Strategies for Leveraging the Cloud

WHICH Cloud is right for Me?

Clouds are not all built equal. Or, to be more precise, they’re not all built the same.

Obviously all clouds charge for the compute, storage and service resources that customers use. On that basis, they are reasonably comparable, but important differences exist. For example, some clouds charge you for moving your data from region to region in the world, others do not. That can have startling impacts to cost structure depending on what your data management requirements are, and what your backup architecture looks like. Many clouds don’t allow you to co-locate your own equipment in their data centres, but some do, and that can be advantageous in many cases. Then there’s the clouds that aren’t clouds in the usual sense, but provide co-location space with direct connections to public clouds so that you can build hybrid cloud solutions and leverage global network constructs that are cost effective and otherwise unattainable.

At IT Blueprint, we help navigate the waters (OK, the clouds) to understand your current and future consumption plans, design the optimal solution and assist in the implementation.

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I can just lift into the Cloud can’t I?

Of course you can, but should you?

Lifting into the cloud is, on the one hand, the quickest and simplest way to get off premise. On the other hand, for many customers, it is also the most expensive way to consume cloud resources.

Transformation provides the opportunity to increase effectiveness while driving out costs. For example, provisioning the same servers and equivalent storage to run your database in the cloud is an obvious way to lift from on premise. Transforming to consume a Database as a Service might offer a substantial reduction in total cost of ownership. Many applications can be run more flexibly and at lower cost by containerizing them. The options may seem endless.

IT Blueprint assists customers in understanding their current workloads, be they on premise or in the cloud, and spotting major opportunities to transform to a cloud paradigm that improves function while driving out costs.

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The Cloud as a Backup Target

When it comes to backing up data, options still abound. From our dear old friend tape, to appliances, to the cloud. Is cloud a cost effective alternative?

In brief, yes, but with some caveats. The first thing to remember is that the lowest cost storage services (for example AWS Glacier) are really just tape on the back end, with all the limitations for restore functions that tape implies (so ensure you understand the SLA before jumping in). Then there’s the matter of architecture and how it impacts costs. A traditional weekly full and daily incremental will arrive at a much higher cost structure than will an incremental forever strategy, but the latter must be designed with care or restores may become a challenge. Nor will your cloud service compress and de-duplicate your data (in most cases) you’ll have to architect those functions elsewhere in your backup ecosystem, or incur costs that may well rise out of control.

IT Blueprint brings backup architects to the table who will understand your backup requirements from a business perspective, and plan out a backup system that meets your goals while mitigating the costs of a cloud target.

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The Cloud as a DR Target

Cloud can be a low cost DR target for Cloud and On Premise Customers alike.

The Cloud as a Disaster Recovery target is a logical choice for customers running cloud based workloads, but also for customers who wish to remain on premise. The advantage is obvious. Cloud resources can be spun up on demand. So as long as you have well architected and tested recovery plan, your disaster recovery resources (other than data storage) are for all intents and purpose, no cost unless you have a disaster. But as always, things are not just that simple.

For example, should you replicate your data to production storage? Sure, that’s an option that will give you an amazingly short recovery time, but the storage costs might be eye popping. You could go the other way and store your data compressed and deduplicated on the lowest cost storage tier available. But now you need a plan to get it back into a usable format for disaster recovery. Not only will you need processes in place for that, but you’ll need some level of orchestration to restore the environment as a whole in an orderly fashion. Just to complicate matters, the backup and disaster recovery tools you are running now may well have been designed for an on premise environment, while cloud born tools might be a better option for you.

For most customers, a combination of approaches is what is going to make the most sense. Data on production class storage with automated fail over for mission critical applications, and more manual processes on lower tier storage at the other end of the spectrum. The right tools (traditional or cloud born) for each need.

IT Blueprint brings Disaster Recovery architects to the table who can work through your business requirements, and design, implement, and test solutions that achieve those goals.

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The Cloud-Beside-the-Cloud

One strategy frequently overlooked by cloud based customers is the use of co-location data centres with direct, low latency, connectivity to all the public clouds.

By locating their own infrastructure (typically storage) in these centres, customers can create an array of advantages for themselves.

But wait! Wasn’t the goal to get away from owning your own infrastrucutre? Well of course it is, and we can mitigate that by providing (for example) managed storage. But put that aside for the moment and consider the advantages.

The most expensive thing in the cloud is storage. Locating your data outside the cloud can have startling impacts on cost, while still giving you the luxury of spinning up enormous compute power when you need it, and spinning it down when you don’t. But the advantages hardly stop there. With your data outside the cloud, you have no fear of cloud lock-in. If you’re not happy with your current cloud provider, you can switch to a different one with ease. Building a multi-cloud strategy becomes a breeze. Your options for backup just exploded, and so did your options for moving data across the country or around the world.

IT Blueprint partners with the leading players in the cloud-beside-the-cloud space. We work to understand your technical requirements, design a solution that meets them, and work with you to implement it.

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