The technology field is home to an unpredictable and ever changing landscape. Something heralded as an “industry game changer” today can be reduced to little more than an afterthought in just a few years’ time. Alternatively, other tech that is brushed aside as nothing more than a novelty item can quickly bloom into a massive business. Since no one can accurately predict what will succeed, and what will fail, it’s important to keep up to date on the new technology.
Cloud is everywhere; it’s hard to ignore. The benefits of cloud computing can be endless (just check out this blog from Zirous’ Director of PMO Brandon) with their own set of buzzwords: agility, flexibility, scalability, and cost optimization. Being such great benefits, it’s hard to find a cloud migration article without them. Companies read and hear about the benefits of cloud migration but often struggle with applying those benefits to current problems they are facing. Many times, moving to the cloud is touted as a silver bullet to fix current problems, but actually solving those problems can be much more complex.
Agility in the cloud allows companies to make quicker business decisions by evaluating POCs hosted in the cloud and shorten the length to provision resources than traditional on-premises environments. Sounds magical — why wouldn’t you want that? We agree, but also realize it takes more than an AWS or Azure environment to make that dream a reality. Is your organization structure a bridge or barrier to making quick decisions? If teams within an organization do not have the autonomy to make decisions or there is no clear structure to provision resources, it could hinder the organization’s ability to benefit from the agility. If there is not enough structure in an organization, then the cloud environment (and bill) may get out of hand quickly with individual teams spinning up resources with no regard to organizing or tagging. On the flip side, if there are too many approvals needed to create a resource, it could create a bottleneck in the approval process and end up resembling the current lengthy provisioning process of on-premises servers. It’s a tough balance to strike, and each organization is different in their needs.
Conquering agility challenges often requires trial and error over years of evaluation and fine tuning. Zirous helps by assessing the current structures and processes to evaluate what is currently being done with suggestions to improve those processes to fit into the broader cloud strategy. An outside perspective from Zirous can identify the bottlenecks and potential for efficiencies to speed up the trial and error process.
Flexibility of the cloud allows for companies to put their servers and applications wherever they want. Cloud service providers such as AWS or Azure have tools that allow companies to pick and choose the right tools for the job. EC2 instances and virtual machine instances are popular choices that fit a variety of needs. There are also specialty tools such as Lambda and Azure Functions to provide a means to serverless code. So many choices can be overwhelming, and knowing which one is the best choice often takes intense research or years of experience. Pair that overwhelming feeling with an undefined problem, and things might get a little messy.
Zirous’ many years of infrastructure expertise and knowledge of cloud migration practices provides the best prescriptive guidance possible. The cloud strategy from our Catalyst process takes into consideration the pros and cons of each tool with the long term goals of our clients to prevent being backed into a corner and gaining more technical debt from the wrong tool choice.
Scalability allows for resources to be able to meet demand. Auto-scaling can be set up for new resources to spin up when there is higher demand and resources to spin down when resources are not being used. This practice allows for better user experience (lower wait times for customers) and cost efficiency (only paying for what is used). The challenge is that traditional on-premises architecture doesn’t scale as well in the cloud. Applications may not need to be replicated in full, meaning the database is overloaded but the application servers are handling the workload just fine. If the full stack was replicated fully, then the additional application servers would not be necessary. Architecting for the cloud is a different animal.
Zirous has many certified employees in all the major cloud service providers: Azure, AWS, and Oracle OCI. This cumulative knowledge allows Zirous to provide expert architecture recommendations. Recommendations take into consideration the past demand and future predictions so that the architecture can grow as the company continues to grow.
One of the biggest differences with cloud is the switch from capital expenditures (CapEx) to operational expenses (OpEx). Capital expenditures include buying expensive servers often with long procurement processes based on predicted uses. If demand outpaced the predicted usage, companies would have to procure more (expensive) servers and would have to wait for the servers to arrive, which may result in lost revenue from lost customers. Cloud billing changes that with a monthly bill for services utilized. If demand outpaced the predicted usage, servers could be quickly scaled to meet that demand, without losing customers. More money in, less money out sounds like a no brainer. What doesn’t get mentioned is the transition from on-premises to the cloud. For most companies, they still incurred the cost of the current infrastructure. Transitioning to the cloud does not eliminate those expenses immediately and subsequently incurs costs to pay for cloud services.
There are a lot of factors that go into the costs of transitioning to the cloud, including: migration strategy, current hardware, timeline, and so on. Lift and shift migration strategies, while beneficial to reducing maintenance efforts, often are comparable in cost to on-premises hosting. The value comes when workloads can be optimized with cloud tooling to reduce the overall footprint in the cloud and therefore reduce costs. Zirous’ Catalyst program gives a calculated estimate of services, cloud utilization, and even a strategy to remove the current infrastructure if necessary so that there is no sticker shock when the first bill arrives.
Overcoming the Challenges
Cloud migration is something every company could benefit from, but Zirous recognizes that it takes much more than moving workloads to an Azure or AWS environment to attain those benefits. