There’s no debate that the cloud has become a must-have technology for the digital era. This year, according to Forrester, the world will cross the 50 percent adoption milestone, and “cloud applications, platforms, and services will continue to radically change the way enterprises compete for customers.”
But no single cloud model is right for every scenario, and most organizations are adopting a multi-cloud strategy that uses two or three cloud providers across a mix of public and private platforms, with the splits based on cost considerations, performance, security, compliance, and other factors. It’s far from a one-size-fits-all cloud world, as a recent SDxCentral report described.
Public clouds are so appealing because they reduce infrastructure costs for new projects, offer great economies of scale, and, because of their renting versus buying model, shift capital expenses to the operational side of the ledger. Companies can essentially break out their credit card, click a button, and off they go.
Over time, however, companies can be surprised to find those operational expenses rising as they consume more services than planned.
For this and other reasons, private clouds remain a popular and important option for most organizations.
“Private cloud is still demanded by the market, and is likely to be in demand for the foreseeable future,” says a report from 451 Research. “Enterprise buyers will utilize public cloud for some workloads, but will also want to know that other workloads are kept safe and secure, fully within the organization’s control.”
However, private clouds face cost challenges of their own. It takes a much more upfront investment to get started with a managed private cloud – you need to pay a third party to install the hardware, integrate systems, and run it all for you.
The good news is that most enterprises can achieve cost savings in the private cloud, but only if they find the “Goldilocks Zone.”
In astronomy, the Goldilocks Zone (taken from the children’s fairy tale) is the habitable range of orbits around a star in which a planet can support water.
For private clouds, this is a place where organizations have the right amount of resources for their needs and achieve a combination of high utilization, high labor efficiency, and cost efficiency to support “life” — for example, control, performance, security, compliance, and other business requirements all at manageable costs.
451 Research recommends “using tools, outsourced services, and partnerships to optimize private cloud as much as possible to save money, while still benefiting from the more value-adding benefits of private cloud.”
This is sage advice. The market is filled with vendors who will talk up their expertise in helping businesses with their OpenStack deployments, but those consulting services can rack up huge upfront costs and increase the time to market.
OpenStack deployments can be notoriously tricky to upgrade, for example. All too often, some OpenStack users choose to remain on old unsupported versions of OpenStack, losing out on new features and security updates rather than facing the disruption and stress of upgrading.
Some vendors use to this to their advantage, offering very expensive services engagements to do highly manual work, again adding overhead best avoided.
Instead, organizations should look for vendors who can offer a fixed-price, highly automated, but flexible, OpenStack deployment process that significantly reduces the number of people required for both deployment and ongoing operations.
As 451 Research said: “We are already seeing new tooling, remote management, and flexible contracts entering the market, with a view to helping enterprises get private cloud benefits at public cloud prices. Our advice is to work with a partner that understands your business, and that understands and supports the breadth of options available. Investigate the pros and cons of each, and don’t be afraid to ask for help in determining which one is best.”
By following this guidance, enterprises can reach the Goldilocks Zone and benefit from a cloud strategy that’s just right for their needs.