Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Vineet Jain

Cost of the Cloud

Cloud computing is more than just another storage tier. Imagine if you’re able to scale up 10x just to handle seasonal volumes or rely on a true disaster-recovery solution without upfront capital.

Although the pay-as-you-go pricing model of cloud computing makes it a noticeable expense, it’s the only solution for many use cases that were previously unthinkable. Costs affiliated with the cloud may be rising, but enterprises not willing to explore and embrace this opportunity may lose out big time, as competitors are able to lower operating costs and, in turn, lower their prices.

Determining the Necessity of the Cloud

Don’t just jump into a cloud-framework solution without research. A large amount of planning is necessary to ensure an efficient and cost-effective migration.

Be sure to answer these three questions before moving to the cloud:

1. What are your company’s compliance requirements?

comply

Some industries, such as Healthcare and Finance, have stricter regulations than others. Data security is important for every organization and individual; however, even strict requirements such as the Federal Information Security Act of 2013 can be addressed with a cloud solution. Breaking a compliance regulation can be disastrous and costly, so ensure compliance needs are met over anything else. Note, keeping some data on premises may be your only option in some cases.

2. Where are you in your application-refresh cycle?

Most enterprises work with dozens of proprietary applications, and a legacy application that wasn’t designed to move to the cloud will likely be a costly investment. In these cases, align the move of specific workloads with refresh cycles to ensure the proper project management process can be performed.

3. How well versed is IT?

Training and development need to start at the IT level. A weak Data Management team or static devops process adds to the associated costs of cloud computing. Be sure every team member understands both on-site and cloud data storage processes. Additionally, all lines of business need to be involved in the migration process to avoid any loss of resources. Once you’ve determined that cloud services are the right way to go for your company, it’s time to think about the costs.

Establishing Baseline Cloud Costs

Comparing costs of cloud services across different providers can be frustrating, and mapping use cases to compute types (such as CPU, flash, etc.) — especially new ones — can be difficult. With both cloud and data transmit prices constantly fluctuating, elastic load balancing is the best way to optimize costs. Capacity on both the internal and cloud frameworks can be adjusted and shifted constantly. It’s more work than static private infrastructure, but it’s a much more dynamic approach to business.

Once again, DevOps training will be the key to reducing costs. Low monthly subscription fees can deceptively make data storage seem like less of a concern, but unused space needs to be sought out and deleted aggressively to avoid high recurring overhead costs. Planning and training are the keys to successful and cost-effective migrations. The cost savings don’t come from a blind move onto the bandwagon. It takes a concerted effort and constant monitoring, so solid IT and DevOps processes need to be in place.

Applications designed to be scaled up and down dynamically improve the overall situation, and monitoring applications for resource provisioning optimizes costs for given service level agreements (SLAs). Seasonal businesses with wildly fluctuating business cycles, along with any organization looking for cost-effective ways to scale, will find a lot of leverage in the cloud. Ensuring each level of the business understands how to transition to cloud-based applications and storage makes the process seamless and repeatable.

The Bottom Line

Cloud computing provides some great benefits, including short-term scalability at a relatively low cost. It allows large enterprises to remain as nimble and quick as smaller competitors.

It’s important to remember that not all sensitive data can go to the cloud, and this should be considered in your audit process. Cloud computing can also be expensive if you go in blindly, so you will need to research vendors. Make sure to understand if the provider can meet your compliance, access and security requirements, and if you can seamlessly migrate to the cloud and to different on-site and other data-storage tiers.

In the event of any risk scenario, a hybrid solution utilizing both cloud and on-site storage deployments is the most optimal configuration. By properly balancing loads and training your staff, your company will be prepared to face the leaner, more aggressive competition of the future.

By Vineet Jain

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