Until recently, a preponderance of businesses built their own private datacenters and deployed hundreds to thousands of servers to run their applications and store their data. IT staff spent a large amount of their time planning for space, cooling, capacity, network, continuity, security, and so on. The problem with this model is that once you have one or more in-house datacenters, you are constantly having to invest to keep them running and up to date. It’s kind of like owning a house: there is always something that needs to be fixed, repaired, replaced, or upgraded.
With the advent of the public cloud, businesses now have to decide whether to continue with the in-house datacenter model, move to the public cloud, or implement some type of hybrid scenario. So what are the factors that play into the decision to stay or go to the public cloud? Let’s take a look at the top five reasons that drive companies to move some or all of their computing systems out of their private datacenters and into the public cloud.
Shrinking IT budgets
Maintaining a datacenter is a large investment in capital costs. There are so many components to maintain, including buildings, cooling systems, fire systems, security systems, electrical systems, servers, storage systems, and the list goes on and on. All of these components have to be maintained and updated or replaced on a regular basis. If you don’t stay current, then you can lose your competitive advantage and take the chance of a system becoming obsolete. Year after year, you have to allocate budget for the datacenters and those other systems, regardless if you have 100 servers or 10,000 servers. Of course, the more servers you have deployed in your datacenters, the larger your costs will be. You are also incurring those costs regardless if your servers are running at full or 10% capacity.
Public clouds are built around the concept that you only pay for the resources that you use. That can be a real cost saver for situations where you are constantly trying new ideas or building new applications. In the public cloud, if you need a 100 new servers for a two-month project, there is no capital procurement process, no waiting for the servers to be delivered and installed, and no testing of each system to ensure they are fully functional. In a public cloud, you can just size and provision 100 new servers and pay for only using those new servers for the two-month period. When the project is complete two months down the road, you just delete the 100 servers and the charges for those resources just stop accruing.
As a quick recap, the public cloud solution provides the following cost benefits:
- Cost savings for physical server hardware
- Cost savings for electrical and environmental systems
- Cost savings for storage systems
- Cost savings for support of all these systems
Of course, there are some cost offsets for public cloud resources:
- WAN connectivity cost increases
- Security systems cost increases
All in all, moving to the public cloud can help to shrink the cost of your IT budget and allow you to hopefully shift it to more direct business-related ventures.
Reducing operational costs
In private datacenters, you are responsible for managing everything. That means that you have to maintain an expert staff that is large enough to perform that maintenance, procure support contracts with all of the hardware and software vendors, maintain spare systems and parts for servers and storage, and perform validation tests for all of the systems.
Even in a private cloud environment, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on premise systems, regardless if they are physical or virtual, the staff is required to maintain the entire stack from the physical hardware, through the operating system (OS) level, to the top of the stack, including the applications. When you move to the public cloud, the stack becomes a joint operational stack that is maintained by the provider and the client.
For IaaS systems in the public cloud, the provider maintains the physical hardware, physical storage, physical networking, physical security, and communication between public datacenters. The client is responsible to maintain the virtual hardware, virtual networking, virtual storage, OS, OS updates, and application layers.
For Platform as a Service (PaaS) systems in the public cloud, the provider maintains the physical hardware, physical storage, physical networking, physical security, communication between public datacenters, virtual hardware, virtual storage, virtual networking, OS, OS updates, application software, application updates, and some application security. The client is responsible for the application configuration and some application security
For Software as a Service (SaaS) systems in the public cloud, the provider is responsible for everything except some very limited application configuration that the client performs to customize the environment to their requirements. The client also usually has access to an API to get data in and out of a SaaS system.
Overall, moving to the public cloud can reduce the operational costs when compared even to private cloud datacenters. As a bonus, you can also economize on training costs as your IT staff no longer has to be experts capable of supporting a large variety of hardware systems.
Scaling on the go
Corporate datacenter scalability is mostly limited by the size of the facilities and available budget. Most businesses do not want to commit billions of dollars to invest in the construction of more datacenters across the globe as their business expands. Scaling globally skyrockets operational costs and a business can quickly become overwhelmed by the complexity of the infrastructure.
In contrast, a public cloud provider can justify investing billions of dollars into complex infrastructure and processes that span the globe, because they will recover the costs from millions of customers internationally. By leveraging a global public cloud, business clients can quickly scale their application or global reach without having to invest and maintain a large and complicated corporate global datacenter footprint.
Keeping business agile
One of the huge challenges for a private datacenter is capacity and budget planning. IT staff everywhere dread the budget planning cycle that they have to go through every year, trying to predict the needs of the business users before really knowing what capacity or global capability will be required. Be truthful, how many times have you had to “guesstimate” when defining your IT budget? Well, don’t worry, you are in good company! Even if the requirements can be well predicted, there are dependencies on how quickly equipment can be funded, purchased, received, installed and configured to meet business unit needs. Here is another area where a public cloud solution can minimize or eliminate bothersome barriers and dependencies.
Leveraging a public cloud, a business unit has the agility to immediately deploy from a handful to tens of thousands of servers across global datacenters. They can use those systems to quickly prototype and deploy a new application, and determine if the model is worth pursuing. If the prototype fails, then the business unit just has to delete the deployed environment, and the company is only charged for the resources and the amount of time that were actually used during the prototype phase. Additionally, if the prototype succeeds, they can transition to quickly scale the environment as the business requirements grow and change. A single large application prototype deployment in a public cloud has the potential to save a company millions of dollars in capital, procurement, deployment, and operational costs.
Starting from scratch
The decision for an established business to migrate from a private infrastructure to a public cloud is a complex process, even when there are clear savings opportunities. It can be jarring to have to give up control of an infrastructure, and to entrust another entity with the responsibility to keep your applications and data safe and secure. The decision is generally much simpler for new businesses whose goals are to deploy their applications quickly, and beat their competition to the punch.
In this age of constant and lightning fast changes, new businesses must be able to very quickly deploy and onboard new customers through their online presence. The fastest and most cost-effective way to get their applications out in front of new customers is to leverage a public cloud solution. They can cut down the time to deploy by not being bound to the traditional private infrastructure model. Gone is the need to pour through hardware vendor data and weed-out systems to find the perfect match to your business needs. Also gone is the need to bring your IT staff up to speed on many complex and interwoven hardware systems that will probably be obsolete in six months or less. If a business is seeking agility, flexibility, and scalability to deploy on a global scale, does not have an existing infrastructure in place, and there are no application-specific barriers, than the public cloud is by most measures the best and fastest solution to release a new application or service!
To wrap up, we looked at five top reasons that are driving businesses today to move to the public cloud. Assuredly, there are more than just five reasons why you should consider moving your application stack to the public cloud! Unless you have special regulatory or legal reasons that dictate keeping an application and its data within your corporate walls, in many cases, it makes sense to divest yourself from an encumbering infrastructure so that your business units can focus on optimizing the application stack and on scaling it up and down as business needs change.