"Will migrating to the cloud save me money?" This is a question that comes up fairly often in my discussions with customers. The reality is that there is no clear yes-or-no answer. It depends on a number of factors.
If you're currently looking at cloud adoption for your enterprise and are approaching it with the viewpoint of looking to save money, that is a valid business driver. That being said, a complete replication of your existing data center in a public or private service provider cloud is not guaranteed to save money and from Savvis' perspective isn't the right approach. In a future post I'll talk to some of the common business drivers for cloud adoption that we are seeing.
It's understandable that IT executives are looking at cloud in this way. After all, in the traditional model of IT, as outlined in Figure 1, the business need drives the application and the application drives the infrastructure. So the thought is, regardless of what the infrastructure looks like, as long as it meets the needs of the application, then it should be OK. This together with the idea that public cloud is a multi-tenant environment and so costs are shared across multiple customers leads to the perception that public cloud is cheaper. This isn't always the case.
In an IaaS cloud that paradigm is changed around, as depicted in Figure 2. The business need still drives the application, which still drives the infrastructure, but now the infrastructure has the capability and expectation to meet the business need as well. But it doesn't only have to meet the business need today, it has to meet that need at every point in the future. As we all know, the only thing that is clear about the future, is that it's unclear ... cloudy, perhaps.
A better way to approach the adoption of cloud is to first understand the different types of clouds that are available and what type of workloads would be suitable for each. I plan to write more about this in a future post but to be more specific, the types of questions to consider are:
- Where should you use a private cloud?
- Where should you use a public cloud?
- Where shouldn't you use cloud at all?
- And most importantly, how do you tie all of these different pieces together to form a cohesive solution?
By effectively answering the above questions you will be able to optimize your infrastructure to meet the needs of the application and business. Instead of saving money you will enable your company to be more financially efficient. If correctly planned and implemented a byproduct of this will be lower costs.
Cloud isn't a one size fits all proposition. Your cloud provider should know this.
Jeff Katzen is senior manager, cloud business solutions, at Savvis, a CenturyLink company.