Digitalisation and digital transformation are at the top of the agenda in most companies. And when thinking of the Cloud, eventually the following two questions will come to mind: Cloud or not? And how much will it cost?
Answering the latter first: The lower limit will typically be similar to the wages of a fulltime employee for 2-4 weeks together with current expenses for the operations. These expenses depend on how much space and server power you use in the Cloud as well as which of the services at the specific cloud provider you choose to use.
If we are to provide an answer to the first question that makes sense, it cannot stand alone. As a minimum, you would have to ask yourself: “to what extend should our IT environment be agile, and how much are we willing to pay?”
On the lookout for gains
Let’s take a step back and take a look at where this discussion typically begins. Usually the management becomes interested in digitalisation - broadly speaking - for one reason or the other.
“There must be some gains for us,” the mantra seems to be – and there are in fact gains for most people.
However, both the end and the means seem to be unclear, and for this reason the task typically winds up at the IT department which is then responsible for looking into the options.
In most cases the cloud discussion quickly enters the picture, as moving your applications to the Cloud might seem as the obvious way of reaching the level of digitalisation that not only strengthens the business processes and the power to execute, but also minimises several of the operations and maintenance tasks the IT department spends plenty of resources on.
Cloud or on-premise?
Besides the desire to increase the muscle mass of the business, it is most often expected that moving the company's applications to the Cloud involves savings. However, that’s not necessarily how it works. In fact, in some cases you may save money by pulling your IT applications back from the Cloud. It is no law of nature that the Cloud is a good idea, yet many companies will benefit from it.
One of the most weighty arguments concerns security and stability. If your applications are placed locally, a breakdown will paralyse your business. This happened for the fashion company Trendhim on Black Friday and resulted in a 100,000 DKK loss of turnover. By moving your applications to the Cloud, you ensure that the data is placed in multiple datacentres across the world, meaning that a new server will take over in case of a breakdown.
There are different cloud models to choose from – among others private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud – and adding to the complexity there are different ways of conducting the transition process.
Three ways of entering the Cloud
Lift & Shift
Ironically, the Lift & Shift model is both the most simple and potentially the most expensive way of placing your applications in the Cloud. Strictly speaking, the applications are simply placed in the Cloud as they are. This means that there are no adjustments or adaptations, something that both entails a great advantage and a great risk. If you are lucky, things will work out just fine. However, the likelihood indicates that you will need to use a great del of resources on tweaking the applications, so that they will function as intended in the new environment.
In opposition to the Lift & Shift approach, cloud enablement takes care of the adjustments of your applications prior to the transition. Depending on the number, age and complexity of your applications, the enablement process may be shorter or longer. However, your software will have better conditions for functioning properly in the Cloud, if it has been cloud enabled prior to the transition process.
If your cloud enablement is well-planned and includes code refactoring of parts of the application, it will free your developers from the infrastructure so that they can focus on the application itself.
Typically, cloud enablement of an application includes elements such as containerization of parts of the application as well as management of these using Kubernetes. Security, logging and monitoring are most often also included in the process. If you want to go the extra mile, you should set up an automated CI/CD pipeline - your developers will love you for that!
If your applications are cloud native, meaning they were adapted to the Cloud already at the design phase, they naturally have the best possible foundation for the cloud journey. Cloud Native is a broad concept, so let us just briefly discuss it. If you ask the Internet, Cloud Native is:
Cloud Native Computing is an approach in software development that uses cloud computing to "build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private and hybrid clouds."
And that is indeed a good definition. However, it does not specify how to work with a cloud native mindset. At Netic we recommend that you establish a number of principles within governance, controlling, tooling and security, which will allow you to work consistently with your cloud applications across both public, private and hybrid cloud. In this way you are able to reap the benefits of your cloud transformation and simultaneously make sure that you do not have to reinvent the wheel with every application.
The price of moving to the Cloud
Now you know that there are a number of elements you need to consider, if you are thinking about moving your applications to the Cloud. This includes an analysis and consulting phase as well as the following process with the actual moving of the applications to the new environment. In addition, there will be expenses for cloud consumption, and the price of this depends on your usage of cloud resources.
If your cloud environment is very large, and you are nervous that you are paying for usage of cloud resources that you are actually not using, Netic recommends CloudHealth from VMware. CloudHealth is capable of analysing your entire cloud enviroment, across the three largest cloud providers and then offer suggestions for optimization and savings.
Please reach out to us, if you wish to discuss this. We are partners with VMware and with our experience with several of the largest cloud installations in Denmark, we are able to help you move forward.