All right, it’s happening. You’ve got your head in the clouds and your company is migrating to the cloud. You have done the analysis and it’s a foregone conclusion as to the cost savings of cloud vs maintaining your current data center(s). You realize that there’s no value in dedicated resources maintaining physical servers on prem. Cloud is now a requirement to support agile business processes and shift to operational vs capital expenditures. With the massive exodus to the cloud, 80% of companies are predicted to close their traditional data centers by 2025, according to Gartner Research. Getting on the cloud can be managed in three main ways – via the public cloud, the private cloud, or a hybrid cloud model.
Automatically, you are thinking migration to the public cloud is the way to go. You are bombarded with AWS, Azure, and Google cloud offerings. The public cloud is the largest of all the cloud delivery models. In this model, all the resources used to deliver these services are owned and maintained by the third party service provider (e.g. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM cloud and others) and are shared by all the subscribers, and delivered over the internet.
Alternatively, you can consider a private cloud. A private cloud is a suite of hosting services that are targeted towards just one company at a time, where all resources are used exclusively by one organization. Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure like servers and data centers may be located on premises or may be maintained in a remote location and managed by a third party vendor, just for a single company. Consider the private cloud as an extension of a company’s IT department with the help of a third party service.
Also, you may consider the hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud is basically using both public and private cloud services together depending on the requirements of your enterprise applications. As an example, mission-critical ERP enterprise software runs on a private cloud, while applications like marketing and data analysis tools that require less compliance controls may be run on the public cloud. This may seem like the best of both worlds strategy, but then again, maybe not. While it is possible to leverage the rapid scaling up and down of the public cloud, and the enhanced ability to manage regulatory compliance with the private cloud, it can be difficult to manage disparate cloud environments and the split of application workloads and data between clouds, requiring additional training of employees and associated costs.
There is also the possibility of the multi cloud. With this approach, companies use more than one cloud services provider at the same time along with their own datacenter and private cloud infrastructure, depending on application requirements. This is an advanced strategy choice for larger companies who may avoid cloud services provider lock-in and leverage one provider’s advantages, tools, and pricing, over another, depending on the requirements of their enterprise applications.
With the public cloud option, your IT Infrastructure can be up and running in days with all appropriate hardware, operating systems, storage, software, security, and disaster recovery implemented. This is great for fast-growing companies that need to scale their operations quickly and there’s low to zero investment in buying, setting up and maintaining infrastructure. You have great flexibility in managing your cloud spend as you can quickly scale up as usage increases and scale back down if there is an un-forecasted drop in demand for a given application or suite of applications. In addition, this near instant availability of scalable compute resources will allow your software development team to adopt the latest highly efficient DEVOPS methodologies.
So it’s a done deal, you’re going with a leading public cloud provider. Wait, not so fast. With a public cloud, cloud security is shared, therefore the cyber threat surface is also shared and you really don’t know exactly where your company’s valuable data and intellectual property is being stored and managed. As your usage grows and your applications get more complex and integrated, your monthly costs can add up quickly. In fact, there are so many add on products and up-charges offered by the public cloud providers, your bill can quickly get impossibly difficult to decipher to the point where you need to hire a full time cloud bill administrator.
So now, let’s look at the private cloud option. A private cloud is ideal for companies that are highly concerned about data security, data privacy, and are required to follow strict data compliance regulations, such as PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA. Private cloud is a near necessity decision for financial institutions, Health care organizations, Entertainment, and eCommerce platform companies.
Private cloud infrastructure technology has advanced significantly in the last few years. It is now possible to have most, if not all of the advantages of the public cloud, and with a higher standard of regulatory compliance and security, at a lower total cost with the private cloud option. This is made possible with modern Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) IT architecture environments.
Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) combines common datacenter hardware using locally attached storage resources with intelligent software. HCI converges the entire datacenter stack, including compute, storage, storage networking, and virtualization. Software that is similar to what is running the public cloud environments runs on each server node of the private cloud, distributing all operating functions across the cluster for superior reliability, uptime, performance and resilience. Complex and expensive data center legacy infrastructure is replaced by a platform running on turnkey, industry-standard servers that enable enterprises to start small and scale one compute or storage node at a time.
