Efficiency. Agility. Productivity. Businesses everywhere are trying to do more with fewer resources in less time. In the age of everyday disruption and continuous innovation, the public cloud allows business owners to focus on what is most important — their core business.
While few can deny how prevalent the public cloud is becoming in the IT landscape, some businesses are still hesitant to forego their on-prem, private or hybrid cloud solutions and conduct public cloud migration.
Above all, public clouds have a clear edge in security, reliability and elasticity. If your organization is still hesitant to commit to the cloud, you need to know what you’re missing — the time to fully embrace the cloud is now!
The public cloud
Cloud computing has improved through new, innovative servers such as the public cloud model. Cloud service providers utilize the ubiquity of the internet to provide services relating to infrastructure, storage, servers, physical security and businesses. These providers own and operate facilities containing shared physical hardware and offer this to companies based on their needs. The pricing model varies based on the business’s supply, demand, storage, performance and resilience needs.
Popular public cloud services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. While the technology is similar among these, each cloud solution provides different advantages and disadvantages based on an organization’s business needs.
Public cloud costs
An on-premise model requires the IT department of a company to predict the maximum load on systems, then purchase and monitor the systems every day. Capacity is idle when they are over-allocated. If they are underestimated, customer satisfaction plunges due to poor performance. Such was the case when the US government announced the Affordable Care Act portals.
Another disadvantage of the on-premise model is that a system’s capacity and performance cannot be purchased on real-time needs. This means that if a company’s peak purchasing season is for two months a year, it has to maintain the same level of capacity for the other ten, creating expensive unused capacity.
Public cloud providers offer services on a pay-as-you-go model, enabling the customer to purchase only the capacity needed. So during the peak holiday season, a company can expand its capacity and then dial it back out of season, creating a cheaper alternative to the on-premise model.
On-premise equipment is generally purchased with capital expense money, while public cloud costs are shifted to operational expenses. These providers also employ teams to build and manage the logistics behind the scenes, allowing a company to focus on their core competencies.
Not only does utilizing a public cloud allow a company’s time to be placed elsewhere, it is also more cost effective to let the providers manage the cloud’s technical side. Cloud provider IT teams have advanced technology and training, which allows them to bring better components to the marketplace fast and cheaper. In doing this, cloud providers have built their environments to focus on security, reliability and performance.
|Hardware||Purchased in advance||Owned and maintained by cloud provider|
|Software and setup||Maintained by dedicated IT staff||Maintained by cloud provider|
|Patches, updates and security||Maintained by IT staff||Maintained by cloud provider|
|High availability||Requires duplication of hardware, software and networking||Offered by the cloud provider for nominal costs in multiple regions around the globe|
|Payment||Upfront costs and ongoing maintenance||Pay as you go|
|Business expense||Capital expense||Operating expense|
Public cloud setup
A vast majority of the public cloud runs on a virtualization model. This setup involves logical servers deployed as software, allowing physical servers to run up to hundreds of virtual servers on a single piece of equipment. As these systems are virtual, they can be started and stopped in a matter of minutes.
With the on-premise model, the business often has to plan, budget, purchase, receive, unpack, install, configure, test, monitor and maintain that same gear. Typically these steps take months and force businesses into a position where they are coerced into negotiating and accepting long-term contracts.
|Plan, budget, purchase, receive, unpack, install, configure, test, monitor and maintain hardware and software||Spin up systems in minutes|
The public cloud operates as a shared ownership model. The cloud providers own the facilities, power, cooling, physical computer equipment and underlying software that runs it all. The data centers use state-of-the-art, redundant networks and routinely update the equipment and monitor it all for issues. Therefore, the business still owns the installation, configuration and management of the business application components.
Historically, IT spent over half its budget on network and systems engineers to do the work performed by the cloud provider’s IT staff today. Despite having a substantial budget, the IT department was always understaffed and unable to meet its obligations.
After migrating to the public cloud, the business can restructure their organization to focus on teams with appropriate skill sets to build and manage applications that grow and make more money for their business, while delegating the non-core competency work to the cloud provider.
|IT and network engineers dedicated to the IT systems||IT systems managed by the cloud provider|
|Hardware becomes obsolete and must be replaced||Usually running on state-of-the art-hardware|
Economies of scale
The public cloud is multi-tenant and offers enormous economies of scale unmatched by most on-premise data centers. Businesses get the latest infrastructure optimized for their needs because it is purchased in bulk by the cloud providers. Companies buy smaller chunks of the infrastructure, based on statistical models showing each tenant’s needs as they differ over scale and time.
This model includes network access, operating system software, load balancing, firewalls, cloud delivery networks and hundreds of other technologies that may never be affordable for small and medium businesses. Small companies can start with essential services, then opportunistically add more functionality as their business grows.
|Must plan, purchase, install and run all components||Take advantage of best-in-class equipment shared between customers|
|Some technology is not affordable||Access to state-of-the-art technology at a reasonable cost|
A massive opportunity with the public cloud is the R&D scenario. A business can incrementally make the service work the way they want by experimenting with specific settings and applications, which can then be expanded to the existing environment or migrated onto a new production environment. If the service does not work the way a business wants , it can be shut down immediately while the business only pays for the small increment of time used.
The system then releases the CPU cores, memory and storage, and stops billing the business. The business only pays for the time they use the system and there are usually no long-term contracts. With the on-premise model, however, this same equipment would be retained at a high cost, and would require the business to sign long-term contracts.
Since it is so easy to create an environment, it is important to embed an oversight and governance process to ensure the business is optimizing its utilization.
|Environments process through the same plan, install, run cycle||Spin up a test environment, conduct the test and shut it down with just a few keystrokes|
|R&D requires non-refundable infrastructure investments||Pay-as-you-go models provide a simple way to lower overall costs|
Public cloud scalability
A small business can expand its networks globally in minutes using the public cloud. Cloud providers have data centers linked to each other around the world. If a US business suddenly discovers a huge market in the Baltic region, it can leverage the public cloud near the Baltic region, shifting its computing resources closer to its customers without negatively impacting the US offering.
The public cloud also makes it very simple to provide a robust computing environment worldwide, including compliance with local laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). By contrast, there is a high level of effort required to open an on-premises data center in the Baltic region.
|Negotiate and sign contracts for hosting in each site||Select region from command line or menu|
|Purchase, setup, and maintain gear in each site||Hosting centers, network infrastructure, power and cooling are managed by the cloud provider|
|Hire staff to maintain gear in each site|
Redundancy and uptime
On-premise models require businesses to own or lease data centers in different cities (or countries), pay for redundant network connections, procure equipment for all of this and keep it maintained. These various costs skyrocket when a business must build for high availability, creating further disadvantages — especially for small businesses.
Public cloud providers guarantee more than 99% uptime and no risk of failure since their systems are interconnected. In the instance where one server fails, these systems automatically transfer to another system in another data center with no downtime.
Mission-critical systems can be designed for fault tolerance to ensure all components remain online during the worst disaster scenarios. This allows businesses to design their systems for high availability to take advantage of the cloud provider’s coverage network.
|Uptime is expensive||Public cloud providers usually offer this for a fraction of the total cost of ownership|
|Building infrastructure to support five-nines requires redundant systems in multiple locations|
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