Demystifying “Cloud-First Strategy” for techies

Disclaimer: – This note was written by me ( Mayank Nauni) in my personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are solely my own and do not reflect the view of my employer or my preference towards any of the OEMs.

 

Quite often techis confuse the “cloud first” strategy with “all on cloud” strategy; believe me these two strategies are miles apart from each other and can be disastrous if applied wrongly. The “cloud-first” approach has altered into a “cloud-only” approach. By concentrating merely on the cloud, we may ignore the better alternatives, such as on-premises deployments.

Cloud may not be perfect for everything, but it certainly is appropriate for some applications for every enterprise, having said that we can’t deny the fact that most businesses will be definitely moving away from on premises in the future but not completely as not all workloads would fit on the cloud; so it would be fairly 60:40 ratio (60% on cloud and 40% on on-premise) or 70:30 ratio depending on every individual enterprise.

Let us try to breakdown these two policies and see the major difference between the two and later discuss the best policy i.e. hybrid cloud policy.

 

Cloud-First Policy

Cloud-first policy, which means that the enterprise will at least consider, if not prioritize, the cloud (public cloud predominantly) for all forthcoming deployments. Cloud-first strategy in the simplest terms is that when your enterprise has any new project or refresh in pipeline your first instinct should be to explore if that project / refresh can be deployed and managed within a cloud service provider’s network; in a more stringent cloud-first policy adoption, you may have to get ready with a fair bit or explanation should you decide to host the application on-premise.

As I have published in my articles before (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cloud-migration-approach-basics-mayank-nauni/) you will have to take care of the well-known factors before moving your apps to the cloud: –

·       Security

·       Business Impact

·       App’s architectural Complexity on cloud

·       Platform compatibility / portability

·       Performance on cloud ( app response time)

·       SLA

·       Licensing model

·       Data hosting limitation

These pointers are self-explanatory and may trigger a discussion if the application should really go to the cloud or should stay on-premise. Sadly, most of the cloud migrations today happen in the below mentioned fashion:

Image courtesy A Cloud Guru ( visit https://info.acloud.guru/faas-and-furious for more witty humor)

Remember the application architecture must be refined and re-defined for an optimized utilization of the cloud environment.

Cloud Only Policy

Well the policy says it all, you must consider cloud (often perceived as a public cloud) for all new projects / refresh coming your way.

The enterprises following this policy usually adopt cloud solutions realizing that cloud adoption may have inherent constraints and they are willing to redeploy their infra / application with respect to those constraints.

Forbes also foresee a lot of enterprises going that way

https://www.forbes.com/sites/vmware/2017/04/07/cloud-2-0-companies-move-from-cloud-first-to-cloud-only/#6587ed894d5e

This strategy may not be applicable to all due to the factors mentioned in the cloud-first strategy.

Hybrid Cloud based Cloud first / only policy

Hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment which uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms. By allowing workloads to move between private and public clouds as computing needs and costs change, hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options.

Using a hybrid cloud not only allows enterprises to scale computing resources, it also eliminates the need to make massive capital expenditures to handle short-term spikes in demand as well as when the business needs to free up local resources for more sensitive data or applications. Enterprises will pay only for resources they temporarily use instead of having to purchase, configure and maintain additional resources and equipment which could remain idle over long periods of time.

The major components of a Hybrid Cloud are:-

–       Software Defined Networking

–       Software Defined Storage

–       Virtualized Computing

–       Orchestration

–       Self Service Portal

Major IaaS leaders are also promoting this model: –

https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmoorhead/2017/03/01/with-its-latest-outage-amazon-web-services-is-helping-to-sell-hybrid-it/#1bc0f6885c0d

The biggest challenge for the enterprises is to achieve consistency on the four major areas across every cloud they use.

–       Networking

–       Security

–       Analytics

–       Management

Hyper-converged infra may be first step towards the hybrid cloud for Small and Medium business, a very interesting comparison between cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure here: –

https://www.stratoscale.com/blog/hyperconvergence/hyperconverged-infrastructure-not-cloud/

A very interesting read by the Cloud Council on this topic:-

http://www.cloud-council.org/deliverables/CSCC-Practical-Guide-to-Hybrid-Cloud-Computing.pdf

 

Conclusion

Cloud adoption is inevitable because of the numerous benefits it brings along but we must be mindful in choosing the best for the environment rather than trying to fit square peg in a round hole.

Hybrid cloud computing is a “best of all possible worlds” platform, delivering all the benefits of cloud computing – flexibility, scalability and cost efficiencies – with the lowest possible risk of data exposure.

Irrespective of the adopted cloud policy the enterprises should consider multi-cloud approach to reduce reliance on any single vendor, increasing flexibility through choice, and mitigating against disasters; though this strategy can be very complex due to too many moving parts in it but then it is weighing advantages over disadvantages.

Enterprises should also consider cloud products which would easily port workload back to on-premise data center should there be a need in future. Major IaaS vendors in recent years embraced integrating their public cloud infrastructure with customers’ on-premises resources. Vendors are creating tools that work across these environments and they’re partnering with companies that have strong ties in enterprise data centers (Vmware, Microsoft, Cisco, RedHat to name a few).

The enterprises must regularly reassess their cloud infrastructure, whether Public, Private or Hybrid, to ensure that the cloud delivers on its promise. Since there are different security and management demands for each of these cloud models.

Cloud adoption wouldn’t eliminate on-premise hosting, but the on-premise IT infra architecture must follow the private cloud road-map, it is not an option anymore but a requirement to provide same level of services, flexibility and agility as a public cloud.

 

Other Interesting Reads: –

http://www.cloud-council.org/deliverables/CSCC-Practical-Guide-to-Hybrid-Cloud-Computing.pdf

https://blog.gigamon.com/2018/02/12/cloud-security-pitfall-understanding-shared-responsibility-model/?utm_content=buffer3716f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

https://www.enterpriseinnovation.net/article/malaysia-airlines-goes-all-cloud-tcs-613097377

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