Virtual Kim

@Kim_Bottu … Virtually Gung Ho

Is cloud a solution or a trojan horse?

While some companies already have chosen a future path most of us are all standing at the same crossroad. Is cloud the right path to take our datacentre into the future or is it a treat for our jobs?

The quick answer: vCloud Air deserves a chance and with reason!

I have heard the last remark quite a few times over the last couple of months: No we don’t want cloud, cloud is a risk for our jobs.

Understanding this type of opinion is not hard at all because ‘cloud’ tends to be a lot cheaper than having a on-premise datacentre so why would you still run your own datacentre?
Infrastructural investment can be minimized because you can rely on the infrastructure provided by the cloud provider so you won’t have to invest in your own datacentre anymore. Say bye bye to expensive datacentre upgrades or hardware replacement projects.

But I am not just talking about the CAPEX here, I am also talking about the OPEX: OPEX can be reduced because the cloud provider’s support and network team will take care of the servers and network infrastructure in the cloud instead of your own IT team and of course you will only have to pay for the agreed upon level of support and the effective time spend on your support tickets. From the moment you have migrated your server infrastructure to a cloud provider’s infrastructure, infrastructure becomes something you can manage 100% by SLA’s. This should be an CFO’s IT infrastructural dream world. But is this really so?

To me, not just as a virtualization engineer who potentially can lose his job because of a migration to cloud, there is problem with the whole 100% cloud model and I am not talking about losing my job. As soon as you migrate your whole infrastructure on the hardware of a cloud provider (I am not talking about off premise infrastructure in collocation), as soon as you have decommissioned the physical hardware and you have reduced your own IT staff in favor of SLA’s and support tickets with the cloud provider, the whole business you represent becomes dependent on the cloud provider and the offered services. Effective from now your company and even the critical business components your business rely upon have become a number in a ticketing system.

As a CFO you might think that the savings in cost justify the risk of relying 100% on SLA’s but there are downsides to this and some of those downsides might not seem that obvious unless you talk moving to a 100% cloud model through with at least the IT manager. Bigger cloud providers such as Amazon and Azure are indeed very cheap, but at the same time they will force you to adopt their technology. If you are currently using VMware virtualization technology, you will have to adopt the virtualization technology offered by Azure or AWS. Should you ever want to move back to your own datacentre or or any other cloud provider pray that you won’t have to rebuild server by server. This will take ages, especially because you will have to hire IT staff to accomplish this for you, IT staff which will first have to take a couple of months getting themselves familiar with your network and server requirements. As for SLA’s, I am not a big fan of relying 100% on support tickets logged with external staff. You might be able to put the pressure on the support team, but in the end, there are tens or even hundreds of clients out there with the same level of support as you. So in the end, no matter the business impact, you will have to wait your turn.

There is a middle solution though, one that I really like. One that offers you the best of both worlds. It is called Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid cloud means nothing more than having your own infrastructure, be it on-premise or off-premise co-located combined with resources offered by a cloud provider:

  • cloud infrastructure for rapidly expanding services
  • the same virtualization layer as you are currently using (VMware)
  • additional resources at your fingertips
  • the ability to expand and crimp your cloud datacentre without having to buy or sell additional hardware (vCloud Air)
  • In case of NSX: the same virtual network as being use din your own datacentre
  • your own IT staff to take care of your virtual environment
  • your own IT staff which will take care off critical incidents immediately
  • your own IT staff which you can ask to bypass SLA’s when needed.

Just think about it: hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds. CAPEX can be decreased and services can be guaranteed. Should the day come that you want to move away from the chosen cloud provider, you will at least have the minimum building blocks ready: Infrastructure which you potentially will have to expand but most importantly an IT team which can take care of this for you as soon as the new hardware has arrived.

My advise for IT infrastructure teams: You probably already have noticed that some business units want more flexible solutions. They don’t want to wait for resources, or don’t want to decommission first before getting more resources. They look at what the cloud has to offer, see that cloud is cheaper and see that cloud can deliver resources faster than the infrastructure teams can offer. For all you know, they might have started their own investigation into cloud behind your backs. Consider moving to a hybrid cloud model so you have more flexibility in resources and play your trump card: You can beat any SLA any cloud provider can offer!

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This entry was posted on November 8, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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