The cloud has long been touted as the lowest-cost IT option for the enterprise. It might not provide all the bells and whistles as traditional infrastructure, but its vast size gives it the economies of scale that no other solution can match.
But that view is being increasingly challenged.
According to a recent survey by DataCore Software, which offers storage virtualization products and services to enterprises and cloud providers alike, nearly a third of organizations report an increase in costs after moving services like storage to the cloud. Even advances like Flash storage sometimes fail to live up to their promises, with about 16 percent saying they have had little effect on application performance. The take-away here is that underlying systems and architectures are only as good as your ability to manage them.
Proper management can actually produce a less costly, more streamlined cloud on private resources than on public ones, say analysts at 451 Research. In a recent report sponsored by VMware, the company claims that more than 40 percent of enterprises are operating their private clouds at less cost than their public deployments, with an additional 24 percent saying the cost differential for their private cloud is less than 10 percent. The report goes on to say that key factors in lowering private cloud costs are automation and capacity planning, which eliminate the trouble-ticket approach to IT service fulfillment that is responsible for the majority of delays and miscommunication that occurs in provisioning and management processes.
Of course, there is no reason why these same tools cannot be implemented on a public cloud, as long as providers are willing to support them, that is. Chris Talbott, Google’s head of cloud storage product marketing, tells Enterprise Storage Forum that he recognizes that the company has a vast array of services, tiers and price points, which is why it offers guidance on data management, asset utilization, strategic planning and other functions. As well, the company has partnered with NetApp, Veritas, Nutanix and a host of other firms to help enterprises extend their internal storage environments into the cloud.
Indeed, it is becoming increasingly rare for any type of data or infrastructure management stack to not offer a cloud component. In many cases, they are evolving past mere oversight to active control and optimization. RightScale recently demonstrated its latest upgrade, RightScale Optima, that unites the company’s existing analysis, reporting and forecasting tools under an integrated framework tailored toward AWS, Google, Azure and other leading cloud services. In this way, the company says it can deliver quick ROI on cloud deployments, as well as automated collaboration between users and rapid implementation of policy-based management recommendations.
It was always a bit naïve to think that the cloud provided a magic bullet for all the woes that plague traditional IT infrastructure. Like any environment, proper resource management is the key to positive outcomes, and this is particularly true when you lease those resources rather than own them.
Ultimately, of course, it is the enterprise that bears responsibility for its data performance and cost controls, both of which are becoming increasingly vital in the transition to a digital services-based business model.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.