Cloud strategy is first and foremost about defining your motivations and goals for adopting cloud. Most enterprises identify two or three of these needs as their primary goals:
Once you have identified your goals for adopting a cloud strategy, then you can focus on your requirements. Learn how in this cloud strategy guide.
Develop Your Cloud Strategy
Aligning the business and technical requirements of your central IT and business units is critical to the success of your cloud strategy. Avoid the common mistake of jumping in before defining business outcomes and establishing governance and control.
Your requirements will dictate whether a multi-cloud approach leveraging two or more public clouds or private clouds is optimal for your needs versus a hybrid cloud architecture where workloads run in both public and private clouds.
The annual RightScale State of the Cloud Survey of IT professionals shows that multi-cloud adoption is an ongoing trend from previous years. Among enterprises, 81 percent report that they have a multi-cloud strategy, which includes the use of multiple public clouds or multiple private clouds or a hybrid approach that includes the use of both public and private clouds.
Consider a Multi-Cloud Strategy
- Operate anywhere: The ever-expanding reach of public clouds enables you to run your applications in specific geographic regions or countries across the globe to be closer to your customers or to satisfy compliance requirements.
- Leverage existing investments: Some traditional enterprise systems and legacy hardware are good candidates for running in both private and public clouds.
- Optimize costs: Given your use case and the requirements of your application, you may find it cheaper to use one cloud provider or type of cloud for some workloads while a different cloud may prove more cost effective for other workloads.
- Access unique capabilities: Each cloud has features or services unique to that provider that may be crucial for a particular application.
- Create resilient architectures: Outages happen, but you can ensure high availability by leveraging multiple clouds for failover and disaster recovery.
- Maintain vendor leverage: Using multiple cloud providers and having the ability to move workloads allows you to negotiate the best possible discounts from your cloud provider.
- Future-proof your cloud strategy: The public cloud infrastructure market is moving rapidly, so using multiple clouds enables you to take advantage of the latest compute upgrades, services offerings, and pricing models rather than being locked into a single provider.
- Prepare for multi-cloud: In large organizations, even when there is an existing cloud strategy, it’s not uncommon for new use cases to develop that require a different cloud, or for a business unit to go rogue and start using another cloud, or for an acquisition to occur that results in the need to support multiple clouds.
- Implement best practices: Our definitive guide provides a six-step framework to help you define and implement a successful cloud strategy.
Choose the Best Cloud for Your Needs
The first step in choosing a cloud provider is to match each application’s requirements to the cloud features and services as well as to the technical requirements. Most enterprises with a multi-cloud strategy are running each application in a single cloud. It’s common for companies to run applications in one or more public clouds while also running applications in a private cloud and some applications in their virtualized environments. Occasionally, enterprises run the same application across clouds, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Public Cloud Considerations
For many enterprises, the use of public cloud meets the related goals of reducing the time it takes for developers and business units to access infrastructure and quickly getting products and services to market. To choose the right cloud for each workload, you should evaluate public cloud providers on these criteria:
Determine which country or countries you need to run your applications in to meet data residency and compliance requirements. Public cloud providers have made a significant investment in expanding their global footprints, and new regions are being created all the time.
Select Cloud Services
You will need to identify which clouds offer the services you require:
- Basic Requirements: VM sizes, SLA terms, certifications, operating systems, regions, and countries.
- Core Services: Compute, network, and storage.
- Database Services: Relational, non-relational, and other DBaaS.
- Additional Services: Data and analytics, application services, and security and identity.
To help you determine which services are offered by which cloud providers, we offer a free tool called Cloud Comparison that provides a side-by-side comparison of the equivalent service names from each cloud provider. And in this video, we give a detailed comparison of the major public cloud providers AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud:
Compare Cloud Costs
The variable cost model of cloud computing introduces significant opportunities for savings, but comparing cloud pricing is complicated. The first thing to be aware of is that prices are constantly changing. It can be difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons because cloud providers offer different pricing models, unique discounting options, and frequent price cuts.
Not only do you need to look at instance pricing but also at the overall components you will need and how much are they going to cost. On average, compute resources account for 75-80 percent of your cloud costs, so you can start there. You will also need to understand the discounting options for each of the cloud providers since that will be a major consideration in the price you pay. Here is more information on cloud pricing comparison.
Line Up Expertise and Support
To execute on your cloud strategy, you will need to identify organizational, talent, and process gaps that need to be addressed to prepare your IT organization for a cloud-first mindset. RightScale offers managed services including application assessment, application migration, development of automated templates, and training.
When evaluating cloud providers, be aware that they have different support models, some of which are priced as a percentage of your cloud spend. So if your spend is significant, your support costs will be greater as a result. Another option for you to consider is RightScale Support, which goes beyond RightScale products support to include expert assistance with your cloud application stack:
- Discovering and fixing cloud infrastructure problems quickly.
- Debugging incompatibilities and patching operating system images.
- Setting up and configuring common third-party software components.
Private Cloud Considerations
For workloads that have a steady-state load 24x7, you may find that a private cloud is more cost effective than on-demand public cloud infrastructure. Or you may have specific networking functions and hardware requirements or regulatory and data sovereignty requirements that can only be met with private cloud.
Network latency is another consideration: If your users are in an area distant from a public cloud data center, latency could slow down access to your application and make a private cloud a better option. Similarly, a cloud application for your internal users may run faster using an on-premises private cloud.