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The challenges of cloud-based app-dev and how to overcome them

26 Nov 2018

The public cloud is becoming the natural destination for application development initiatives central to digital transformation, largely because it has enabled enterprises to increase their agility and bring applications and services to market faster. 

There do, however, remain a number of challenges that customers struggle with as they look to deploy agile test and development environments within their organisations. In this article, we will explore key challenges and explain how Cloudspin can easily help provision data in the cloud.

Data copies creating inefficiency in-app test and development 

Data that application owners and developers can use for test/dev purposes can often take days or even weeks to receive. Typically, a cycle will look something like this: A developer needs a set of production data to test a new application. Backups are a perfect solution as they run regularly and capture the production data. However, a developer can’t use the data from the backup target storage directly. Backups today are strictly an insurance policy and tend to stay idle when not in use.

Whenever a developer requests a set of data, IT has to provision a new set of storage or re-provision an existing set. There was once a product category that was developed just to solve this particular problem, otherwise known as copy data management. In either case, this was time-consuming, inefficient, and expensive. Furthermore, on-premise backups can’t easily be used for test/dev in the cloud. Many organisations are using the cloud for test/dev, but frequently experience a VM format incompatibility between on-premises systems and the cloud, causing yet another headache.

Cloud test and dev lacks enterprise-grade backups

We are now seeing organisations develop cloud-native applications. But this raises new questions concerning how well protected they are, how well existing approaches to backup work or whether having custom scripts is a scalable solution. Does the process have enough automation built in? The likely answer is no.

Accelerating application testing and development

The industry is certainly not standing still, as there are new capabilities available that help accelerates application test/dev initiatives while keeping the data in question protected at all times, reducing operational overhead and manual processes. 

These new “cloud spinning” capabilities enable faster access to data for test/dev in the cloud. Expensive copies of data are eliminated because storage teams no longer have to make multiple copies of data to enable their application development teams. Cloud spinning enables developers to utilise on-premises backup data in the cloud and also convert on-premises VMs to appropriate cloud formats. Application mobility is therefore no longer hampered by format issues across on-premise and the cloud.

Spinning VMs up instantly in the cloud in order to provision data is a key requirement for more agile test/dev. Once the process in the cloud is complete, the VM can then be torn down. Cloud spinning capabilities make this very easy to do based on idle backup data from on-premises.

Additionally, having a consistent approach to managing both on-premises and cloud backup is a key requirement, as it simplifies administration and reduces TCO, both on-premises and in the public cloud.

Ensuring App test and development protection in the Cloud 

Integration with the snapshot APIs of the public cloud providers ensures that public cloud users benefit from the same data protection capabilities in the cloud as well as on-premises. 

Integration enables users to automate the backup of cloud applications within the complex context of managing snapshots. There is no easy way to know which snapshots exist and which should be retired, among other things. Integration with native snapshot APIs helps alleviate these issues and introduces more automation by leveraging tags available in the public cloud providers.

This is also beneficial by virtue of reducing the amount of time spent on manual administration with the growth in cloud VMs. VMs are continually added or removed based on changing needs so there needs to be a more intelligent way to manage this process. Auto-discovery and auto-protect capabilities are now available for cloud-native backup and greatly streamline administration. 

Article by Theo Hourmouzis, ANZ Managing Director, Cohesity