Your Quick & Comprehensive Guide to Implement a Successful Cloud Strategy
September 7, 2018 | Technology
Here is a passage from Eric Schmidt’s keynote at the annual Search Engine Strategies Conference, August 2006:
Small and medium sized businesses were quick to react to this call as the benefits were lucrative – lower infrastructure costs, faster software development, and increased operational flexibility. All in all, this keynote was what marked the mainstream adoption of cloud computing.
Now, fast forward to 2018, and cloud computing is everywhere; it’s advantages widely known and proven. Big, small, whatever is the business size, at least some parts of its operations are managed on cloud. In fact, according to Forbes, today, 80% of all IT budgets are committed to the cloud apps and solutions.
The Need for a Cloud Strategy
Despite its enormous advantages, switching to cloud in itself is not the solution. Much can go wrong if your cloud strategy doesn’t sync well with your business’s goals and needs. And if wrong, your investment is at risk, sometimes taking even high proportions.
To help you avoid that, this article will help you build a comprehensive cloud strategy best suited for your business.
While pay-as-you-go model is certainly the main attraction of cloud computing, the main advantage comes from the flexibility it provides. Multi-cloud strategy further builds on it by allowing organizations to avoid dependency on one provider and leverage the best that every cloud provider has to provide.
According to RightScale (a cloud management company), adoption of multi-cloud strategy is on constant rise. In a recent survey they found that 81% respondent companies are using multiple cloud, using 4.8 cloud platforms on average.
The key to implement a successful multi-cloud strategy is to figure out what services different cloud vendors offer and which of them are best suited for your business.
Let’s dig deeper into that by analyzing the top 3 cloud providers i.e., AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
AWS (Amazon Web Services) was the first cloud provider in the market and has enjoyed the benefits of being the early bird for past one decade. Here are some plus points with AWS:
- Wide Service Spectrum: A wide array of cloud services making it pretty much one-stop-solution for all sorts of business needs (125+ services across 18 categories, as depicted in the image below)
- Enterprise level cloud solution: Best fit for managing larger databases with cost effeciency
- Easy Implementation: Availability of technology partners for its implementation
Microsoft Azure, with 13% market share, is the second most popular cloud provider in the market today. And its share continues to grow for several reasons. Let’s list them down.
- Hybrid Cloud: This has been one of the biggest reasons behind Azure’s worldwide adoption; allowing organizations to benefit from the scalability and flexibility of the public cloud while ensuring control and security of on-site infrastructure. Refer to the illustration below in case you need to brush-up on the concept of hybrid cloud.
- Cost: Unlike other major cloud providers who charge per-second, Azure charges its customers per-minute basis, resulting into lower cost for a number of Virtual machine instances. Refer to the chart below for a comprehensive price comparison.
- Physical Presence: Azure (54) has physical data centers in more regions than AWS (23) or GCP (20). Physical proximity of data centers is a desirable feature for CIOs investing in cloud, which certainly gives Azure a competitive advantage.
GCP (Google Cloud Platform)
The latest entrant in the list, GCP is rapidly making its way to become one of the most popular and reliable cloud vendors. Here are the advantages you get with Google’s cloud services:
- 100+ Points of Presence (PoPs): allowing users greater control, better performance, and reduced cost across network – making GCP the fastest platform for content delivery
- Open-source Cloud Projects: Google currently offers 40+ open-source cloud based projects (such as TensorFlow, ML library) and dozens of dedicated database and developer tools (refer image below).
- Cloud IoT Core & Edge TPU: These recently launched products under GCP flag allow companies to connect, manage, and ingest data from millions of globally dispersed IoT devices and process and visualize that data in real time.
- Cloud Dataflow and BigQuery: Tools made for real-time analysis and monitoring of big data certainly give GCP an edge over other major cloud providers.
Building a Multi-Cloud Strategy
Now that we have covered the major advantages with all top 3 cloud service vendors, you should be in a better position to decide which part of which cloud platform would work best for you. However, that’s not all. Below we have briefly explained a few more concepts that will further help you in implementing a multi-cloud strategy.
Primary drivers for the adoption of multi-cloud strategy, microservices are small services (code snippet) designed for a particular task. When combined together, they make a comprehensive application. For example, as an online retailer, instead of hosting your entire ecommerce business on one platform, you can leverage individual features (microservices) such as login authentication, store locator service, rewards program, etc., each from a different platform.
- Microservices operate independently within containers (that communicated with each other using APIs). This makes them less resource-consuming, more cost-efficient, and portable across cloud platforms.
- Updating microservice based applications require only updating the concerned microservice, instead of the entire app.
Microservices and containers have improved software development, deployment, and execution; however, with multiple components running in multiple environments, the process naturally becomes a bit complex. To simplify that, there are tools.
These tools are task-specific and help organizations manage their multi-cloud ecosystem better. Mostly, there are 3rd party tools for:
- Improving security and governance
- Container and microservices management
- Orchestration and automation of disparate resources
- Integration and migration of data
- Logging and monitoring application performance, and more
All leading cloud providers support these tools. Google, in fact, offers its own proprietary tools for container management and orchestration, which can be used across multiple cloud platforms.
When it comes to digital transformation, cloud computing may no longer sound as fascinating as AI, robotics, automation, AR/VR, etc., but cloud is what provides the base infrastructure needed to make all the other technology implementations. And the foundation must always be strong.
The cloud ecosystem will continue to mature with new developments such as multi-cloud and edge computing (to be covered in another post) to further make things more efficient and flexible in order to meet the demands for the next-gen businesses aiming at constant innovation. To stay competitive, organizations must keep a constant check on their cloud strategy and stay updated with the latest trends.