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The Public Cloud Honeymoon


I still love a good conversation around IO and processing power, within esoteric circles of course. Years of infrastructure refresh projects and infrastructure management have made me appreciate the evolution of compute hardware and storage. But after entering the mystical area of Public Cloud management, I've got a whole new range of alluring features and benefits gaining my affection.

Instead of caring about how fast a platform can perform with almost zero latency, the new world of Public Cloud management is offering up Application Index scores, dynamic scaling to meet demand and billing optimisation, to name but a few. What's cooler than seeing a service scale to meet demand, measuring the experience an end user should be receiving, and seeing the customer is only paying for what they need, when they need it?

OK, it might not sound that cool, and to be honest it can be a difficult road to travel when moving into and managing Public Cloud. But how long can you deny using it?

I was a bit of a sceptic around its value, and when I hear the vendor spout the benefits, the little voice in my head would normally go "yeah, yeah, of course it does". But after reviewing a number of cloud strategies generated by ViFX and now actively managing Public Cloud, I've managed to observe and realise a number of those benefits for our own customers.

So enough with the Public Cloud Kool-aid. I thought I should share a story of real value a customer received, and offer up some challenges and considerations when moving into Public Cloud.

A real-world happy customer story

One of our customers who happens to use SQL Azure PaaS, had a requirement to have a replica of a production database in another country. Think of what you would do in the old world of infrastructure management. You'd find a provider, get an architect, buy the hardware and software, establish a fast datalink, and then perhaps fly someone over to configure, test and troubleshoot. In a typical situation I expect this would take a number of months.

Just consider the huge amount of time and cost this old delivery mechanism would generate. In the new world, this only took a number hours! The speed at which you can deploy apps and workloads is phenomenal, however this does create its own set of challenges.

So what are some of the challenges and considerations?

1) If workloads are forklifted into Public Cloud:
  • There is far less visibility and control
  • Any issues carried into Public Cloud are generally exacerbated and harder to troubleshoot
  • Workloads should be clean, right-sized and optimised before migration
2) If simply moving into IaaS, you will realise significant savings by right-sizing the workloads prior

3) Please spend time creating a cloud strategy

4) Considerations when architecting your consumption:
  • Design for outages
  • Utilise SaaS where possible
  • Should you factor in intra-cloud DR? Be mindful that a multi-cloud solution limits innovation and increases expense.
  • What toolsets will you use to manage consumption, availability and performance?
  • How will you manage your costs? Bill shock is common. It's easy to sprawl, and having thousands of lines of billable items to wade through is difficult.
5) Organisational change:
  • Staff need new skills in this new paradigm. How will you train and transition your infrastructure staff? Your staff will require scripting expertise and I believe they will need to engage with the business more.
So, there are lots of things to consider and some challenges which are not trivial. People and processes need to adapt for this technology change, which highlights the importance of planning. Hopefully some of the challenges and considerations above give you some food for thought when considering your own path. Good luck!

What are some of the challenges you've come across in your move to Public Cloud? Let us know your thoughts below.

Author: Shaun Webber

Shaun’s focus is on Infrastructure as a Service, virtualisation and business continuity, helping clients gain optimum performance from their IT environment.

04 March 2015 / 0 Comments