So, you’ve heard about this Cloud thingy and you want to put all of your infrastructure up there, but want to know the pros and cons of migrating to the cloud before you make the jump? Read on to found out all about it…
Cloud computing is a fancy term for computing resources hosted by someone else in a data centre they control.
The official definition from the National Institute of Standards and Technology states:
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
The major players (and to a lesser degree the small companies) built their own data centres from the ground up specifically for the purpose of instant deployment of thousands of customers’ computing needs in a massively scalable way.
You can deploy instances (virtual computers), networking and storage instantly that scales to almost to any degree.
In the past you would buy a server, wait a month for it to be delivered, spent the morning installing and configuring it and then take it to the data centre to put it online. You would have to pay for the data centre hosting, the internet connection and the server, plus the cost of installation with the Sysadmin’s salaries.
Nowadays, you can have virtual server (instance) up and running within a minute. You can install all the software you want and then save that instance as an image (an exact replica of the contents of a storage device on a second storage device) which you can then deploy from directly next time. The fully configured server can be done within minutes rather than a month or so.
You can turn off what you don’t use when you are not using it
For new companies and startups that want to be agile and grow quickly, it allows them to compete with the big players in a way unthinkable before the cloud.
Have a spike in your website traffic when a new marketing campaign comes online? In the past you used to have to buy more servers or have timeouts on the site, now you just auto scale capacity to match demand (By yourself by adjusting the settings? )and when the demand decreases, just delete the instances that are no longer required.
You can reduce the number of System Administrators you employ
There is now less required from networking, server and storage administrators to create complex networks as these can be deployed instantly and with scripts:
– In AWS see Cloud Formation – https://aws.amazon.com/cloudformation/faqs/
– In Azure you can use Desired State Configuration https://azure.microsoft.com/en-au/blog/what-why-how-azure-automation-desired-state-configuration/
Of course you can still use Chef, Puppet and other Orchestration tools out there if you like.
However this does mean that to get the best out of the cloud, you need to find people with the right skill sets to navigate this new world. It is challenging to utilise these hundreds of shiny new services correctly and make sure this is done economically and correctly the first time around.
Serverless technology or event driven technology is where an event such as an http request to a website creates a task which then provides a response. You remove any computing resources from your spend at all.
If you make 2 requests you pay for 2 requests, a million you pay for a million – it is the ultimate pay for only what you use which saves money, compared to always on computing instances. It is also great for Internet of Things sensor inflow and media files, Twitter feeds, image uploads – all sorts of things can be made serverless. This is where the Cloud works best.
Storage and Backup
If you use the right storage i.e. S3 storage or Blob storage in AWS and Azure respectively it is amazingly cheap and durable compared to purchased storage arrays you would have in a hosted data centre.
You can store terabytes of data for hundreds of dollars a month. This makes it an excellent choice for offsite backups and data redundancy plays.
You need to be careful here as some of the other storage options (SSD volumes, EFS and NFS file systems) can cost a lot more per terabyte. This is where expertise and careful planning are required.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Processing
Then there are services available in cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft’s Azure and others that you pretty much CAN’T realistically have access to outside of the cloud because it would be prohibitively expensive.
You can translate to different languages, from voice to text and back again, recognise and categorise images and videos and run advanced machine learning algorithms without knowing any programming. This is the future of technology and the cloud providers make it possible and easily available to anyone with a credit card – truly amazing.
High memory instances with many virtual CPUs can cost a LOT of money. Some of the big AWS and Azure instances can cost $10,000+ per month PER SERVER! You could purchase a cheap high powered server with a lot of RAM for say $15,000 with the same amount of RAM that you would pay $10,000 per month for. Even with hosting and Sys admin fees you can see how quickly this becomes SERIOUSLY uneconomical on the cloud.
Database instances such as AWS’s Relational Database Service and the big MS SQL Server instances also cost a lot of money and so your monthly spend will sky rocket. But the backups, patching etc, are at least handled by the cloud provider.
It is easy if you don’t know what you’re doing to spend a lot of money without realising. I have seen horror stories of Autoscaling gone wrong and $20,000 bills sent that month to a shocked owner.
Most cloud providers have advanced compliance with PCI, HIPAA, ISO 9001 and many other standards but that doesn’t mean your compute instances or websites in the cloud are automatically secure or you can’t be hacked.
The model is shared responsibility so you must do due diligence like you would with a data centre or on premises to make sure you are secure.
With proper planning and the skill to know what services and combinations of services to use, the Cloud can be an incredibly useful tool for infrastructure hosting at scale and with the potential for massive redundancy.
However, if you don’t plan this correctly or don’t know what you’re doing you can get yourself into trouble and spent much more that you need to.
It is essential to speak to a professional to help you with your journey and restrict and limit your spending – removing unused resources and turning off services that aren’t required to keep on top of this.
Exxa can help you with Migrations and also ensure that you keep on top of your expenses with consolidated billing and a cost optimisation website which shows you how to ensure you don’t spend more than you should be.
If you’d like to talk to us about your cloud migration, don’t hesitate to Contact Us Today.
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