon. While AWS is better known for its public cloud services, it also has a popular hybrid offering called Outposts. 

Key features: The key features of AWS Outposts include: 

  • A fully managed service comprising the same infrastructure, services, application programming interfaces (APIs), and tools as AWS 
  • Highly scalable from 1 rack to 96 racks to match your compute and storage capacity needs 
  • Consistent hybrid experience across AWS public cloud and your on-premise infrastructure 
  • Data residency and data processing with a localization focus 
  • Ideal for low-latency compute use cases 

USP: There’s no denying that AWS is one of the most trusted cloud providers globally, with infrastructure and market presence in every continent. The USP of Outposts is its ability to support workloads that need low latency access to on-premise systems while enjoying the same resiliency and availability as AWS. 

Pricing: AWS Outposts is priced as per your enterprise needs – i.e., storage volumes, on-premise infrastructure, and the nature of application workloads. 

Editorial comments: Companies new to hybrid cloud technology that wish to avoid vendor lock-in can consider AWS Outposts. It will help conserve your existing investments in the AWS ecosystem while giving you the benefits of localized, low latency infrastructure. 

Also Read: Top 10 Hybrid Cloud Security Solution Companies in 2021

2. Azure StorSimple

Overview: Like AWS, Azure is one of the world’s leading cloud computing services, launched by Microsoft in 2008. The Azure infrastructure powers Microsoft’s full ecosystem of cloud-based software and tools and is commonly leveraged as a public cloud platform. Microsoft also offers StorSimple, which applies Microsoft’s cloud capabilities to hybrid cloud use cases. 

Key features: The key features of Azure StorSimple include: 

  • Storage consolidation using physical arrays and virtual arrays depending on your enterprise size and needs 
  • Data management automation, including automatic archival of inactive primary data from on-premises to the cloud
  • Software-defined policies for disaster recovery and compliance
  • StorSimple 8000 Series hybrid arrays and on-premises StorSimple Virtual Array
  • Compliance with all major industry and government-mandated security regulations 

USP: Azure is the cloud backbone powering many SaaS apps we use everyday and the entire Windows cloud ecosystem. As a result, Azure StorSimple brings a unique combination of accessibility and security, backed by Microsoft’s investment of $1+ billion every year in cybersecurity research. The company also has over 3500 security experts to protect your hybrid cloud data and one of the most comprehensive coverage in terms of compliance certifications. 

Pricing: StorSimple follows a usage-based pricing model, depending on the storage array you choose, market region, and daily data volumes. 

Editorial comments: While StorSimple is available worldwide, it’s best suited for U.S. organizations where the solution is available at a transparently priced daily/monthly rate. Costs are segregated into storage, networking, and data management fees, a factor to remember when defining your cloud budgets. 

3. Google Anthos

Overview: While Google is better known for the Google Cloud Platform (a public cloud), it also has a powerful managed application platform for hybrid use cases called Anthos. Google announced the general availability of Anthos in 2019, which makes it a relatively new entrant in the hybrid cloud software solution segment. According to Forrester, Anthos can drive a 4.8x return on investment (ROI) within three years.

Key features: The key features of Google Anthos include: 

  • Supports Kubernetes cluster execution in cloud and on-premise environments 
  • Can run in virtualized infrastructure as well as bare-metal servers
  • Anthos Config Management to automate security policy enforcement at scale 
  • Anthos Service Mesh to monitor and troubleshoot application performance in the hybrid cloud 
  • Cloud Run for Anthos, which is a serverless development platform to deploy your existing workloads on the cloud 

USP: Anthos supports software development lifecycles in a hybrid environment, with a particular focus on containerization. Further, Anthos includes multiple ready-to-use tools to make developer’s lives easier – e.g., Migrate for Anthos for workload modernization and containerization, Traffic Director for load balancing across clusters and regions, and Google Cloud’s operations suite for cloud health monitoring. 

Pricing: Pricing for Google Anthos depends on the type of infrastructure you use (Google, AWS, VMware, bare-metal, etc.). You can choose between hourly and monthly pricing models. 

Editorial comments: Google Cloud Anthos is positioned as an excellent choice for developer teams looking to utilize the hybrid cloud. Not only is it squarely development-focused (with tools and tutorials for continuous integration, multi-team development, application delivery, etc.), but it also has an impressive network of partners spanning technology, service, and platform alliances. 

