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Date:
Feb 9, 2016

Finding the Right Home for Cloud Apps

Finding the right place for your apps to live is like shopping for real estate, with choices between owning, renting, and hybrid models.

Owning your own home is like owning your own data center. Alternatively, a hotel lets you use as many rooms as you need without much of a commitment, which is like parking your applications in the public cloud. And hybrid clouds are somewhere in the middle.

Owning a Data Center and Owning a Home

Running your own data center is similar to owning your home. It takes a strong — and expensive — commitment, and it assumes that you will be staying at a location for a long time. You have total control and ultimate responsibility. The homeowner bears the burden for power, cooling, paint on the wall, smoke detectors and the lawn. You have the keys; you’re in charge of who can come and go. For privacy, you don’t share driveways or walls with your neighbors.

Likewise, owning and managing a data center introduces substantial liabilities and costs in security, power and cooling. Modern facilities require huge amounts of power to run effectively, and all of that power must be backed up with generators for emergency purposes. The data center needs a cooling system powerful enough to keep a giant room packed with hot machines at around 70º Fahrenheit. It also needs a top-notch physical security system with multiple cameras, biometric readers, and checkpoints. Data center management quickly becomes a very expensive business decision.

As a home owner, you must pay for insurance, taxes and mortgage and you have to update and maintain your house as it ages. All responsibilities fall to the homeowner, and it takes a lot of work to keep things operating smoothly.

Likewise, when you own a data center, upkeep, maintenance, taxes, insurance and the added liability of meeting compliance requirements to house customer data, common expenses add up to a significant portion of the bottom line. The trade-off for these liabilities is that you get ultimate control and privacy. You don’t have to share network traffic, servers or storage resources with anyone, and you can make any changes you need, within reason.

Natural apps to live in your own data center, in your own home, are those subject to regulatory compliance (e.g., PCI, HIPPA, FISMA), legacy and back office apps, such as custom software, complex and custom websites, OSS workflow and legacy ERP applications. These apps require a lot of customization and have very specific security needs.

Dedicated Server Hosting and Renting a Home

When renting a home, you have much less liability. You still live with the security and privacy benefits of owning your own home, but the impact of maintenance and costs are someone else’s responsibility, freeing up some of your capital to invest elsewhere. Renting a home is similar to hosting your website or app with a hosting provider specialist. You’re not locked into a long-term commitment. Less responsibility means more flexibility, but it also adds concerns. For hosting, the consideration is whether your hosting provider has a solid and secure network and is offering exceptional service and 24/7/365 support.

Applications subject to regulatory compliance (e.g., PCI, HIPPA, FISMA), custom applications, databases, big data apps and modern ERP applications are suited for a dedicated hosting platform that’s essentially rented space. This is because you can define appropriate settings in a dedicated hosting environment and maintain control.

Hotels and Hosting on the Public Cloud

The public cloud is analogous to hotel living. Here you have a multitude of transient tenants sharing a structure designed to split the cost of maintenance and upkeep to keep costs low.

Hotels, like the public cloud, offer as many rooms as you may need and are willing to pay for. Costs are shared and there is a convenience of having rooms on demand and on a nightly basis, which creates a much greater benefit for you.

Next Page: But What About Room Service?

Hosting your infrastructure on the public cloud is like booking a stay at a hotel, as both offer ultimate scalability. If I want to host a convention for 300 people, I can do that in a hotel. If I know my website will be hit with massive traffic spikes on Black Friday, the public cloud can easily scale up to meet those increased needs. That’s something I can’t do in my own house or rented apartment.

The downside of staying at a hotel — or hosting on the public cloud — is that you share space with others and your privacy is minimal. Because there are many more variables at play, you have far less control here than when you host on a dedicated server.

Packaged apps such as test/dev, SaaS, websites, blogs and wikis are right at home in a public cloud. These types of applications have variable loads. Like people coming in and out of a hotel building, the load of these applications moves in cycles throughout the day.

SaaS applications and applications with variable workloads (like social media apps) also need the space and flexibility of on-demand capacity, meaning they’re suited for the hotel-like space of the cloud. You can have as much as you need, when you need it — all at a cost, of course. Static workloads, such as an accounting system, are not suited for living in a public cloud for multiple reasons, the primary being cost. The load is not going to change much. Most would not consider living 365 days a year for five years in a hotel room; the privacy would be poor and the costs prohibitive.

A New Kind of Living Arrangement: On-Demand Hybrid

For the best of both worlds — control and privacy — look to on-demand hybrid hosting. It is the way of the future. Imagine you are hosting a conference being held in a hotel in the same town you own a home. You can go to the conference at a hotel, use all the amenities and conveniences available to do your work efficiently, host as many guests as you need to, then return home from work when you need to enjoy the privacy and security of your own home. This, in short, is the new on-demand hybrid experience. It is the reality many of us live in. We have an apartment or a house, and also use hotels as needed to accommodate overflow guests. Hybrid is essentially just that, but for hosting world.

Another benefit of hybrid hosting is the elimination of many of the public cloud concerns from providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) – overpaying for bandwidth, delays due to noisy neighbors, and the lack of help in customizing infrastructure configuration. Because it offers the privacy of dedicated hosting, hybrid also eliminates concerns surrounding regulatory compliance like PCI and HIPAA.

Hybrid Hosting is the Future

The hybrid cloud has eliminated some of the greatest concerns of the public cloud:

  • You won’t overpay for cloud resources.
  • You can implement data isolation for performance and security reasons.
  • You can have all the performance you need, where you need it in a hybrid architecture.
  • You can address regulatory concerns.
  • You can customize everything.

I’m very excited for the future. We’re sitting at an amazing intersection of technologies, market trends and usage that will drive our industry forward. To truly embrace this future, it’s vital to consider the many benefits of hybrid hosting, develop a hybrid strategy, and ensure you don’t get locked into false choices or overspend on cloud hype. To figure out how to best serve the massive amounts of data being created every day, all it takes is to join the movement, and look at this new world through a hybrid lens.

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