The advantages of cloud computing have been talked about for years in the pages of this magazine. Yes, massive scaling, redundancy and data availability are benefits, but the primary driver has always been cost. Companies were told they could abandon their data centers — or significantly reduce them — and move their applications to the cloud, while cloud providers provided the infrastructure at a fraction of what running a data center costs.
Along with touting cloud benefits, vendors also used fear-mongering to move companies to the cloud, after using the same tactics to move companies to Agile, then DevOps; saying a company’s competitors will drive them out of business if they don’t complete this digital transformation, and fast. Full disclosure: SD Times likely oversold this, along with tech media as a whole, as a must-have for survival. But now, years into cloud computing, many organizations are coming out from the ether and taking a more sober look at cloud computing. And many are glad they did not abandon their data centers, where they’re starting to bring cloud-native service platforms behind their firewall.
“Companies are re-evaluating their cloud strategies, as costs are going up and the extra complexity around cloud services leads many companies not knowing the actual cost of running in the cloud,” said Glenn Sullivan, co-founder of SnapRoute, which has created a cloud-native network operating system. “It looks like a retreat from the cloud, but it’s actually a smarter look at what we’re putting into clouds. Certain workloads have to be in certain places, and we want to bring cloud flexibility on-premises, to allow for the same kind of API-level structure you’d get in the cloud.”
There’s more to cloud than compute. There are all the others services you have to run that quickly can add to the cost. The larger your cloud footprint, and the more services you require to run and maintain your applications, the greater the costs. And they can escalate quickly.
Jonathan Sullivan, CTO at DNS provider NS1, said, “The best thing about cloud, there are efficiencies to a point. You push a button and you get a server. You don’t have buy a thing and ship it to a data center and send someone over there with a CD to install the operating system.” When NS1 was starting out. Sullivan said. “All of our prototyping was done in Digital Ocean and Amazon six years ago because we just didn’t need to worry about the infrastructure and you scale later. And after scaling, the cost economics no longer work in your favor. Amazon can only go so low with pricing before their margins disappear.”
Further, the complexities of new software architectures have opened new attack vectors for hackers, which also is affecting company decisions regarding the cloud.
“People will never trust outsourcing security,” Sullivan said. “They need to have their security team. They’ve made heavy investments in appliances, and things like intrusion detection and WAF, so it makes sense for us to just give our customers the software they can run behind their existing security perimeter that they know, they trust, which they have teams managing.”
So these companies and others are seeing companies sliding back into private cloud. Sullivan said the biggest indicator of this was Amazon’s announcement of Outposts, which are Amazon rack servers you can run locally get the advantage of AWS in your data center.
Modern private clouds — even as part of a hybrid cloud implementation — allow organizations to have their workloads span private cloud, on-premises, and public clouds, and often, multi-cloud setups. “The previous hybrid cloud solution was more like, I’ll keep my data warehouse on-prem, because it makes sense, and I’ll do some stuff in the cloud, and now it’s becoming — with OpenStack and VMware — your company infrastructure is now as flexible and immutable as the cloud stuff. The benefits have spread in both directions,” Sullivan explained.
Companies today are building their businesses to run both in the cloud and on-premises. Banks, financial institutions and older enterprises likely will never move fully to the cloud. They’ll run those workloads in the cloud that make sense, and where they can find efficiencies, but they will retain data centers for those things that don’t make sense.
There is a lot at stake regarding a cloud migration. Before racing in, organizations should evaluate what makes sense for them, and what does not.