The word ‘Cloud’ drives me mad. I don’t particularly like the term. I think it’s already starting to sound archaic and overused and it seems to mean something completely different to everyone. So, before I continue I think I need to be clear on my definition of what ‘true’ cloud actually is.
I regularly host roundtable networking events with senior IT leaders of enterprise organistations, where we discuss our opinions of Public Cloud and the benefits it can bring to organisations in the commercial sector. I wanted to share with you a snippet of some of the things we talk about when it comes to cloud.
A lot of customers I talk to believe IAAS and hosting is Cloud and although I understand their rationale, in my opinion, that isn’t ‘true’ cloud. Cloud, in my view, is the consumption of services from Hyperscalers such as Azure, AWS and Google; services that have the ability to rapidly scale up to cope with a sudden spike in workloads and scale back just as quickly. At ANS we’ve worked with many customers where this scalability is absolutely critical. Just in the same way the National Grid prepares for a surge of power during the half time break of the world cup (when everyone sticks the kettle on at the same time) and retailers need to scale in preparation for the Black Friday, or Boxing Day sales.
Prior to Cloud, organisations had to size their environment, whether on premises, or hosted, to either predict and plan for these spikes, or take a chance and risk their critical systems going down during the most lucrative day of the year. Thankfully, with the elasticity that Public Cloud brings, buying new infrastructure to provision for that one special day is a thing of the past.
Public Cloud is also becoming invaluable when it comes to business intelligence. BI is enabling small, medium and large organisations to make better decisions by accessing big data. Initially only large businesses could afford the cost of using BI software and the infrastructure needed to support it, but thanks to innovations such as SaaS on cloud platforms, this is now accessible to businesses of all sizes. It’s a game changer. It’s clear therefore, that Cloud offers huge advantages to the commercial sector, BUT don’t be fooled into thinking all the hype around cloud means it must be something you adopt. The salesman in me is inclined to say, ‘cloud is amazing, you must adopt it or your competition will leave you for dust,’ but in actual fact, this isn’t always the case. Cloud isn’t suitable for every organisation.
Trying to adopt a cloud first strategy can be an expensive mistake for some organisations. Outsourcing an entire corporate data centre into a cloud service could potentially double the cost and there is no point in investing in Cloud if you have no need for the scalability or development flexibility. For organisations that are moving towards the cloud, it can be difficult to understand which hyperscaler is best for your requirements. So I’ll break it down.
Microsoft Azure is, unsurprisingly, ideal for Microsoft environments such as AD, SQL, Sharepoint and Office 365. So if you’re organisation is heavily dependent on these applications, Azure may be a great fit. On the other hand, AWS and DevOps is a match made in heaven. DevOps techniques are unique and designed to suit the modern age business requirements. They combine very well with the AWS’ flexibility, operation, and wide range of tools and options. They also guarantee streamlining the deployment and automating code updates. Google however, is better suited to organisations that require analytics, search functionality and business intelligence. Analytics and machine intelligence at web-scale have been in Google’s founding DNA since the very early days and the Google Cloud Platform surfaces the same analytical engines invented and used by Google for nearly two decades to help unearth insight in your business and operational environment.
Of course, it is possible to adopt a multi hyperscale architecture to get a best of both worlds approach. A retail customer we’re currently working with has just moved their e-commerce platform onto AWS because it’s closer to the customer and they’re placing their business as usual applications on SharePoint and all their Microsoft based services into Azure. By now, you’ll hopefully have a good insight into the type of discussions we have at our roundtable events. I’ve only stated my opinion in this blog, so feel free to add your comments below and let me know if you agree with me; I’m really keen to find out if you have a different viewpoint.
I’ll be hosting more roundtables later on this year, so keep keep your eyes peeled to join the discussions.