March 16, 2017

Cloud A-Z Part 10: Is their workload right for the cloud?

As much as we’d like to assume every workload is appropriate for the cloud, that’s not necessarily true. There are a multitude of factors that impact moving your customer’s workload to the cloud; and finding information on determining what to move is almost as challenging as the move itself. Both business and technical factors will influence the decision and, in this article, we’ll review both with an eye toward providing you with the best information to help you and your customers determine if their workload is right for the cloud.

Business Considerations

  • User Base – In the current business environment, employees are not necessarily always located in one central location. If they are, an on-premises location may make sense; but if the business supports remote, BYOD, and mobile access, then cloud makes more sense. Cloud is more cost-effective than putting multiple servers in multiple locations and “closer” than having everyone access the central location, resulting in faster data exchange and access.
  • Budget – With the growing popularity of cell phones and the explosive arrival of the iPhone, a competitive answer was needed. Google and the Open Handset Alliance came together to create Android, an Open Source solution designed specifically for mobile devices. The experiment to see if a more flexible operating system would encourage innovation and drive adoption was a success. Android went from a 2.8% global share in 2Q2009 to a 33% market share by 4Q2010 and 86.8% of the market share as of 3Q2016. The ability of this operating system to be customized by manufacturers for a particular device and market is the driving force behind the rapid adoption of the Android OS.
  • Development and Testing – Often, development opportunities are passed over due to the inability to meet cost/benefit ratios imposed by decision-makers. Another challenge with traditional infrastructure is having to wait on IT to provision new resources. This is where IaaS comes into play. It’s a cost-effective and quick way to obtain new/additional infrastructure. Moving dev/test to the cloud is a significant step in mitigating risk and improving the time to completion for new projects. This, in turn, can result in the ability to execute on more opportunities.
  • Avoiding Vendor Lock-In – The phrase “Vendor Lock-In” appears repeatedly as a challenge with traditional infrastructure. This happens when an organization’s infrastructure, processes, data, etc. are inextricably linked to a vendor so moving anything is a painful and extended process. By leveraging a cloud resource built on open standards, organizations gain the comfort of knowing their resources can be moved whenever, wherever with little to no notice.
  • Specialized IT Talent on a Budget – Many organizations find themselves conflicted between the need for specialized IT personnel and the ability to fund them. For these organizations, cloud is the perfect answer. They’ll have access to the skilled personnel who manage their cloud resources for the cost of those resources.
  • Support – Those organizations that struggle to support specialized IT talent may have the same struggle with round-the-clock IT support. Cloud computing offers the same benefit for support that they receive for IT talent. Vendors pool support resources across multiple customers, so 24/7 support becomes affordable for customers who would otherwise not have access to it.
  • Infrastructure Expansion – Modern data centers are a complex undertaking, with considerations that range from security to backup to disaster recovery. Most organizations find the development of a data center, or expansion of a current infrastructure, outside their means. Cloud computing allows them to build out their infrastructure, leveraging the most cutting-edge technologies, for a very modest budget.

Technical Considerations

In many cases, technical considerations are just as important as business drivers – sometimes more so.

  • Variable Loads – Some organizations have widely variable workloads that they must support. They have two options: provide capacity based on peak workloads, leaving much of the available capacity unused for much of the time or providing capacity based on average use and dealing with the potential service degradation during peak workload times. Neither of those is ideal. Cloud computing offers a solution – the ability to scale resources based on current demand.
  • Automation – Traditional models require significant resources when deploying a new infrastructure, from building the data center to deploying the servers and so on. In the cloud computing model, much of this can be automated, reducing the need for on-site manual resources and increasing reliability. How is reliability improved? The reduced need for manual intervention decreases the chance of human error.
  • Resiliency and Redundancy – When an organization implements a cloud computing model, uptime becomes more reliable. In the event of an outage, workloads can automatically be re-routed to alternative cloud vendors.
  • Security – As mentioned in a previous article, security is a partnership between vendors and customers. However, the cloud computing model offers security beyond what most organizations could afford or manage on-site. With increasingly sophisticated attacks taking place, the need for excellent innovative security is necessary and cloud computing can offer that. This is attractive for all sizes of organizations, both for those struggling to manage the risks on their own and for those who wouldn’t be able to afford such high-level security in-house.

When Does it Make Sense to Migrate?

Cloud Workload Graph

Not all workloads are created equal and, as such, not all workloads are right for the cloud. There are some determining factors on if it makes sense to move a workload to the cloud or keep it in-house.

  • Financial Considerations – In many cases, the organization may have existing infrastructure that continues to hold value. In that case, moving to the public cloud may not make financial sense. However, it’s reasonable to consider adding a PaaS and SaaS overlay to create a private cloud, thus leveraging the value in the existing infrastructure.
  • Business Location – If an organization is small and centrally located with a largely consistent demand and basic needs, moving to the cloud may not make sense. However, if the organization is widely disbursed and/or has evolving needs, then a shift to the cloud is more sensible.
  • Compliance – Some organizations must adhere to regulations that define how their data is stored, for example health organizations that fall under HIPAA guidelines. In these cases, a private cloud may be a solid solution, assuming other considerations indicate a move to the cloud is prudent.
  • Network Issues – While network speeds have certainly improved over the years, there is still lag time and latency issues around large files. In cases where file size is a consistent concern, staying in-house may make more sense due to the speed of LAN over internet when large files are being transferred.
  • External Integration – Finally, if there is no need to integrate external data sources or resources into an existing infrastructure, staying on-premises may be perfectly acceptable.

Summary

While cloud is the future of business, not all workloads are suitable for migration to the cloud. Business and technical drivers need to be considered as well as the practicality of implementing for a particular business model. Don’t drive your customers to join the stampede to the cloud just because it’s the most current popular technology – move them to the cloud if it makes sense for the customer’s business.

Contact Us

If you have additional questions about these challenges or would like more information on Arrow’s cloud services, contact ECSCloudServices@arrow.com or call 1.877.558.6677.

 Did You Miss Any of Our Other Articles in the A-Z Series?

Abstracted from Rackspace’s “You Want to Put my Database Where?