Also Read: Top 10 Cloud Security Software Solutions in 2021

4. IBM Spectrum Virtualize

Overview: Enterprise solutions provider, IBM, has a massive catalog of cloud services, including its own public cloud, managed services for other public clouds, on-premise hardware infrastructure, and cloud-based services for artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, edge computing, etc. IBM Spectrum Virtualize is part of the company’s IBM Spectrum family of software-based infrastructure modernization solutions. 

Key features: The key features of IBM Spectrum Virtualize include: 

  • Native support for 440+ storage systems across multiple vendors 
  • IBM Easy Tier automated tiering to improve system performance by dynamically configuring data tasks 
  • IBM FlashCopy to easily mirror local data in a remote location 
  • IBM HyperSwap for data and application mobility between hybrid cloud components 
  • Software-based data encryption and data reduction technology for security and usage optimization 

USP: IBM is a globally known vendor-agnostic cloud expert ideal for use cases with landscape fragmentation. A major USP when leveraging IBM for hybrid cloud is the availability of IBM Storage Insights Pro – a singular dashboard that displays the vital statistics of your cloud environment at a glance. It gives you detailed trends on capacity and performance so you can make more informed decisions. This data is also related to IBM specialists so they can resolve issues quickly. 

Pricing: IBM Spectrum Virtualize is priced based on your hardware and data volume requirements. 

Editorial comments: IBM Spectrum offers a vast array of options in storage modernization, and IBM Spectrum Virtualize can act as your gateway into this ecosystem. You can gain from IBM’s capabilities in high volume storage centralization, disk storage, software-defined storage for analytics, archiving, and more. 

5. NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Overview: Publicly traded on NASDAQ, NetApp is a leading provider of storage management solutions on the cloud. The company offers several solutions to optimize your cloud landscape, among which Cloud Volumes ONTAP is specifically intended for hybrid and multi-clouds. It is compatible with AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as your private infrastructure. 

Key features: The key features of NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP include: 

  • Unified storage, consolidating multiple protocols across hybrid components 
  • Cross-region disaster recovery image replication 
  • Ransomware prevention and AI-led data privacy enforcement 
  • APIs for integrating hybrid cloud workflows with third-party automation tools 
  • Data tiering to optimize storage requirements and reduce costs 

USP: An important USP for NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP is the sheer variety of use cases it can address. You can leverage the solution to optimize your business application environment, run DevOps workflows, strengthen disaster recovery capabilities, or file and block storage. Further, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP has global availability, thanks to its support for AWS, Azure, and Google data centers. 

Pricing: NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP comes in four tiers – Explore (up to 2 TB), Standard (Up to 10 TB), Premium (up to 368 TB), and Bring Your Own License or BYOL (up to 368 TB). For each tier, pricing varies according to the availability you require and hourly consumption. 

Editorial comments: NetApp’s transparent pricing, multi-use case readiness, and support for the world’s most popular public clouds make it an ideal solution for businesses of every size. Small to mid-sized businesses with existing Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud investments can quickly estimate their hybrid cloud costs and calculate the potential savings. 

Also Read: Rootless Containers Are Generating a Buzz in the Industry. Here’s Why

6. Rackspace Hybrid Cloud Solution 

Overview: Rackspace is a digital transformation partner to enterprises running multi and hybrid cloud operations. It provides solutions across cloud, data, security, and application management. The company is publicly traded on NASDAQ and is closely involved in the Open Stack project for open-source cloud architecture technology. Rackspace leverages its partnerships with leading vendors to deliver comprehensive hybrid cloud services. 

Key features: The key features of Rackspace Hybrid Cloud Solution include: 

  • Compatibility with a wide range of public cloud solutions, including Alibaba, AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, and VMware
  • Managed hosting with expertise in Linux, Windows, and VMware environments 
  • FedRAMP, FISMA, NIST, and DFARS-compliance for hybrid cloud solutions in the public sector 
  • Highly scalable through pay-as-you-go provisioning and consumption models 
  • Enhanced security controls in a private environment 

USP: Rackspace is positioned as an end-to-end technology partner on your digital transformation journey, making it ideal for enterprises looking at a long-term plan. Its biggest USP is its vast ecosystem of partners. Rackspace is among the first Alibaba cloud partners, a VMware Premier Partner, a five-time Hosting Partner of the Year to Microsoft, and the first managed services partner for Google Cloud. It is also a co-founder of the OpenStack Cloud. 

