Do you have a Cloud Strategy?

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We are seeing more and more companies moving their workloads to the cloud. According to IDC, the worldwide public cloud services spend will double to over $141 billion in 2019. So what is driving this shift to cloud infrastructures? The term we often hear quoted is ‘Business Agility’, and the need for cost savings and/or efficiencies. In today’s fast-paced digital economy, the ability to innovate and stay competitive is essential. Cloud computing has enabled companies of all sizes to channel their efforts into what is important, their business.

When defining a cloud strategy what is the right option for your business? Is it public cloud, private cloud or a hybrid cloud? There isn’t typically a ‘one size fits all’ answer. It often depends on the type of application, cost, in-house expertise, and other unique and specific business requirements.

Let’s first look at the public cloud. It’s this model that people often first think of when discussing cloud computing. The model is based around the Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) leveraging the Internet to make infrastructure resources available, e.g. servers, storage etc., with a selection of payment plans, to make it easier for a business to consume resources on an as-needed basis.

These resources still require physical hardware, but instead of this being housed in an organisations own premises, it is owned and located at the CSP’s data centre. Often referred to as ‘Hyper-scalers’, Some of the largest CSPs in the market today, are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM’s Blue Cloud and Alibaba.  With these large brands dominating commoditising the market-place, it makes it easy for businesses to move to the public cloud.

The public cloud model works by virtualising the physical hardware housed at the cloud service provider’s data centre. This provides efficiencies by allowing multiple customers to share the resources, enabling a ‘multi-tenant’ arrangement spreads the costs of running the infrastructure across several users. A number of small and medium sized businesses have realised a significant cost advantage by leveraging a pay-as-you-grow model using public cloud. A very common application (workload) in this category are public-facing web applications which can scale up or down depending on demand.

Enabling Business Agility

It seems everything is happening at a faster pace, and businesses need to be quicker and more dynamic to evolve and improve processes, tools and technologies. Business agility is about enabling the business to make faster decisions, prioritise and deliver customer satisfaction. The public cloud can, in several scenarios, provide simplified internal operations, faster rollouts of new applications and initiatives, to achieve a competitive advantage.

What about Private clouds? As with other cloud models, private cloud provides compute and often storage resource as a service within a virtualised environment. However, this time, the physical servers and storage etc. are used only by a single company and are typically housed within the organisations own data centre(s) or hosted by a third party. Private clouds provide many of the flexibilities of the public cloud, however the organisation has to bear the cost of hardware and resource to set-up and maintain these cloud services. As a private cloud is typically only accessible by a single organisation, this increases control and helps improve governance, privacy and compliance.

How can you get the best of both worlds?

We have established that cloud services provide efficiencies at varying degrees. Public cloud services are typically more cost efficient and scalable than a private cloud. Private clouds on the other hand provide more control and often make governance, privacy and compliance a little easier.

There is another option where you can have the best of both worlds, the hybrid cloud. Where you have the need is to maximise efficiencies for a given workload, a public cloud solution can be used. Typically, these consist of non-sensitive applications. However, for those workloads that require additional control for compliance and/or sensitivity reasons you can benefit from a private cloud. The trick with a hybrid approach is to ensure that both the public and private cloud workloads are seamlessly integrated.

Hybrid clouds are not just simply a mix of private and public clouds. It’s a solution that allows the flexibility to choose private and public clouds to achieve the optimal performance, efficiency, and economy for any given workload.

It’s desirable that hybrid clouds are managed through a common management solution. If done well, this approach will enable workloads to leverage different cloud solutions on an as needed basis. This solution can also offer the flexibility to shift one workload from one cloud to another or even to span multiple clouds.

Many organisations are adopting a hybrid cloud approach as the flexibility and business benefits are compelling. With the potential to immediately ‘burst’ and increase a workloads capacity during peak demand, then shrink when demand is light. This is just one of the many advantages why modern businesses are turning to the cloud. Future requirements may also include moving workloads dynamically between private and public clouds and with suitable management solutions in place, all of these options become a possibility.

You can find out more https://www.suse.com/solutions/cloud/

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Andrew Steggles
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