It was full of potential for organisations that face seasonal trading peaks, but has cloud lived up to expectations? After the seismic shift caused by cloud, the dust is settling, and most businesses are taking stock. Initial excitement over seemingly endless possibilities has been tempered by cost, visibility and security considerations, but cloud still offers incredible bursting capability that is hard to match. So how can you harness all that potential without getting caught by the pitfalls?
Some things work especially well on cloud. Essential workplace tools like the Microsoft Office suite are packed with features for mobile workforces, enabling new, more efficient ways of working. For small businesses, applications giving the ability to quote and invoice on-the-go reduce time spent on administration and end the monthly rummage through a shoebox full of receipts.
Then there are the off-site disaster recovery (DR) possibilities that make sense in some situations, and the incredible number of industry-specific niche services. But for retailers, logistics companies, and any organisation that must get the most from massively increased peak trading seasons, the big attraction is the bursting capability when demand for computing capacity spikes. Being able to create an entire IT world just when needed is where cloud comes into its own.
Cloud and the Visibility Trap
The sales pitch for cloud promised a kind of technology utopia: unlimited everything, with low costs and absolute convenience. The scalability is true, but a lot of organisations have learned the hard way that it is not a perfect world. Visibility is the victim of this unlimited world where anyone can grab more capacity or new applications. Shadow IT abounds, with an increasingly tech-savvy workforce confident enough in their ability to create their own work environments.
Lack of visibility makes the IT team uncomfortable for a very good reason. Many businesses we talk to ask the same question: if we can’t see it, how do we secure it? That isn’t to say cloud is inherently insecure; the better providers invest heavily in security, but they are also a very attractive target. On-premise, though, gives far greater control of where data resides, and who can access what.
New Hybrid: Shifting the Time Equation
One of the arguments against on-premise infrastructure was undoubtedly the time and focus involved. In an era where those scarce IT resources are desperately needed to focus on growth, efficiency and other digital transformation activities, there is little time for managing infrastructure. The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) is a real game-changer.
The popular image of AI is in areas like robotics, and there are certainly some amazing things happening in that sector, but AI has some very practical uses that have a place in regular businesses. Nimble, an HPE company, integrated AI capability in its storage devices, and the difference is extraordinary. Every bit of data from the entire environment is constantly analysed, so the storage devices can recognise patterns of behaviour throughout the data centre. The more data the device handles, the greater its intelligence. It uses this intelligence to predict problems and to address them, creating self-healing infrastructure that largely runs itself. IT gets the advantages of on-premise, without the time drain… and of course, cloud is still there for those busy periods. The development of AI in the data centre allows IT to get the best of both worlds – a hybrid scenario that requires minimal intervention, and runs applications very efficiently in a cloud-like environment.
Cloud Bill Shock
Cloud may give seemingly unlimited bursting capability, but poor visibility may lead to sky-high bills to match. We’ve seen a few horror stories. One organisation I encountered had teams doing as they pleased, using a lot of cloud for development, but when staff moved to other projects, or left the organisation, that cloud was left running up a monthly bill without being used. It mushroomed until someone received a bill double the expected $40k, and then the hunt was on to unravel the situation without much visibility of the task. From small businesses to the very biggest, cloud bill shock has prompted many moves back on-premise.
Cloud is seen as a quick and easy answer that ends up being far from simple. Hybrid IT offers balance if it is done right, with on-premise predictability and security, and a better view of the entire IT eco-system. With vendors offering a range of definitions, there is confusion over what hybrid means and how it will look for each business, so it is important to grill your IT partner on exactly how it will work and what visibility is possible. As a cornerstone of the modern hybrid environment, Nimble creates a self-managed environment and in a world of vague promises, it gets the jobs done just like it says on the box, with no nonsense, and no bill shock. If only every IT solution were so simple.
Time to find the right balance between on-premise manageability and the bursting capacity of cloud? Solista are always happy to have straightforward, candid discussions on what will help you reach the business outcomes you are looking to achieve.
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