So, you know that more and more companies move to the cloud. You probably also heard that cloud-based solutions are the future and that it is said that investment in them are skyrocketing as we speak. Yet you have your doubts.
Is this the solution for your company? Should you really invest in the biggest trend in the IT industry since the invention of WiFi? Such questions are justified – and here you will find answers to them.
Who are you?
To set the stage for consideration, let’s have a look at your company, which is using on-premise solutions. The enterprise is either small or medium, but you expect it to flourish soon. For now, though, the infrastructure and servers’ power are usually enough, minus occasional down-times. For most problems your IT team is enough to deploy applications or update the infrastructure – but crashes happen from time to time anyway. In short, your infrastructure is not the most reliable, but it works.
If you find yourself in the above description, no wonder you worry if cloud adoption is really needed. After all, we all know how the saying goes: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ or, even better fitting the theme, ‘never change a running system’. And you are right because there is a possibility that in your case sending your business to the cloud makes little sense. Let’s look at both sides of the coin and find out when to plan the public cloud adoption, and when to postpone it for now.
What problems, if ignored, do grow bigger?
First – a quick reminder. Why do you use systems and IT solutions in the first place? The bet is, you wanted to have reliable, fast, not too expensive, secured, and mostly automated tools to attend to your business needs. We’re talking customer services, distribution channels, organizing finances or simply having it all in one, easy-to-reach place. So every time your system is down, when it generates too high costs, risks a data-leaking or simply makes it hard to work with – it’s not performing its core tasks.
What are the problems that put your systems and your enterprise at risk?
- Often down-times on on-premise hosting.
- Servers are generating high costs or are not in good shape.
- There are unpredictable spikes in the monthly usage of servers.
- Infrastructure (such as operating systems or Tomcat servers) is not up to date.
- An increase in traffic is expected soon (for example because of the company expansion).
- The time-to-market of the applications should be improved.
Each item on this list is like a ticking bomb – without attending, it may eventually blow up, damaging the budget and workflow of the company. Why is that so? Because such problems tend to grow in time. People are creatures of habit, so it’s easy for us to get used to occasional downtimes or sluggish pace of work. But just because we stopped noticing the problem, doesn’t mean that the problem stopped existing, right? And in today’s market, any lost opportunity to boost your company is a way to set it back in the competition.
Why cloud is THE solution?
You could say there is no issue too heavy for clouds. Lifting the weight from on-premise servers and placing it in the complex, well-developed data centers lets developers and engineers forget about most problems connected to the low capacity of local infrastructure.
In many cases, it’s also simply cheaper: for example, when your business is tightly correlated with seasons, which means periods of dealing with heavy traffic alternated with periods of low server usage. Usually, that means the necessity of keeping servers capable of carrying out heavy load for the whole time – which causes high costs during the whole year.
Let’s look at each aspect that the cloud can improve – with your company’s needs kept in mind.
- Firstly, data centers are much better equipped to host your services than your own infrastructure or your local server outsourcing place. The devices are kept up to date, are constantly monitored, and are much more productive and efficient, which means they are rarely having a down-time. That’s not surprising – if you’re a data center that holds terabytes of data, you must invest in the best infrastructure. Not to mention the cooling systems, emergency procedures and so on. Data centers are the place to base your services if you are searching for a safe, reliable solution.
- Secondly, the cloud-based infrastructure is flexible and more reliable. If you need more space than previously estimated, that’s not a problem. You don’t have to buy another device, relocate your applications or develop a new, expanded software. Cloud, just like the internet, is endless. What is more, in contrary to using on-premise solutions, with cloud you are paying only for the space you are actually using. No matter the cap of possible usage of data – you are not paying for what you could do with the infrastructure, but for what you are actually doing.
- Thirdly, the maintenance of cloud-based solutions, i.e.: developing, updating, fixing or configuration is much easier with cloud than it is with on-premise servers. A huge portion of the changes is being done automatically by the cloud provider, which means taking the pressure of constant maintenance from the company’s IT team.
- Fourthly, it is worth pointing out that cloud-based solutions let you also deploy applications in a way that is not only simpler but also faster. That means if you want a new tool, you must just deploy it – not plan on buying new equipment, like load balancers or additional virtual machines, not waste time and money like it usually is with on-premise solutions.
When to forget about public cloud
There are no universal solutions and following common trends without a deeper thought usually doesn’t do much good. That’s why it’s important not only to see the advantages of cloud adopting but also to consider situations when the change is simply not needed yet. Especially if at the time being the company can do without speed or capacity increase. The decision is up to you in situations when:
- your company already made investments in in-house server farms;
- on-premise solutions are enough for current and estimated traffic and usage;
- there are restrictions regarding data locations.
Even in such situations, the cloud can still bring much good for the company. But cloud adoption is an investment, and it is more than clear that investments must be planned and must have their place in business strategy. Better to consider every aspect of the problem and then decide on the best course of action (following by choosing the best strategy of cloud adopting), instead of jumping into it headfirst.
Time and team – what to expect?
We mention “the best strategy of cloud adopting” – yes, you are right, there is more than one way to do so. You could almost say that to every application being used in your company you can apply one out of 6 main procedures and an endless amount of their variations. Choosing the best way is a task for a cloud architect and a customer. That means you should be supported in the process of decision making by the person that knows everything about the cloud. Together, you will choose what’s best.
The typical task distribution looks like this: cloud architect prepares the plan of migrating – evaluates assets being used by your company, prioritizes the first group of applications and workloads and aligns each task to a suitable team. Then developers, QAs and DevOps engineers will migrate existing apps, using an iterative approach, thanks to which the effects of their work will be visible during the whole process of cloud adaption – not only on its end. Depending on the size and complexity of the existing applications and workloads, the time frame can vary. Giving the example above (which, as you can remember, describes YOUR company), we are talking about a span of over a dozen weeks, if there is no critical modification during the project.