Traditional Applications Run Better in Public Cloud

Public cloud works. Not just for SaaS, cloud native applications, or test and development. Not just for startups or executives bragging to each other on the golf course. Public cloud works for traditional, stable applications. It can deliver better service levels and reduce costs … even compared to a well-run on-premises environment.

To date, market analysts have focused on cloud disrupting who buys IT infrastructure. Frustrated lines of business pounced on the chance to bypass IT. Cloud let them “Fail Fast or Scale Fast”. They didn’t have to wait for IT approval, change control, hardware acquisition, or governance. Lines of business continue to embrace cloud’s self-service provisioning at a low monthly cost.

 

Do you need a custom-built environment for all your applications?

Can Public Cloud Cost Less than a Well-Run Private Cloud? Yes.

Conventional wisdom says public cloud can’t compete with a well-run on-premises environment. IT architects argue that public cloud can’t match the performance and functionality of legacy environments. IT Administrators can’t tweak low level knobs. IT Directors can’t demand custom releases. How can vanilla cloud handle the complex requirements of legacy applications? Financial analysts note that public cloud charges a premium for its flexible consumption. Stable workloads don’t need that flexibility, so why pay the premium?

Conventional wisdom is wrong. Most traditional workloads don’t need custom-built environments. You don’t need a Formula-1 race car to pick up groceries, and you don’t need specially-made infrastructure to run most applications. Moreover, public cloud’s architectural advantages can reduce IT costs, even with the pricing premium.

Public cloud has two architectural advantages for traditional applications:

  1. More price/performance options
  2. On-demand provisioning for data protection.
One size does not fit all for application infrastructure

Public Cloud = Choice

Public cloud offers more price/performance choices than on-premises infrastructure. Outside of the Fortune 50, most companies don’t get to buy “one of everything” for their infrastructure. Instead, they buy a one-size-fits-all workhorse system to support all the workloads. The public cloud offers more technology choices than even the largest IT shop. It is the biggest marketplace (pun intended) for different technology configurations. Cloud levels the playing field between smaller and bigger companies.*

* NOTE: For this to happen, we need to solve the operational challenges of running different cloud configurations.

Cloud will change how you think about data protection

Public Cloud = Better Data Protection

Public cloud can improve data protection. For years, IT has struggled to deliver high-performance disaster recovery, backup, and archive. Companies can’t afford to run DR and archive environments for all their applications; maintaining two near-identical sites costs too much. That’s why they pretend that their backups can be DR and archive copies. Unfortunately, when disasters or (even worse) legal issues strike, recovery cannot begin until IT provisions a new environment. Companies collapse before recoveries can complete.

Public cloud’s on-demand provisioning enables cost-effective first-class DR, archive, and backup. Customers don’t waste money on idle standby environments. Nor do they treat “hope that nothing goes wrong” as a strategy. Instead, when necessary, they near-instantly spin up compute and storage in a new location. Then, they near-instantly restore the data and start running.* With public cloud, IT can unify enterprise-class DR, backup, and archive. Organizations are already moving backup copies to cloud object storage. The next step will be to use those copies for unified data protection.

*NOTE: For this to happen, we must create cost-effective cloud protection storage and build near-instant data recovery mechanisms.

Conclusion

Public cloud works for traditional applications. You can run applications on the best configuration, rather than what is available. You can have first-class DR and archive, rather than “best effort” with backup copies. You can replace your hand-crafted environments with something less expensive and more functional. Public cloud should not threaten IT; instead its architecture should help IT to deliver better services. It’s time to stop resisting and start building.

How I Found My Path to the Cloud

“Dell EMC’s Data Protection Division won’t need a CTO in the future.”

I started 2017 as an SVP and CTO at the world’s largest on-premises infrastructure provider. I ended the year at a 10-person startup building data management for the public cloud. Like many, my journey to the cloud began with a kick in the gut. Like most, I have no idea how it will end.

The Dell layoff didn’t depress me. I’d seen the budget cut targets, so I kånew I wasn’t alone. The layoff felt personal rather than professional, so my ego wasn’t bruised. Since cloud is eating the on-premises infrastructure market, I’d wanted to move. Since I’d always had my choice of jobs, I looked forward to new opportunities.

Searching for a Job, Finding Despair

The job hunt, however, plunged me into the chasm of despair. I wanted to be cutting edge, so I applied to cloud providers and SaaS vendors. What’s worse than companies rejecting you? Companies never responding. Even with glowing internal introductions from former colleagues, I heard nothing. No interview. No acknowledgement. Not even rejection. My on-premises background made me invisible. Then, I applied to software companies moving to the cloud. They interviewed me. They rejected me for candidates with “cloud” expertise. My on-premises background made me undesirable. Legacy infrastructure companies called, but I needed to build a career for the next 20 years, not to cling to a job for 5 more years. For the first time in my working life, I worried about becoming obsolete.

Finding Hope in Cloud

Then I found hope. I met a recently “promoted” Cloud Architect whose boss wanted him to “move IT to cloud”. His angst-ridden story sounded familiar: change-resistant organization, insufficient investment, and unsatisfactory tools. He couldn’t deliver data protection, data compliance and security, data availability, or performance. He couldn’t afford to build custom data management solutions. The business didn’t even want to think about it. They did, however, expect an answer.

I realized data management was my ticket into the cloud. Even in cloud, data management problems don’t go away. The problems I know how to solve still matter. In fact, expanding digitization and new regulations (e.g. GDPR, ePrivacy Directive) make solving those problems more important. Even better, the public cloud’s architecture opens better ways to build data management. Electricity surged through me. Cloud gave me the opportunity to build the data management solution I’d spent my career trying to create. Now, I needed to find a place to build it.

The Future is Nuvoloso

Nuvoloso, our startup, wants to help people like me get to the cloud. Individually, each member of the team has built data management for client-server, appliances, and virtualization. Now, together, we’re building data management for cloud. The requirements don’t change, but the solutions must. Each of us adds value with our existing skills, while learning about the public cloud. Our product will enable infrastructure IT professionals to follow our path. We will help them use their experience to add value and get a foothold in the cloud.

The journey to the cloud still ties my stomach in knots. When I started at Nuvoloso, I felt helpless and terrified. Cloud took everything I knew, and changed it just enough to confuse me. As I’ve adjusted, I feel helpful, excited and (still) terrified. Public cloud is real. Public cloud changes how businesses buy and use technology. Public cloud does not, however, eliminate the requirements for data management; it amplifies it. Public cloud will not replace us. Public cloud needs our skills and experience. No matter where the applications run, somebody needs to manage the data infrastructure.

Your journey to the cloud may begin with a project, a promotion, or (like me) a layoff. Regardless of how you start, remember: There’s a future for people like us.