Re-Evaluating the Cloud

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Re-Evaluating the Cloud

  • In my experience people solve the wrong problem or follow a path that would mirrors the line "Something must be done!  This is something, therefore it must be done"!

    The cloud was seen as a quick and easy solution to a number of ills.  Running out of space in your data centre?  The cloud removes that limitation.  The question that wasn't asked was "What is taking up all the space in the data centre"?  A friend showed me the oldest server in the data centre (an ancient DB server) and told me that he'd been pushing to replace it.  The new replacement would allow 128 virtual servers, each more powerful than the old DB server and in a fraction of the space.  In all the years that I was with the company that DB server was "about to be replaced" so no-one wanted to spend time and money on it, effectively condemning it to being stuck in limbo for eternity.

    In your own data centre it costs what it costs. Attempts to attribute costs are seen as wooden dollars.  The side effect is that cost monitoring, responsibility and accountability disciplines aren't skills that many people have developed.  Let those people loose in the cloud without those disciplines and big bills will result.

    The cloud is great for experimentation.  You can experiment with a technology at low risk then shut it down in less time than it would take to wake up the bureaucracy in the on premises world.  I have to ask the question, what experiments are people running?  An awful lot of what I have seen is more of the same on similar services to what they previously had.

    I've also seen a lot of solutions that are built for hypothetical situations and wrestle with the limitations posed by having to cope with those hypotheticals.  Architecture that is fine on a Powerpoint slide that is dutifully reproduced in the cloud but would have been thrown out in the on premises world.

    For the right use case and implemented the right way the cloud can deliver major benefits.  I question what percentage of cloud based solutions are the right use case and implemented the right way?

  • I read both posts from 37 signals with great interest.  I think of myself as "leans on-prem"; unless there is a specific problem that cloud solves, like crazy seasonality in your business, I believe on-prem (including renting space at a datacenter) is the way to go.  I suspect many medium sized business CTOs have been somewhere that realized savings by moving to the cloud, and end up thinking it's a blanket fix for all challenges in budgets and staffing.  My current employer is being mandated to move to the cloud by our global parent, and I see no advantage whatsoever (other than maybe the CapEx/OpEx, which isn't in my purview).  For a rank-and-file employee like me, pushing a move to the cloud can definitely cause a loss of confidence in the IT leadership team.

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  • If you have an existing on-prem server and infrastructure, staff with development and system admin skills, and you don't have a need to easily scale up / down your CPU and storage, then staying on-prem may make sense.

    First, are you taking advantage of volume pricing? Also, before making a decision to fall back from the cloud to on-prem, you'll want to examine on a granular level where exactly your cloud hosting costs are allocated. If it's hourly compute for a mess of Dev and QA VMs, then consider spinning the VMs down when not in use or use the Spot VM pricing model where it runs on unused CPU resources for a fraction of the hourly cost (if you can tolerate having it occasionally be evicted for brief periods of time). If you a significant percent of your costs are related to data ingress and egress, then examine what applications are involved and re-factor usage patterns.

    But this is a big "it depends" topic. There are consultants who specialize in analyzing how you're using cloud services and potential cost savings.


    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

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