There are several ways to work in a multi-cloud environment, but so far, it looks like one provider – Flexify.io – offers a virtualization layer on top of numerous cloud storage back ends.
The company claims it can make cloud supplier lock-in a thing of the past and allow customers a single simplified point of access to a range of cloud storage providers that may differ in capacity pricing, egress, performance, region, etc.
Flexify also offers migration between clouds at costs that can come in below cloud providers’ egress charges. That’s the offer proffered by Flexify.io. But where does the need for these services comes from, and how does it work?
The backdrop comes from the increasing use of cloud compute and cloud storage, which is increasingly in the mix with on-premise IT assets. Just about all organizations use the cloud to some extent, with the most advanced use cases including the ability to burst out to cloud capacity to meet demand or particular workloads.
But, not all clouds are created equally when it comes to storage. Some cost more than others to just store data, some are more pricy than others when it comes to egress costs, some may perform better than others, and others may simply be in the right place.
Those are some of the facts of the life of cloud storage, which with the cloud more broadly, is increasingly in use alongside on-premise IT assets for most organizations. This means multi-cloud is not just a reality for many organizations but a challenging issue when managing it.
So, what does Flexify.io bring?
Core to their offer is a single API-driven point of access to a virtualization layer with around 20 cloud storage providers behind it. It is all object storage, and the providers behind the curtain include Amazon S3, Azure, Google Cloud, Backblaze, Wasabi, Digital Ocean, Alibaba Cloud, Mail.ru Cloud, Yandex, Dell EMC ECS, and Minio.
Application API calls land at Flexify using S3 commands. Behind that, Flexify handles routing to and from whichever storage providers the customer uses and in whichever combination is specified, for reads, writes, lists, with changes possible on the fly for reasons of performance, cost, etc.
The Flexify virtualization layer presents all data in a single bucket. It handles protocol conversion to allow access to supported clouds, but access for the customer is always via S3 while access methods are converted in the background.
While all that day-to-day storage I/O takes place, migrations can also be carried out between the cloud storage providers behind the Flexify veil. Application access is unaffected by background changes such as migration.
Benefits include using a variety of clouds for reasons of performance, cost – such as egress, for example – and region. Data that might be kept close to computing in one cloud might be tiered off to less costly storage once processed. Meanwhile, data could be held in a particular geography for compliance reasons while access is via a single namespace.