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The key question is cloud service is the right fit for your specific jobs, whether today or in a few years, and what you should do to prepare.
In the 10+ years that RampRate has advised buyers of IT infrastructure services, few technology options have been as polarizing as “the cloud.” In some organizations, a public cloud deployment is viewed as an immature technology if not a passing fad, with any cloud outage eliciting a chorus of “I told you so.” In others, it is a panacea that appears at the end of every strategic roadmap for every application.
The true position is at neither extreme. Public cloud computing is a tool for a job, which fits some buyers and projects today, and will fit more of them as both cloud technologies and application development practices continue to mature. It is the heir to many technologies that were initially viewed with an equal measure of skepticism and enthusiasm in the past – from co-location to content delivery networks to virtualization technologies rebranded by some vendors as “private clouds”.
The key question is not whether it is a great technology or a flawed one – it’s both, particularly flawed when misapplied – but what cloud service is the right fit for your specific jobs, whether today or in a few years, and what you should do to prepare.
Public cloud infrastructure is a trendy label that has been applied (and misapplied) to many services along the spectrum of managed hosting. For the purposes of this article, the cloud services we are addressing are:
Figure 1 Hosting Spectrum for Cloud and Non-Cloud Deployments. Source: RampRate
At a minimum, the Public Cloud solution must exhibit the following features:
As part of getting buyers towards an optimal decision, we use a scorecard mechanism to weight priorities vs. solution strengths. Historically, public cloud buyers — whether starting new projects or attempting to migrate legacy applications — have shown the following attributes compared to their colleagues that opt for other forms of managed hosting:
Figure 2 Priorities of cloud buyers
The profile of the cloud infrastructure buyer bears many similarities to early adopters of other infrastructure approaches as well. However, crucial differences remain, based largely on alternatives to each technology available at the time of its initial uptake:
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
For both co-location and CDN – now mainstream and mature services – the same growing pains of unexpected outages, indifferent customer service from market leaders, and the prospect of smaller providers winking out of existence kept the initial risk profile high. Yet, when the dust cleared, the key attributes of choosing each one — operational health for data centers and technology fit / performance for CDNs — remained as key guides to the core value.
Similarly, buyers who put scale and price first will eventually drift to the public cloud. Risk tolerance only determines where in the technology maturity cycle they will make the leap. If on-demand growth at a low cost is your primary goal, then the public cloud should be somewhere on your roadmap now. If your top of mind concern is ability to control and fine-tune the performance profile or retain backwards compatibility with retained legacy components, it may be best to proceed more cautiously, building private cloud competencies that can be extended to public cloud services in the future.