For organizations that want the agility of public cloud infrastructure but want the security and peace of mind of hosting the hardware on their own premises or offsite, the hyper-converged infrastructure has emerged as the dominant hardware platform for hosting private clouds, and the latest DEVOPS and DEV/SEC/OPS application development environments. Now, a private cloud built with HCI delivers the same scale and self-service benefits as a public cloud but does so with a modernized architecture designed for a single enterprise. A private cloud offers the business maximum control over their own infrastructure including all enabling technologies including software defined Infrastructure as Code (IaC). IaC allows a development team to declare and configure ready to run custom IT environments through templates containing configuration files. These environments allow for fast changes to compute, storage and networks as required, just as with a public cloud. Enterprises can take advantage of advanced technologies such as containers, software defined networks, cybersecurity tools and processes as aggressively as they wish. Other advantages of choosing a private cloud include:
- Dedicated infrastructure: Many organizations prefer their own, dedicated infrastructure, so shifting out data and services to a public cloud isn’t a viable option. The dedicated approach provides the peace of mind that IT leaders need and also ensures that the company realizes the numerous benefits of private clouds
- Deployment flexibility: The location of the services and data for a private cloud deployment is flexible. If an enterprise has the required space and inclination, the installation can take place on site. If it wants it off site, that can happen as well using a service provider. The benefit is that regardless of location, the power of cloud services will be available to the company.
- Increased agility: Digital companies are only as successful as they are agile. Private clouds can scale up quickly making it fast and easy to add new applications, users, capabilities or entire lines of business. In addition, an organization can purchase what it requires right now but then add infrastructure when required so there is no need to purchase assets that sit unused until needed.
- Highly secure: One of the benefits of private clouds is that they are very secure – often significantly more secure than a public cloud because it is on dedicated hardware.
- Customizable tools and processes: When companies sign up for public cloud applications or services, they get what they get and there is very little ability, if any at all, to customize. This typically means a company must change their business processes to match the cloud service. With a private cloud, it can fit every need because it’s customized to the business.
- Meets compliance challenges: Public clouds do not work well with businesses that have extensive industry and compliance regulations. Conversely, private clouds can be designed with the exact compliance requirements needed for a given security framework, while still giving organizations the power of the cloud.
- Provides value to companies of all sizes: The scalability and efficiency of private clouds makes them ideal for large companies. However, many small or mid-size businesses that are anticipating a growth spurt might choose a private cloud to ensure they can control costs and have the resources they need to grow.
- More cost effective than public clouds: Any large company or operation that is growing rapidly might find the benefits of private clouds to be a better fit because the costs will be more predictable. The organization has total control over the infrastructure, so additional costs can be better controlled.
- Custom deployment for each organization: Each private cloud implementation is different, just as each company is unique. Private clouds reflect the needs of an organization because the infrastructure, networks, software are all purpose built with a single company in mind.
- Seamless integration with the public cloud: As mentioned earlier, private cloud deployments can be difficult to manage because of disparate cloud environments and the split of application workloads and data between clouds, requiring additional training of employees and associated costs. Now, an HCI based private cloud can be front ended with Acropolis Enterprise Cloud, PowerFlex(VxFlex/ScaleIO) VxRack / VxRail vendor HCI management systems, or the open source OpenStack open standard cloud computing platform that will allow organizations to manage various cloud ecosystems from a single, unified platform, provision and deploy applications with one click, create and automate app blueprints, and empower users with a self-service catalog of VM templates and images.
If all this sounds compelling for going with a private cloud, there is “one more thing.” Now, there is a brand new paradigm, called Technology as a Service (TaaS). With the TaaS model, you can have most, if not all, of the advantages of a public cloud, with your own private cloud, at a monthly cost that is on par, if not significantly lower, than the popular public cloud options. With this new TaaS model, you can also have bundled audited regulatory compliance specific to your industry, dedicated cybersecurity monitoring, backup, and disaster recovery (DR) added, As a Service, with a low monthly plan.
If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of your cloud migration choices, and the new paradigm option of TaaS for your own private cloud IT infrastructure, feel free to contact the author, Lon Mehlman via LinkedIn or at 213 325 5455.