Is Public Cloud living up to its billing?

It has been a while. But is the shine finally wearing off, when it comes to the often extolled advantages for organisations firstly adopting a Cloud-only strategy and then putting Public Cloud at the heart of this new approach?

Having given up their on-premise solutions and gone all-in on Public Cloud, there are signs the runaway costs typically associated with what was at the outset a great concept, are causing a re-think in boardrooms across the globe.

There were early clues something was not quite right when it comes to handling data in the Public Cloud. In 2016 DropBox built its own data centres and moved 90% of its data away from AWS, reportedly reduced operating costs by $75 million in the first two years.

Despite the considerable outlay and claiming the move was designed to improve performance and control, this was a timely indicator that Public Cloud could be expensive. Really expensive. Especially as almost every organisation relies on capturing and moving more and more data every day.

Good in theory less so in practice

On paper the argument for Cloud is compelling. It allows organisations to virtualise workflows, reduce hardware and the associated maintenance costs, outsource responsibility for security, gain the ability to scale quickly and all available at the click of a mouse.

The need to work remotely for many organisations throughout the pandemic drove many into the arms of the Cloud service providers and Public Cloud in particular, with the promise of remote desktops, collaborative working and secure connections.

The big winners in this global problem were the big Public Cloud service providers, all of which reported significant growth in 2021, with Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure leading the way, but Google’s owners Alphabet a close third.

Whilst great news for these giant global players, Public Cloud is not without its problems and challenges for many organisations. As the need to react quickly to the pandemic’s necessary remote working requirements recede, many organisations are now re-assessing decisions made in haste, to look more closely at the alternatives to Public Cloud.

Problems and challenges of Public Cloud?

The touted strength of the Public Cloud, that they do all the heavy lifting and you as a client defer responsibility for most, if not all aspects of systems and structure to the them, is also the greatest weakness of the offering. You have lost a large degree of control.

You have sold off your own house and effectively become a tenant in someone else’s property. You have sacrificed your known monthly mortgage and maintenance costs, to replace them with a monthly rental that you have little control over and even less idea what it will be each time.

Now it is your Cloud provider that configures your platform, typically to suit its operation and other tenants, which not be ideal for you. They take care of security, but again it will be configured in such a way that it suits the majority of subscribers and a generic approach might not keep you safe.

You have to consider if the security provision in the Public Cloud will meet any regulatory or compliance requirements associated with your activities. Is the data being stored or replicated in the country it was created, which can have implications for regulations such as GDPR?

And of course, like a tenant in a shared property standing outside the bathroom, sharing resources can reduce performance and impact the user experience. In the always-on, quick as you can world, Public Cloud risk introducing latency as you battle other tenants you don’t know, for more resources.

But perhaps the biggest problem of Public Cloud identified by many users over the recent past, is the billing. Not the hundreds of line items to work through each month to allocate costs internally, but just the overall cost, which can be a shock for many.

The cost structure ensures uncontrolled data usage delivers unpredictable costs. You can try to mitigate by promising to use certain amounts of data, but a quiet month means wasting money on the unused amount. It’s tricky and will only get more difficult not less, in the Public Cloud future.

Certain sectors should consider alternatives

If you recognise the issues raised above, then Public Cloud is probably not the ideal solution for your business, at least not completely, whether you are assessing your options based on current experiences, or looking to migrate some or all of your activities to the Cloud.

If you collect, manipulate or manage sensitive data, working in the legal, financial or healthcare sectors for example, you will be expected to devote a lot of resources to protecting that data. This can  and that can be hard, when you do not have full and control.

When performance matters, sharing capacity with other organisations can be a problem, particularly when you don’t know who they are and whether their activities are resource intensive with regular intermittent spiking.

There will be other specific use cases for organisations across a broad range of sectors, when the alternatives to public Cloud will not only deliver a better performance, with improved security and reliability, but do so at a lower cost, or at least one that is predictable each month.

In part two of our look at Public Cloud

We hope you found something valuable in the preceding four minutes reading, but if you have any questions about migrating to, or indeed away from, Public Cloud, please get in touch and we’ll help you decide which solution or combination of solutions is right for your organisation.

In part two of this look at Public Cloud and its potential weaknesses, we’ll cover the alternatives and the potential future for Cloud solutions.

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