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Should I stay or should I go? A cloudy decision

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

If you’ve been operating in the cloud for some time now, chances are your business has changed since you first made that move and particularly during the current climate. Has your cloud usage grown considerably—and your OpEx costs? Is that just the cost of doing business in the cloud? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s how you can rationalise your infrastructure and determine if there are cloud expenses you can reclaim and even if it makes sense to move some of your cloud deployments into co-location.

Particularly during the current pandemic, businesses have very quickly had to make the move to the cloud allowing their businesses to continue to operate effectively from their employee’s homes. The benefits of operating within the cloud, having the flexibility to be able to scale up and down when required and software-as-a-service apps taking away the worry of scaling up hardware and bandwidth to cope with demand, has been widely utilised during lockdown. And for some organisations this rapid shift to working within the cloud has thrown them a lifeline to continue operations.

However, this unexpected shift has meant that the cloud has had to be implemented into business practices without understanding its full capability or being aware of which application is the most suitable for the type of organisation, employee numbers and existing IT infrastructure.  This has resulted in many businesses being unaware of the full scope of services they are paying for and if it is the right type of solution for them.

The initial rush to the public cloud has now slowed as organisations have realised that it is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution and to ensure cloud infrastructure is valued within business processes, time deliberating what is most suited has now been integrated into initial discussions. The main issue is the lack of deep visibility into the performance of applications provided by the host. Our own research has recently revealed that 32 per cent of public cloud resources are currently under-utilised, and without proper direction and guidance this will remain the case.  What is needed is real-time data and intelligent recommendations to lower costs and assure performance.

The promise of unprecedented value

In order to optimise cloud resources, a third party AIOps based resource is needed. This will provide an independent and granular view of how applications are using capacity and if it is right-sized. In addition, it will monitor the performance of the applications in real time and provide metrics and analytics to eliminate bottlenecks. The allocated capacity can also be monitored to ensure an accurate match to workload requirements via real-time performance data.

Although the major hosts provide cost optimisation tools, these are not very accurate. Analysis of billing and how it matches capacity over time as well as in real time is what is needed for the cloud to remain a vital part in IT infrastructure. Armed with this information you can plan capacity purchases and discover wasted spend. By using a single platform for cloud management, you can monitor your infrastructure, plan capacity, and eliminate performance risks. Performance bottlenecks can be predicted before they affect clients and SLAs with multi-conditional alerting powered by advanced anomaly detection.

Cloud solutions are not only publicly provided by the likes of AWS and Azure. Co-location is also a strong option where your applications are managed on your behalf by a system integrator. This is increasingly becoming a stronger option for more business-critical applications. But to determine which is best for you, you need to start with the facts. 

The “Cloud” promises IT organisations unprecedent value in the form of business agility, faster innovation, superior scalability and most importantly - cost savings. For many organisations, it is at the core of their IT digital transformation strategy. It is a disruptive force that requires application workload behaviour knowledge, careful planning and collaboration from well-informed, trusted advisors.

As a first step, enterprises frequently target a subset of their less critical on-premises applications for migration to the public cloud. Typically, organisations will take one of two paths to the cloud.

  • A. Going cloud native. Rewrite your application to use resources offered by a cloud provider.
  • B. Lift and shift. Very minimal or zero code changes to the application. Largely, just replicate the application in the cloud.

The faster time-to-production choice is to “lift and shift” the targeted applications to a Cloud Service Provider’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In the lift and shift option, the advantage is reduction in the cost incurred in the physical infrastructure like hardware, floor space, cooling, security etc. and the management of that infrastructure. Savings will differ depending on your unique computing resource needs, workload refactoring and business models.

Even in its simplest form, IaaS migrations must be carefully planned requiring answers to some fundamental questions:

  • Will my application perform as expected in a public cloud? (Application Fitness)
  • How much will it cost to run my applications in a public cloud? (OpEx)
  • Which cloud service provider is the best choice for my applications? (Cost and Fit)

IT managers need answers to these questions before the actual migration is performed. As most internal IT organisations don’t have deep cloud expertise, the question becomes who you can trust to provide you with the answers – to help you make better business decisions.

As technology and the cloud stands to play an ever-increasing role throughout organisations, ensuring that you’re adopting the right type of infrastructure specifically for your business has never been more vital for continued success. Choosing a service that provides the answers to your key questions before the actual migration takes place and prepares you with vital insights into your applications and workloads targeted for cloud migration has to be an important part in the decision-making process.

As organisations continue to battle the Covid-19 storm, understanding the product that will overhaul your IT infrastructure, before you fully buy into it, is going to provide the confidence and assurance you need to make that decision a little less cloudy.

Scott Leatherman, CMO, Virtana

Scott Leatherman is CMO at Virtana.