Is the Cloud Really Ready for your Business?

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Posted on Friday, July 10, 2015

The public Cloud has been called many things, most of which involve the words ‘solution’ and ‘to all your problems’. The idea of unlimited storage and processing available at the click of a mouse is seductive, particularly for the CTO tasked with providing capacity to cover all eventualities on an ever-diminishing budget. More importantly still, public Cloud services promised to integrate seamlessly with onsite resources to create a single, transparent platform.

But is Cloud technology really delivering on these bold claims?

The problem of being seamless

A truly seamless computing experience relies on near instantaneous access to data and resources. On the local network such seamlessness is possible to achieve because systems are designed to interface natively, and all bandwidth requirements can be managed internally. As soon as an unknown factor, represented by the at-times transient nature of the Internet, enters into the equation, the illusion of instantaneous availability is lost.

To combat this, early adopters have moved to a hybrid Cloud model, relying on local resources to provide the main computing power, but reserving access to Cloud systems to provide an automatic offload when system demands reach a pre-defined maximum limit. This ‘Cloud bursting’ model should allow businesses to take the best of on-demand computing and marry it with their on-site systems to deliver the seamless experience demanded.

But the reality is that very few service providers have systems in place that come close to delivering. A number of competing technologies like OpenStack have been designed to provide the functionality, but not only are they rare, but they cannot apparently deliver the experience promised in real world applications.

Seamless. And complicated

For the CTO charged with managing Cloud burst scenarios, things get even worse. Offloading of processing may be seamless, but the management tools required to configure and maintain the system certainly are not. Configurations, permissions and settings will need to be maintained on on-site systems and in the Cloud, eating into the promised savings of Cloud bursting.

Stick or twist

The Cloud remains relatively young, particularly when compared to established on-site storage and processing technologies. It is little surprise then that demand will outstrip technical capabilities at times, as seems to be the case with Cloud bursting at present.

For the CTO who wants to simplify their job and deliver against strategic demands, choosing an on-site alternative may be preferable. If expense is a significant issue, third party post-warranty services provide a way to achieve cost-effective data storage and expansion capabilities using existing, familiar assets. And in doing so, the CTO may actually generate the cost savings expected of Cloud alternatives.

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