The cloud has provided the world with a new consumption model for information technology, significantly changing the way that software and servers are procured and deployed. But is it worth risking the familiarity, security, and control that on-premise systems provide?
Editor’s note: This interview with David Linthicum was recorded for Coding Over Cocktails - a podcast by Toro Cloud.
The cloud has changed the way enterprises provision and deploy IT. Although dealing with databases, storage, compute cycles and other platforms that can be leveraged on premise still have their place, the cloud has provided a new consumption model that is continuously evolving.
For over 20 years, Deloitte Consulting Chief Cloud Strategy Officer and Gigaom Research Analyst David Linthicum has witnessed and documented the evolution of cloud computing.
"If you look at what cloud computing is in the way it evolved to be, it’s in essence the ability to configure a data centre virtually," he tells us in an interview for Coding Over Cocktails.
Whilst the first generation of cloud computing provided capacity on demand for compute, storage, and networking, the second generation that exists today includes technologies that do not typically exist on-premise, such as machine learning-based systems, serverless computing, and AI.
Linthicum says that this evolution is what allows us to leverage technology that back then was unaffordable and unobtainable.
"Probably five years ago, the cloud kind of crossed the chasm where they have better technology than we do on premise – whether it's security, governance, management, or monitoring," Linthicum explains.
He adds that the cloud also makes businesses more efficient and speeds up their processes significantly.
"The great thing about the cloud is you can do it in about an hour versus if you’re a traditional enterprise and you have to go through procurement cycles, it’s gonna take six months to a year even for the standard Global 2000 companies."
"In cloud computing, it’s a matter of spending for what you need. It’s a matter of core integration technologies. It's a matter of layering in different security platforms and doing it so at the speed of need. That's the revolution of it."
Familiarity of on-premise vs innovation in the cloud
Despite this, some organisations still choose to invest largely on legacy, on-premise systems, while balancing this with the cloud, creating a hybrid cloud setup.
According to Linthicum, the reason for this is because enterprises will have the tendency to lean towards the native tools and technologies that they’re used to.
"We're getting to security, we're getting to governance, we're getting management monitoring, which has this duality of roles where they're able to monitor systems that we own, monitor systems and manage service providers and CoLos as well as in the public cloud. That's new to everybody. Everybody has a tendency to kind of want to leverage whatever native tools and technologies are there moving forward."
Linthicum explains that there will also be a certain amount of infrastructure that organizations would have to own and cannot be migrated on the cloud. Once a saturation point is hit, which he estimates is between 70-75%, the remaining 30% that is still valuable to the business needs to be migrated somewhere else.
Linthicum adds that he doesn’t really see legacy systems completely disappearing. Instead, they could become a big part of an organisation’s infrastructure. These would either be run on managed service providers, colocation facility providers, or in private data centres.
He also says that organisations are finding it more cost-effective to move from the cloud back to their own data centres.
"If they're able to own the hardware and software and [are] able to optimise that and optimise the network bandwidth as it goes between them, and the user is able to do so at a decreased cost, that's where you're going to be. And I think we're going to see a lot of that."
When on-premise makes more sense
"I'm here to basically mediate the best solution to the problem and the best architecture, which is going to be optimised in a certain way. And sometimes that's on-premise." Linthicum says.
He admits that there will be certain use-cases when moving to the cloud isn’t always the best option, such as data sovereignty issues in certain regions that have strict data retention rates.
"If you have to audit these systems in a certain way, in many instances, the cloud providers just don't provide a way for you to do that. You can't walk through their data centres, for example, and take the serial numbers off of their servers. You don't know where their data centres are."
Linthicum adds that being overly concerned about the cloud’s control aspect is another reason to set aside the idea of moving to the cloud.
"In other words, you're going to think that you're running a risk, even though I don't think you're going to be running a risk. Those are reasons to hold off for now."
Taking the leap to the cloud is worth it
However, enterprises could be missing out if they don’t consider going up the cloud. According to Linthicum, things are going to get better in the cloud and organisations may not be able to see it for themselves if they don’t take the jump.
"Security is going to get better. Governance is going to get better. So you can have any kind of reservations of the fact that we're taking additional risk and moving into the cloud, [but] any migration comes along with a risk."
When it comes to cost justification, Linthicum explains that spending on the cloud should consider both cost-efficiency and business agility in the organisation.
"Your constant risk is going to be way above 10%. Maybe it's worth the risk. And if there's other mitigating factors there, the ability to leverage technology as a force multiplier for your business and agility and those sorts of things – it's something you should probably do."
Linthicum talks more about the risks and rewards of going cloud-native in this episode of Coding Over Cocktails - a podcast by Toro Cloud.
This podcast series tackles issues faced by enterprises as they manage the process of digital transformation, application integration, low-code application development, data management, and business process automation. It’s available for streaming in most major podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.