Public, private, hybrid: How to optimize ROI for the tiered business cloud

The following is a guest article from Rajesh Ram, co-founder and chief customer officer at Egnyte.

From OpenStack to on-premises, Salesforce to Intranet, clouds have become integrated into the IT landscape like never before. While the cloud offers solutions to many IT issues, technical and business fundamentals dictate that most companies exist in a hybrid environment of on-prem machines living out their days, private clouds used for holding confidential data and public clouds left to store less sensitive information.

Businesses need to find the best way to balance operational and capital expenditures, and keep budgets in check in this type of multi-faceted environment.

Rajesh Ram, CCO and co-founder at Egnyte

Here are a few things to consider when looking to optimize ROI for a tiered cloud.

1. Hybrid IT is a natural outcome

The cloud provides many benefits, but it's not a universal cure all. In comparing public versus private cloud, for example, companies need to take into account the nature of the applications and data they are considering migrating to the cloud.

The hybrid cloud is a logical stage for many companies. By utilizing a hybrid cloud configuration, businesses can attain a full return on capital investments — letting servers live their full lifespan before virtualizing — while making sure to properly balance operational expenditures between private and public clouds.

Some data is so large, and the operations performed on that data so complex, that the public cloud does not offer the performance benefits required. As a result, the costs associated with the public cloud may exceed those of the private cloud, both financially and functionally.

Conversely, the public cloud may be more appropriate for exactly the data and application types for which it was initially endorsed. When required resources vary greatly and seasonally, the public cloud offers cost benefits and efficient archiving. 

2. EFSS is Still Evolving

While just a few years back it seemed that cloud vendors were in a race to the bottom, in terms of cost, the cloud isn't actually a commodity — at least not for businesses, which require much more advanced functionality than an average consumer.

At first, Amazon Web Services enjoyed its first-mover status and was the go-to location for companies seeking to move apps to the public cloud. Now, companies are realizing that it's not as simple as just "going to the cloud." There are nuances — where you put your data and how you handle sharing and collaboration determines how performant and secure that data is.

In response, some companies are actually choosing to move off of AWS and build their own, private data centers. A private data center can offer increased performance, whereas the public cloud may incur a greater latency. Additionally, a private data center can be customized, offering more control and visibility.

Recent developments, such as Google's Cloud Platform announced earlier in 2016, have made the transition to a more robust and customizable version of the cloud even easier for the enterprise market. Whatever enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) you’re using, chances are that it too is evolving — and that is as it should be.

3. Rebalance OpEx and CapEx

With companies finding themselves somewhere on the spectrum of the hybrid cloud, it is important to carefully assess technological needs to determine a balanced approach between capital and operational expenditures.

The first step is to evaluate your company's current environment and the inherent nature of both your operations and your existing infrastructure. Is your content constantly changing or relatively static? Do you need high-speed access to data or does it sit mostly dormant? Is application traffic more or less steady over time or highly variable with file size? What level of integration will you need to ensure between legacy applications and new applications? How will you achieve regulatory compliance that requires tracking changes and storing content for the right duration of time?

These answers will help you delineate the specific IT environment you need.

You should also have a full understanding of all the alternatives and how they relate to your needs and existent environment. As mentioned, a large capital investment in on-prem infrastructure can be reason enough, but beyond that, on-prem servers also offer performance efficiencies, such as low-latency access to multimedia files for editing purposes, increased security for regulated content and increased customization.

On the other hand, the public cloud can serve as a reliable form of long-term data archiving, offers a perfect environment for testing, and can be the best option for instances where demand is uncertain, volatile or seasonal. The private cloud, meanwhile, provides high-performance access to files, and more easily integrates logistically to interact with legacy systems.

From here, it is best to budget out different potential scenarios to try and determine which solution works best. Although prevailing wisdom seems to assert that the cloud always offers cost-savings over other alternatives, there are certain applications that would see little to no cost benefit from migrating to the cloud. Carefully examine not only the operational expenses of the technology itself, but the worker hours required to possibly rewrite existing code, or other such tasks.

Finally, understand the technological trajectory of the various aspects of your business and how they relate to future cloud technologies. Planning for the future is a big part of reducing costs and making sure further painful migrations aren't awaiting you.

Filed Under: IT Strategy Cloud Computing