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09 July 2020 | Stanisław Suchodolski

Public Cloud — the new game changer

Cloud Computing, Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud. We are hearing about each of them a lot these days. This market changing technology started seeking attention not only in IT departments but also among people who are in charge of business. And this is not surprising — cloud computing is a real game changer, a technology that helps startups, middle sized companies, as well as huge Enterprise like organizations to innovate their market.

Although this is still a discussion about certain technology, nobody comes to a business meeting saying: Hey, we’ve got a super powerful server, please buy one. Public Cloud providers would rather say: We know how hard and expensive it is to maintain a big Data Center and keep up with the business requirements. That’s why we offer to take responsibility of building and maintaining the IT infrastructure, and let you stay focused on your business.

Fortune 500 firms in 1955 vs. 2014; 88% are gone, and we’re all better off because of that dynamic “creative destruction”.

And this is exactly what every company wants to hear because today’s business is in constant change. Full of new ideas and innovations. Competition is bigger than ever before. Enterprise companies seemingly lead stable life as each day they need to fight for their position on the market. Why? Because smaller companies and startups are ready to compete. And they are more agile and capable of releasing their products very, very fast.

But there is something both big companies and startups have in common — they need good solutions that will allow them to easily turn any new idea into a specific product. And of course in case of unexpected failure they want to quickly close the project without big expenses and simply start with a new one.

And here comes the Cloud

Cloud is rapidly gaining in popularity, because it helps companies stay focused on the most important things, their businesses. Just look at the figures — each year leading Cloud vendors as Amazon, Microsoft or Google invest enormous amounts of money to improve their infrastructures and services. Only last year Amazon spent more than 12 billion dollars on developing their new technology, mostly on Amazon Web Services infrastructure. No wonder they offer the most demanded solutions from Virtual Servers, Data Bases, Storage, IoT&Mobile to Machine Learning, AI and Big Data. And everything in a simple pay-as-you-go pricing model.

But what does it mean to my company?

If you just started your own business but you don’t have a “big pocket”, then Public Cloud is the perfect solution for you. Why? It’s simple — you need some basic tools for your daily work. And thanks to the Cloud solutions you can buy subscriptions for MS Office365, Amazon WorkMail or Google G Suite. Start small and grow as you need, right?

Or let’s imagine that you’ve got an idea for a new application. Guess what? You don’t need to buy expensive hardware that requires complicated configuration and maintenance. In the Cloud you can power up virtual servers, data bases and other services such as storage or DNS.

Now let’s say that your business is a bit more mature and your company is growing. At this point you probably need more resources, i.e. compute power, storage space etc. But at the same time you don’t want to spend extra money on new hardware or licenses. In that case the Public Cloud can also help you.

Another example — if your business is growing fast and you’re getting new customers, then your application needs capacity to handle them. By moving your application to the Cloud you can easily spin up new servers or add more storage. By using Auto Scaling mechanism you will provide adequate compute power on time. BTW, when you get more and more customers, your reputation is also growing. Applications availability is becoming very important. The Cloud provides a lot of options to achieve better scalability and availability allowing you to become a trusted business partner.

Evernote employees had to spend time maintaining the company’s Data Center… They weren’t providing additional value to customers.

Public Cloud is also a very promising technology for Enterprises as it can solve many business needs they’re facing every day. For example huge Data Centers need a lot of time for configuration and maintenance. By running application in the Cloud, big part of this effort is on to the Cloud provider. Less time on IT operations means more time for business. In addition, with traditional IT approach it’s usually very hard for IT department to keep pace with the dynamic that the business expects. For example — when companies are expanding their business for into new regions, they usually built or rent place for their new Data Centers. And this takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Meanwhile leading Cloud providers offer their products and services all over the world. Did you know that Amazon provides Cloud Computing services in 16 location (called Regions), and another 5 are coming soon. This allows companies to expand their businesses to new regions all around the globe without any major investments.

So how to begin?

If you’ve got a new business idea for “the best application in the world” the Public Cloud is perfect for you. But in order to use Public Cloud efficiently you need to have specific knowledge about how this solution works. You should be able to answer some important questions, i.e.:

  • What kind of services are provided by the Cloud vendors?
  • Which of them suits me in the best way?
  • How to build a secured system?
  • And what about data privacy, application reliability and scalability

In other words, take a business need, learn and understand the business logic that need to be accomplished. Then design the best architecture using services provided by the Cloud vendor.

Take an innovative approach and look at the Cloud not just an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). Leading Cloud providers offer a wide range of PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and other “as a Service” solutions. For example by using a Data Base as a service you can easily reduce time to market of your product, cut operation and maintenance costs.

Small and middle size companies usually keep their infrastructures locally. This implementations are not sophisticated, provide limited capacity and poor reliability. They also need help in configuration and maintenance. VPS (Virtual Private Server) can be one of the solutions for this problems. There are many VPS providers (wrongly called Cloud providers).But this services still have limited scalability, reliability and their require strong expertise in configuration. That’s why companies should look what leading Cloud providers offer. Think about Amazon LightSail or Azure Web App. This services let you power up applications or web services in few clicks. Fast, easy and scalable without big expenses at the beginning.

What about Enterprise-like companies?

Everything looks different when an Enterprise is going to the Public Cloud. There are different business units, different expectations and many different applications they use. Tons of procedures, regulations and compliance requirements. This big change affects almost every part of a company. This is why a well-prepared Cloud Strategy is the key for success. The strategy needs to include many aspects, i.e.:

  • Setting up the IT Department for a new technology
  • Economic and financing in pay-as-you-go model
  • New procedures for IT operation
  • Who should join the Cloud Business Office (CBO)

At the beginning CBO is responsible for choosing the first application in the migration process. It’s mostly recommended to start with the easiest ones as they are usually less important from the business perspective. First migration is very important because it provides a valuable knowledge and experience. This knowledge will help to prepare specific procedures for the next migrations. These procedures should also include automation for repeatable tasks. This will speed up the whole process and reduce costs and efforts.

After first successful migration, CBO prepares a long-term plan for the rest. They analyze all current systems and splits them into categories. First group is easy to move (Rehost). Second includes applications that need small architecture modifications (Replatform) or changes in the code (Re-factoring). Next one contains applications that will be replaced by SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions (Re-purchasing). Last group are applications that cannot be moved to the Cloud. In this situation CBO decides which of them will be removed now or in the near future (Retire). For these that need to stay longer, assume future reviews (Retain/Revisit).Keep in mind, that CBO is not just a temporary position in the migration project. His role is to product and project management of new applications build in the Cloud. This role also include financial management, billing and managing the TCO. It’s also risk and regulatory management.

Łukasz Dorosz