5 Things to know before moving to the public cloud

5 Things to know before moving to the public cloud

February 01

It’s easy to say, “we’re going to move our infrastructure to the public cloud.”  What’s not to like?   You’ve seen the marketing that talks about the advantages, like flexibility, lower cost and the like.  All of this, you may think, makes a public cloud migration as close to a no-brainer as anything you’ll see in technology circles.

Writing in Datacenter Dynamics, Uptime Institute’s Andy Lawrence says, “The case for an accelerated move to the public cloud may be summed up in one sentiment: Data centers were difficult enough to run even before the pandemic, and the costs, risks and complexity have all now increased. With the threat of new pandemics in future, it will be easier, even if it isn’t cheaper, to move to the cloud.”  If you stop with that quote, you may decide to go all in.

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But there are some other issues you’ll want to consider…which may make you reconsider, according to Tom Bendien, CTO at GT Edge Solutions (an Evoque partner) in northern Virginia.

First off, Bendien talks about the “cloud learning curve:” There’s what he calls a “whole new world” to get into when you go to public cloud.  “Yes, people can take online classes,” Bendien says.  “They can start learning about cloud. They can start trying things out. But what can start happening is that if you have those skill gaps, you can end up really spending a lot more time that starts to take you away from the value and the speed of cloud.”

Secondly, he asks that you take a hard look at the true cost.  Bendien says it’s almost impossible to predict exactly what a cloud migration is actually going to cost. The best way to figure this out, he says, “is to start using public cloud, start running some apps, and then start looking closely at the bill, start getting some tools that will help you manage, manage and monitor what’s going on.”  And be prepared for surprises:  Bendien cites the story of a company that installed several instances and left them running over the weekend only to find they’d incurred a $2,000 charge.  “Understand that those risks are out there. And that has to be part of your strategy to figure that out,” he says.

Next, consider the unique aspects of working in cloud, which can be fraught with unexpected surprises. “Just be aware that when you first start using public cloud and even as you start getting further down the road, you may end up with a showstopper moment, where things just will not work the way you want,” Bendien states.   He says your cloud developers are continuously learning as “the cloud environments change from day to day, week to week, month to month. They’re kind of fighting a continuous battle to keep everything running and trying new things.”  Bendien recommends patience, as well as the willingness to make hard decisions on when to persevere and when to pivot and try another approach.

Taking the time to really understand networking is the fourth issue Bendien says you need to consider when considering the move to the public cloud.  “In terms of networking, we’re talking about Layer 2 and 3 protocols, and managing your IP space. It’s figuring out if you’re doing LAN and WAN connections, or how do I either connect a cloud environment to VPC and Direct Connect gateways or Express Route?  What do I do when my applications break when I take them into a public cloud?  How do I act in a hybrid solution?”  

Bendien notes that while public cloud implementations enable quick provisioning, “You may come up against a scenario where you just suddenly find that your elastic IP is blacklisted and you can’t send emails from a server that you set up. You may find that certain networking protocols or multicast or something else isn’t working.”  Again, he recommends perseverance, and the willingness to move away from an approach if it doesn’t work.

Finally, information security.   He says many questions must be considered:  “How are you going to do your role-based access?  How are you going to set up your user accounts? How are you going to define your company’s security policies?  How are you going to make sure that you have tools in place to manage it, and to monitor what’s going on?”

There are additional concerns that may keep you awake at night, Bendien says, such as securing where your apps are running in the cloud, or “Is there a bad apple in the mix somewhere that there maybe is going to leave a little backdoor open?  Do I know who these people are that are accessing my environment? Do I have controls in place to make sure that I don’t suddenly have a data loss event or a breach, and how am I going to mitigate it once a breach occurs? Because it probably will occur.”

We’ve thought through these issues and many more.  We understand that while public clouds have a significant advantage, there’s likely a lot of your data that you want to know where it resides at any given moment, so that you can keep it under more immediate control.  And in many cases, the cost of a hybrid approach may ultimately be more economical.

It’s why we’ve implemented the Evoque Connectivity Suite, which gives you on-ramp access to today’s top cloud providers like AWS, Azure and GCP, even as it enables you to control the location of your corporate-critical information.  We firmly believe that the hybrid cloud answers many of your immediate needs and can be easily provisioned to help you as you grow.  More importantly, we have a lot of folks who’ve been with us for years who can help you solve the issues Bendien lists above. At Uptime Institute, Andy Lawrence acknowledges that the public cloud isn’t the be-all solution.  He writes, “Migration can be a difficult process, involving re-platforming or rewriting applications, changing security and compliance processes, and foregoing corporate control for limited transparency. Uptime Institute’s research shows the balance of workloads shifting gradually, over time, in a cautious fashion.”   We’re ready to work with you, today. 

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