Does Moving to the Public Cloud Really Reduce Costs?


Does Moving to the Public Cloud Really Reduce Costs?

One of the most common misconceptions about moving to public cloud is that it offers a much cheaper proposition to host workloads. There are multiple levels to this statement that need to be unpicked, through experience the answer is sometimes yes, but there are caveats.

Most customer discussions about running workloads either on-premise or on private cloud revolve around identifying the benefits of moving to public cloud and ensuring that everything is aligned with the companies aims and objectives.

Moving to public cloud goes further than just cost, the impacts on business are varied. Cost reductions are generally a high priority on the list of a company’s aims & objectives. In this instance, aims are long-term aspirations while objectives are short term. What sort of questions need to be asked to identify if, when or how cost benefits can be realised?

Are your workloads cloud ready?

The first priority is to conduct an initial assessment of environments and workloads that could be migrated to public cloud, this is important to gather the data needed to map out a strategy. Understanding the functional and non-functional requirements of each workload will build a picture of how they will perform in a public cloud environment.

There is a delta between how workloads would run currently on public cloud IaaS/PaaS if a lift and shift migration approach was employed. Versus, how they should function to make the best use of public cloud technology should provide a gap analysis on the time, effort and financial resources needed for development before migration activities commence.

How are you getting to the cloud?

Understanding and planning your journey to public cloud is an important step which should involve the following for planning and designing: target architectures, development work, migration activities, all of these are essential core components to the success of the platform shift. It is a complex time that needs to be carefully considered.

The below graph indicates infrastructure costs over time. It shows the transition needed to migrate from a current platform to a target platform. The line graph indicates how the TCO (total cost of ownership) spikes during a migration period, this will be down to people, tooling & services needed to get to the target platform. The hope is that when the cost of people, tooling & services has been spent, the running costs of the target platform are significantly less. There will then be a point-in-time where the operational costs of the platform deliver ongoing cost savings.

What do your ongoing support structures look like for your workloads?

The public cloud generally is more flexible and offers far more services than traditional private cloud environments. With this, you can be more granular with costs and the control of resources is more complex. Within the public cloud costs can spiral if measures are not incorporated during the build or during live operation, for example, using resources (people or tools) to identify or flag changes in the platform or service to prevent unforeseen costs occuring.

For instance, in September 2019 Google changed the structure of its billing for regional backups. This was communicated to all platform customers. If this high profile update from Google was missed/not flagged and addressed, platform users could have incurred significant bandwidth charges on the platform that would not have usually been there.

What is your businesses technology strategy over the next 5 to 7 years?

If your shorter-term objectives are to reduce costs, the likely longer-term aim is to be as streamlined as possible. Streamlining costs in the cloud is can come from taking effective advantage of PaaS, however there are possible drawbacks in the future that could have a significant impact.

When committing to PaaS there is a certain element of vendor lock-in, so if a company might want to move away from PaaS, they could be left with a scenario detailed in the above graph. Some companies are happy with this lock-in and some look to move to open source technologies such as Kubernetes that can be easily migrated between platforms with minimal redevelopment and cost. This is an example of how taking a longer-term view of the company’s strategy may dictate technology choices.

Migrations to public cloud require investment, often upfront. Companies these days are at varying levels/stages of investment for going live on a cloud platform. Some companies may be best suited to remain on their current platforms and others may be more suited to looking into a slightly different way of consuming IT to gain the best benefits which is fine. We help companies at all stages of their cloud journey.

It’s important for customers to conduct regular assessments. These assessments should not just be technology focused but they should also consider the vision of the business, the C-suite and key stakeholders. This strategy can be translated into a technology plan that underpins and complements the visions.

Clear support structures are important, whether using a fully outsourced or in-house model. Retaining control on your cloud resources will control expenditure and reduce risk when it comes to cost.

IT affects all areas of the business but technology choices are not always made with the business focus in mind. Detailed considerations for technology choices will be more clear and obvious when a clear vision is in place. With more services, platform flexibility, utility costings the public cloud world is more complex. Now more than ever it is important to be planning for what your business is looking to achieve to ensure that you fully realise the benefits of public cloud

Strategic planning is a very wide and broad subject, maybe too large to detail here. However, understanding long-term aims and associated principles is important to a successful IT roadmap with as small bumps along the way as possible.