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One Size Does Not Fit All:  Understand Your Workloads Before Selecting a Cloud Platform

It’s a myth that the public cloud is cost effective in all environments or for all workloads. The answer as to whether the public cloud is more or less expensive depends a great deal on the workload, the application requirements and the use-case patterns.

Juan Orlandini is Chief Architect for Datalink.

Cloud migration is the new frontier of data management, with the majority of organizations investing in cloud services, according to Insight’s Intelligent Technology Index. When employed correctly, the cloud allows IT leaders to manage the day-to-day applications of their businesses, while also transforming their organization’s IT capabilities for tomorrow.

The push to the public cloud, however, has been problematic for some. In a recent survey that Datalink commissioned with IDG, approximately 40 percent of IT leaders had removed one or more workloads from the public cloud due to cost, manageability and/or security concerns.

The bottom line on cost: It’s a myth that the public cloud is cost effective in all environments or for all workloads. The answer as to whether the public cloud is more or less expensive depends a great deal on the workload, the application requirements and the use-case patterns.

It’s not one size fits all—you have to understand the application workload at a very detailed level to be able to provide an appropriate financial analysis on whether the public cloud will be the most cost effective option.

Additionally, while cost is important, it is not the sole factor in determining how and when to use public cloud. Another thing to consider—in cases where the cost is relatively on par—is the upside value of services available through public cloud that offer new capabilities and help fuel innovation and collaboration across your organization.

For example, if you want to better enable worker mobility, it would be advantageous to have client-facing interfaces available anywhere. Public cloud providers can offer capabilities that enable the workforce to have a consistent presence no matter where they are on the public internet.

Getting smart on manageability. The biggest challenge to cloud management is the erroneous assumption that you get something for free—e.g. monitoring. Beyond service availability, public cloud providers are not monitoring or managing the workloads built on top of the services that they provide.

This means that it is still incumbent upon you to have operational knowledge of the cloud platform so that you can effectively monitor and manage the applications that have been transitioned to the public cloud.

Not understanding from the start what is and isn’t included with public cloud services has been one of the leading causes of workload “unclouding.” This could easily be avoided if the workload had been migrated to the cloud with the appropriate architecture and processes in place to effectively manage it.

The truth about security. Security is another area where a lot of false assumptions are made. The truth is that the public cloud doesn’t secure itself. Public cloud providers offer many security services, but they may not provide the full-scale security architecture you need.

To avoid security issues, you must know how to employ the tools offered by the provider in order to make sure the workloads are secure. Because the cloud is not a “set it and forget it” service, it’s critical to understand the answers to the following questions:

  • How are application authentication and access handled?
  • Is there an effective security architecture around that?
  • Is there effective border security?

Beyond the basics of security, you may have very clear ideas about how you want to treat intellectual property. Those policies aren’t always understood by the public cloud providers. This is another major contributor to why a company “unclouds.” In many instances, security concerns around intellectual property can be solved for during the analysis and assessment phase. What you may also find during that phase is that some applications simply can’t be migrated to the public cloud due to data governance, regulations and company policy.

To avoid the costly mistake of “unclouding” and determine the best-fit platform, organizations need to inventory all applications and assess workload requirements in relation to compliance, security, processes, interdependencies and service requirements. Private, public and hybrid clouds are all viable options—it is just a matter of choosing the platform that best aligns with your organization’s workload requirements and budget.

The bottom line is that it pays to invest in the upfront assessment and analysis of your workloads and to build a strategy that will enable you to achieve operational excellence and prevent costly missteps. In today’s competitive business environment, optimizing your data management strategy can allow you to invest in innovation and transformational business strategies to propel your business forward.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.



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