Modern companies are looking to host their data and applications on the public cloud in hopes of lowered costs and increased operational efficiency. Learn the ins and outs of cloud-based management — from strategy to software — and how to leverage cloud compute to help you reach your business outcomes faster.
Today’s key drivers for cloud
At Insight, we see businesses leveraging the cloud for several reasons.
- Lowered costs and increased operational efficiency
With recent challenges in the economy, the need for organizations to do more with the existing or lowered budget has become the status quo.
One of the key characteristics of the cloud is the pay-for-what-you-use factor. In the context of cost savings, only paying for what you use reassures organizations that they are not overspending. This first requires that businesses have a good understanding of FinOps, or financial operations, as it relates to cloud usage. It is easy to “move and forget” in the cloud and only later realize that your cloud costs are now higher than the previous costs of your data center. For this reason, cost optimization and financial discipline are critical for a healthy cloud environment.
Another key characteristic is the cost of human resources in regard to the care and feeding of infrastructure. Large cloud providers can take advantage of economies of scale and automation to be able to manage the infrastructure, relieving organizations of the burden of hiring staff that would have had to "take care of" the physical infrastructure.
In an advanced cloud computing class I teach, I tell my students to keep this in mind: When it comes to security, cloud providers have hired some of the best talent in the industry. When you look at the comprehensive nature of security practices in the cloud, it is amazing to see how the cloud providers have addressed many of the concerns that are at the top of every CISO's mind. Even in cases where a cloud provider does not have the services to support specialized security needs, almost every top-tier security product is available to augment the cloud infrastructure to provide the level of security that an organization is looking to support (including compliance attestations, validations, blueprints, policy validations, etc.).
It is crucial to remember that this is a shared responsibility model. The cloud does not solve all your security problems but instead positions you to be successful in creating a security posture that your organization will be happy with.
- Platform as a Service/Managed Services
Another popular strategy is to take advantage of a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering or Managed Services. For example, AWS RDS allows users to create and manage databases without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure or typical DBA activities. Moving to PaaS allows organizations to focus on the solutions they are looking to create, and it allows them to apply the rule of innovation to be able to take advantage of upgrades or improvements in the services over time. This is because service providers manage the complexity of the underlying software and infrastructure, and you just focus on your solution and, of course, pay for what you use.
- Cloud agility
Finally, the agility and elasticity of the cloud allows you to test out new solutions, new technology, and new approaches — without having to acquire and set up expensive hardware or software environments. Large cloud providers have hundreds of services that allow for creating componentized architecture where you can replace or try different solutions for your functional components as your business demands change.
The role of cloud software
As I described above, cloud software is really about simplicity. PaaS helps to abstract the complexity of infrastructure and software configuration and update. Software as a Service (SaaS) goes one step further to abstract even the software where you only focus on use (e.g., Salesforce CRM).
In a few simple words, the answer here is managed services. The focus of cloud software (or managed services) allows users to prioritize creating solutions without worrying about configuration of the platform. Of course, certain users may want more control or less control, and the cloud supports that model too. If you do want more control over software installations, upgrades, customizations, and operating systems, then Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is for you.
Is a multicloud management strategy key to success?
There are two potential answers to this question.
If by multicloud we mean organizations using multiple clouds, then yes, it is important to not put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. It’s better to take advantage of the best capabilities from each of the cloud providers for your particular use case or cases. For example, there may be issues of technical debt where it makes sense to use one cloud provider and another where cloud-native services help you to innovate faster. There are also cost considerations for things like data movement (or data gravity). Egress is a common charge within a cloud provider's pricing model, so that can sometimes thwart the idea of multiple cloud since it may not be cost-effective to move data around too much. There are also considerations of business continuity. Sometimes, having your entire business in one cloud may not meet your business continuity goals.
If by multicloud we mean distributed or federated cloud, then yes, it is also a key to success. As we think about the virtualization of "services" or "functions" — and how they’re being containerized — this can be a winning strategy. Organizations can easily support a deploy-anywhere, run-everywhere model and benefit from the ease of scalability and distribution to the edge. Of course, there are challenges of security: telemetry (monitoring) and, yes, egress for data that moves outside of a single cloud provider. The big benefit here is that distributed or federated cloud models support the "real" essence of compute, which is hybrid in nature. Data centers aren’t going away anytime soon, and devices continue to grow at an accelerated rate on the edge, so these hybrid models are a big part of the future of intelligent edge applications.
Ready to realize the benefits of a cloud management strategy?
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