Since the dawn of cloud computing, companies have had to determine which workloads to put in the cloud and which to keep on premises. In the excitement of the early days, it seemed that everything should be in the cloud. These days, IT teams are taking a more strategic approach.
Choosing the optimal place for your applications takes time and careful thought. Different configurations work for different needs. Here are four key issues to consider.
Compliance is a big driver for many businesses, especially in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services. It's also critical for companies with global operations, which must deal with data sovereignty issues. For example, privacy laws in the European Union differ from those in the United States. If you're storing information from your French division on U.S. servers, are you complying with the appropriate laws?
When compliance needs are complex or a cloud solution won't stand up to an audit, look to storing that data on premises.
It's important to understand how the cloud solution fits with your security guidelines. What's the provider's security policy? How is it split among involved stakeholders — data center owner, provider and your own enterprise?
If you can't figure out who is responsible for each element of security, or the security level doesn't meet your requirements, you need to keep that data or application on premises.
When using shared infrastructure, you don't have any way of knowing what other applications are on the network or how their performance requirements impact service. What kind of performance do your applications and data require? Consider that the biggest technology companies around (like Google) don't use the public cloud because it would degrade performance for their critical applications.
For applications that need optimized or real-time performance, the best option is an on-premises solution. Public-facing applications (like portals or e-commerce sites) are well-suited to the cloud because traffic is dynamic and the cloud enables infinite scaling and easy access.
The cloud can be cost-effective for storing some kinds of data or for applications that don't need much processing power. However, cloud prices are dynamic — based on the storage and processing you need — so be sure to consider your usage patterns.
For applications that require a lot of processing power, on the other hand, it may be cheaper to invest in an on-premises solution.
Keep in mind, though, that the choice for workload placement isn't simply between cloud and on premises. The third option is a hybrid solution — one that uses the best both have to offer.
When trying to decide, ask yourself questions like these:
- What does the application do?
- What dependencies does it have — e.g. are there other data or applications it links to?
- How will this workload perform best and minimize latency with the applications it uses most?
Where to put workloads isn't a one-time decision. To keep your entire network running optimally, you have to revisit the mix on a regular basis — prices, storage options and performance change all the time. Factoring all this in requires time, effort and continual analysis.
Tackling this challenge isn't always a smart use of your resources. As you think about the best distribution for your workloads, consider working with a third-party IT services provider to help make the decisions. The right vendor can scan critical workloads and ensure optimal placement for your applications. That way, you can focus on strategy and optimizing your company's value proposition.
If you would like to learn more, about the challenges that are top-of-mind for IT leaders in the cloud era, watch our Hybrid Cloud Exploration Webinar series with Frost & Sullivan.