Striking a Balance with Cloud – Quick Infrastructure Self-Assessment

Cloud Business

Cloud computing shouldn’t be considered the “be-all and end-all” technological solution.

The perspective that it’s a smart choice to migrate information and services to “the cloud” doesn’t always make sense, especially with public cloud and even with private cloud in some cases. In most situations, taking advantage of cloud hosting is savvy. Some of the time, though, cloud is impractical at best and foolish at worst.

There just isn’t a single type of computing that makes sense for any possible scenario, argued David Linthicum of InfoWorld in a 2013 op-ed that still holds true today. “Both people and companies like to treat new technologies as a universal silver bullet, using it where it does not make sense,” Linthicum warns, “a mistake they’re repeating now with cloud computing.”

In this article, we explore a stable, balanced approach toward cloud, achieved relatively simply via cost-benefit analysis:

  • The Reality of Ambiguity and Diversification
  • Zynga Runs from Cloud (2012)
  • General Electric Goes All-In (2014)
  • Predict Your Costs and Consider All Angles

The Reality of Ambiguity and Diversification

It’s easy in our business lives, just as in our personal lives, to see things in black and white. In our desire to have a perspective about everything, we want to put each item or concept in one of two categories: legitimate or illegitimate, right or wrong. If we place something in the positive category, we often fail to see its rough edges. On the other hand, if we place something in the negative category, we may fail to appreciate its strengths.

The truth is, there is a lot of ambiguity in life (bear with me). The most intelligent perspective that takes into account a spectrum of contributing factors will typically arrive at a gray area, a complex balance of elements that integrates into the most meaningful, synergistic whole.

So it is with the cloud. As businesspeople have come to better understand how powerful and conceptually simple cloud computing really is, they’ve remained concerned about the vulnerability of the public cloud. That’s reasonable. There is a reason why private cloud and traditional systems are still used. Although public cloud security has advanced incredibly since its inception, you simply can’t protect data in that environment as well as you can on private machines. Well, you at least have more control over security management, at which point it becomes a question of expertise.

You may just want to subsist solely off of cloud. Or it could just be a part of your balanced breakfast as you engineer a multifaceted system with a comprehensive, full-service hosting provider.

Zynga Runs from Cloud (2012)

While momentum started to build toward the cloud a few years ago, some early adopters essentially became trial-and-error guinea pigs testing the water of cloud maturity. “Testing the water” is an apt analogy – numerous companies jumped into public cloud headfirst and then jumped back out. Linthicum gave the example of social media game developer Zynga, which migrated into and out of AWS.

Fast-forward to 2015, and Zynga is still not alone. Sometimes it makes sense for companies to run their own data centers for select services while utilizing cloud infrastructure for others. Alternately, firms can build hybrid systems that integrate public cloud, private cloud, and dedicated machines stored and maintained through a web host.

Sometimes companies can save money by setting up their own clouds, although the infrastructure-as-a-service price wars have made that increasingly unlikely. Even if there isn’t a direct price advantage, firms sometimes “purchased a pile of services and need to … amortize those investments through their productive lives,” Linthicum noted. “The security and privacy argument may come into play as well.”

General Electric Goes All-In (2014)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Complete or near-complete adoption of cloud is becoming a more sensible and understandable decision all the time. Zynga is one thing. But many people would consider General Electric to be much more conservative and risk-averse.

Nonetheless, General Electric COO Chris Drumgoole said in October that private clouds didn’t really deserve to be considered cloud at all but were instead “well-orchestrated virtualization.” GE is moving to an op-ex model for its IT, cutting its data centers down to 10% of their original size as it pushes almost everything into the public cloud.

Predict Your Costs and Consider All Angles

When you consider whether you want to cloudify a particular system, tally the cost of your current situation and what it will be if you migrate. Your public cloud projection should take into account both savings and flexibility. Also model the positive and negative results of keeping your IT the way it is or migrating to new physical servers. You just have to know that your strategy makes sense.

You don’t want to choose cloud because it is the fastest, cheapest choice out-of-the-box. Those are strengths, but your infrastructure shouldn’t just be based on convenience and low outlay. “I’m bullish on the use of public clouds,” Linthicum admitted, “but I recognize that you still have to determine where this technology fits into your organization, and where it does not.”

Above all, you don’t want to be working with a one-trick-pony provider. You want a host with strong and capable support to help you customize the best possible system.

“I can never believe the fast and accurate service you folks give,” said our client Richard Martin. Our responsiveness indicates how we are defined and empowered by our customers’ successes.

By Kent Roberts