An increasing number of organizations are defaulting to the cloud and cloud storage for their new IT projects, adopting “cloud-first” or “cloud-preferred” strategies. This trend stems from the agility the cloud offers, particularly advantageous for startups and rapidly growing firms needing swift infrastructure development. Despite the widespread promotion of cloud benefits, it is not always the optimal choice.
Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have developed a more nuanced perspective on IT architecture, discovering that the cloud may not be as cost-effective or flexible as initially believed. Contrary to the popular notion of cost savings, the cloud can, in certain scenarios, prove more expensive than on-premise systems, conventional data centers, or co-location.
The issue, as highlighted by Jon Collins, Vice President of Research at analyst GigaOM, lies in insufficient forward planning and inadequate discipline in managing cloud resources. While the cloud is marketed as cost-efficient, its historic perception does not always align with reality. Inappropriate workloads are often migrated to the cloud without a comprehensive cost assessment, leading to uncontrolled cloud expenses.
The emergence of Financial Operations (FinOps) reflects efforts by CIOs to enhance financial governance. Firms pay a premium for the cloud’s flexibility, but this advantage can eventually outweigh the cost-effectiveness of on-premise options. The migration of entire workloads to the cloud, commonly known as lift-and-shift, can result in increased expenses without corresponding flexibility gains.
Certain factors contribute to the increased cost of the cloud. Porting applications not originally designed for the cloud can lead to performance issues and higher expenses. Workloads reliant on non-cloud databases, intense I/O operations, or connections to physical inputs may face challenges in a cloud environment. Connectivity-demanding workloads, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and critical infrastructure applications, may fare better in a local network or data center.
Performance issues may also arise when applications optimized for on-premise use are transferred to the cloud. The process of rewriting these applications for effective cloud utilization can be both costly and disruptive.
From an IT management perspective, cloud infrastructure demands the right tools and skills. While cloud providers offer improved management tools, users have less granular control over their assets, leading to complexity in optimization. Multiple tools are required to fine-tune cloud infrastructure, considering varying vendor performance tiers, availability, and provisioning.
Cloud-native applications, though beneficial, can be more complex than traditional on-premise systems, necessitating additional management resources. CIOs also grapple with a loss of control over IT assets, whether through SaaS applications or shadow IT set up by individual departments.
In terms of data protection and compliance, cloud providers have made significant strides, matching or surpassing on-premise security measures. However, challenges persist in areas such as file-level data protection and compliance with data storage regulations. Customers must invest in backup, recovery, and local data protection.
The alignment of business strategy with cloud usage is crucial. The primary drawback of the cloud often stems from organizations misapplying it to the wrong business problems or failing to optimize its advantages. Cloud adoption should be strategic, integrating seamlessly with business goals and involving a deep understanding of business needs.
Article Credit: ComputerWeekly