The potential benefits of Cloud Based Solutions are very enticing for organizations of all sizes. However, it won’t be prudent to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to cloud solutions. Each organization has its own unique needs and each cloud based solution has its pros and cons.
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The foremost question every organization’s management must ask itself is, do we really need a cloud based solution? Given the inherent benefits of the cloud, the answer to this question will highly likely be in yes. This should now kick off the phase where each organization asks itself the following questions.
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Full or Partial Transition
This will be the most critical question for any entity that is planning to move over the cloud. One option is to completely transfer the data over the cloud. Another alternative would be to maintain the business critical and strategically important data in-house and shift the less sensitive data over the cloud.
Partial transition will be a tricky choice because then, a well-coordinated effort would be required to first classify the data on the basis of its relative importance. In this step, it is crucial to seek the input of all major departments of the organization so that an all-inclusive classification can be performed.
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On-Premise v/s Outsourced
This is the next crucial question an organization should ask itself. Whether to set up a data center in house or source it from a Cloud Service Provider (CSP). This will largely be a financial cum administrative decision and what’s important is to take a mid to long term view and not get carried away with shortsightedness.
The “pay as you use” billing model of CSPs sounds very appealing in the short-term and it certainly is. However, as the number of users and quantity of data over the outsourced cloud increases, an organization’s cloud bill can touch astronomical levels.
Another factor to consider is that the cloud tenant will never get to own the hardware, regardless of its cloud services bill. In the long-term, it may be financially more viable to deploy an on-premise cloud infrastructure. The entity will also have to consider the skill level of its IT staff, if it goes for an in-house cloud solution.
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The next factor to consider especially in the case of a public cloud is that storing data and moving it to and fro carries costs. Regardless of the cost element, as the operations of an entity expand and its life span increases, the quantity of data can quickly balloon to virtually unmanageable levels.
Once the business critical data grows in size, its mobility also becomes a serious issue. Therefore, each organization must choose the CSP after due diligence as it is a strategic decision. The highly sensitive data will have to be housed on premise, as security over the public cloud is challenging and complicated.
When organizations move to the public cloud, the internet acts as the enabler. The internet bandwidth is being shared across millions of users and the efficiency can greatly reduce in peak hours. When moving to the public cloud, latency issues will have to be considered when manipulating data.
Many strategic decisions of organizations are made on the basis of data. When organizations execute complex data computations over the cloud, latency can touch unacceptable levels. This can hurt organizational efficiency and may even compromise service quality.
When moving to the public cloud, latency issues will have to be considered by an organization. If an entity goes for an on-premise solution, it will only work effectively if the internal network is powerful enough to handle the heavy workload. If latency is a major concern, an in-house solution will be the right choice.
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The issues of data security are a serious and grave concern. These concerns have been elevated by the recent data breaches over public cloud networks. When considering a public cloud solution, data security should be a key consideration.
Even if an organization decides in favor of the public cloud, it will have to consider maintaining some critical and sensitive data in house. The “shared responsibility” model of CSPs poses a lot of challenges for medium and large sized organizations, where the number of users can reach hundreds or thousands.
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Hybrid Cloud as a Solution
In view of the above factors and challenges, perhaps the most prudent approach for an organization is to go for a hybrid cloud model. Let’s highlight some major characteristics of this model.
- Store sensitive and business critical data in-house, instead of shifting it over the public cloud.
- Maintain data related to critical business processes in-house, so that computational legacy is avoided.
- Shift latency independent data over the public cloud and conduct computations thereon.
- Maintain infrastructure for core business processes on premises.
- The processes of a lesser priority that do not affect service delivery can be moved to the cloud.
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Multi-Cloud Approach as the Future
So far, we have mainly drawn a comparison between an outsourced and on-premise cloud computing solution. The future belongs to multi-cloud infrastructures in which the reliance is not on a single CSP, rather an optimal mix of cloud solution providers.
This truly sounds like a daunting challenge because so far, organizations had hardly come to terms with the process of migrating to the cloud itself. At the heart of this approach lies the pursuit for specialization. Each present CSP has some sort of competitive edge over the others.
However, this edge is somewhat diluted by another limitation because there is no such thing as a perfect cloud solution so far. This is partly the beauty of cloud industry and it is constantly driving CSPs to come up with out of the box solutions to optimally serve end-user needs.
A Multi Cloud Mix
The way forward is to choose the CSP on the basis of its unique competitive advantage, provided it aligns with the long term goals of the organization. A challenge that still needs to be overcome is how to integrate the cloud solutions of multiple service providers into a cohesive environment.
Well, this is exactly where the pivotal moment of the cloud computing industry lies. The users of today’s cloud based solutions, like any other product or service, are not constrained by factors such as brand loyalty. All the user wants is an optimal solution for the problem or process, regardless of where it comes from.
The future survival and sustainability of CSPs will hinge around their capability to integrate their solutions with their competing cloud service providers, no matter how painful it may sound in theory. Till such time, most organizations will have to make do with a mix of in-house and public cloud solutions.