Pricing: Rackspace’s hybrid cloud solution is individually priced for every implementation. You may reach out to a representative on the company website and ask for a free quote. 

Editorial comments: Given Rackspace’s partnerships with nearly every major cloud vendor, it is ready for implementation across multiple use cases. This is complemented by the company’s services in other crucial areas such as security, compliance, data analytics, application modernization, and consultancy. 

7. RedHat NooBaa Hybrid Cloud 

Overview: Global software giant RedHat acquired hybrid cloud specialist NooBaa in 2018. This allowed it to expand its suite of storage products, including containerized environments and multi and hybrid clouds. NooBaa offers solutions for private, multi, and hybrid cloud storage requirements, connecting with all popular private and public cloud providers. Based out of Israel, NooBaa has been a pioneer in the hybrid cloud and unstructured data management space since 2013. 

Key features: The key features of RedHat NooBaa Hybrid Cloud include: 

  • Consolidated infrastructure across AWS, NetApp, Azure, Google, Dell, Supermicro, your premises, and other cloud vendors into one virtual storage landscape 
  • Software-only solution built for the cloud
  • Data security capabilities for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) records in healthcare, financial information, and other industry-specific needs 
  • Data compression and de-duplication for optimal storage utilization 
  • Personalized data flows and data security in rest as well as in motion

USP: NooBaa is among the handful of companies out there with dedicated hybrid cloud expertise. A major USP to note is its dynamic nature. Instead of statically providing cache-to-cloud data movements, it can consume cloud storage services alongside private resources to enable a true hybrid capability. Further, it combines the user frontend (the high stack) and the backend (the low stack) into one data platform that lets you manage and execute storage tasks. 

Pricing: NooBaa is available for a free trial, after which you’d have to contact the company for a quote tailored to your infrastructure needs. 

Editorial comments: NooBaa is a software-only solution, sitting in-between your application layer and your hosting and storage systems. This makes it easy to implement without any underlying hardware dependencies, and it also makes NooBaa highly scalable. Using the solution, you can not only provide more resources when demand increases, but you can also shrink your data as required. 

Also Read: How To Secure Enterprise Data Using the AWS Shared Responsibility Model

8. VMware vSAN

Overview: VMware is a cloud computing and virtualization technology provider best known for its bare-metal infrastructure offerings. The company also provides a wide range of desktop and server software geared for on-premise and hybrid deployments. VMware vSAN (previously called VMware Virtual SAN) helps create a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) environment and drives hybrid cloud implementation. 

Key features: The key features of VMware vSAN include: 

  • A single integrated platform to manage compute and storage tasks
  • Unified app management through integration with VMware Tanzu
  • Partnerships with 18 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) server vendors and cloud providers Opens a new window like AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, Alibaba, and Oracle 
  • Full-stack solutions across compute, storage, and network virtualization with capabilities for cloud system management 
  • vSAN ReadyNodes available, which are pre-configured, tested, and certified x86 servers 

USP: vSAN enables a sophisticated HCI environment, ideal for companies looking to graduate from a public or multi-cloud landscape. Its USP is VMware’s established presence in the virtualization market, which means you can utilize vSAN with the company’s other offerings, such as the vSphere cloud computing virtualization platform. Also, VMware’s partner network makes it compatible with a wide variety of hardware and software systems. 

Pricing: vSAN is available in four editions – Standard, Advanced, Enterprise, and Enterprise+, each with its own target use case. Pricing depends on the specific appliances you choose as well as the VMware cloud services deployed. 

Editorial comments: Depending on the size and complexity of your hybrid cloud environment, you can choose from among the four vSAN license editions. The Enterprise+ tier includes the vRealize Operations capability, which enables self-driving IT operations management using AI. This can be extremely helpful in complex environments requiring a lot of manual expertise and intervention. 

Also Read: What Is Cloud Encryption? Definition, Importance, Methods and Best Practices

Final thoughts

Hybrid cloud is the future of IT modernization. According to the Denodo Global Cloud Survey 2021 report spanning 150 organizations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia-Pacific (APAC), over one in three businesses already use hybrid cloud technology. Over the next few years, this number will grow further as cloud use cases become more niche and industry-specific. Hybrid cloud storage platforms can assist you in your journey to build a cloud landscape as per your business’ unique requirements. 

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