Public cloud has its pros and cons, but enterprises today can't afford to be anti-cloud.
After I moderated a panel discussion at Interop ITX titled "Cloud Adoption Experiences: Backlash or Goodness?" some attendees said they were disappointed that all three panelists were enthusiastic about using a public cloud provider. Were they expecting a spirited debate or even fight on stage, or were they looking for a way to justify their existing systems? Ultimately, the feedback indicated that attendees need to understand the pros and cons of public cloud to make their IT decisions. They’re looking to do the right thing for their organizations.
The session panelists represented diverse organizations: The Liberty Group, a staffing company; Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life; and Shutterstock, a stock photo and video marketplace.
Shutterstock was born online in 2003, Linden Lab moved to the cloud to host Second Life, and Liberty Group gradually moved to the cloud in spite of some internal objections. Each speaker had positive views about the public cloud: scalability, ease of management, availability of add-on services, and not needing to hire internal staff because the cloud provider has deep knowledge in a range of areas, such as security.
Now let's look at the reasons why an organization might want to keep their infrastructure on-premises.
- Compliance: IT organizations have a variety of regulatory requirements they must meet, including the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation with which multi-national corporations must comply. Major cloud providers list their compliance certifications on their websites, but it’s worth reading carefully to determine if the certifications apply to your organization’s requirements.
- Legacy apps: People strive to “lift and shift” old apps to the cloud, but that is not that easy. Newly designed applications adapt easily to the cloud, but it's difficult to move fragile legacy apps to the cloud. Licensing issues can arise, as support or licensing contracts for apps may not be valid in the cloud.
- Latency: Some workloads need to be on-premises. Imagine an IoT application that requires a sensor to communicate very quickly to a data collection app. This supports adoption of “edge computing” where workloads run close to the network’s edge, on-premises.
- Local execution: Public cloud services charge for network data egress. If a lot of data is transported between on- and off-premises systems, costs may increase. Worse yet, there are some cases where there is no good network connection to a remote location such as within an oil rig or in a ship. Those require on-premises computing as there is no other practical choice.
However, today in the enterprise, no one can really be "anti-cloud." The reality is that most enterprises can’t afford not to take advantages of public cloud, but they need to balance that with the requirements for keeping some workloads on-premises. The end result is that enterprises will not be purely on-premises or off-premises in a public cloud, but will operate in a hybrid manner.
ESG research into public cloud trends shows that customers are interested in a hybrid cloud strategy, with 44% of organizations saying that they consider both on-premises resources and public cloud services when planning to deploy new applications.
It’s likely that most organizations are already operating in a hybrid cloud environment, since any that use productivity products such as Office 365, G Suite or a CRM such as Salesforce are hybrid, and most have shadow IT that's deployed an app within AWS, Azure or Google Cloud.
Looking ahead, each organization should examine its business, financial, performance, and regulatory requirements. Nobody should force themselves to be cloud-first or any one cloud model. Just make the right business decision; don’t chase after the latest tech trend.
Learn more about cloud infrastructure at Interop ITX in Las Vegas, April 30-May 4. Register today!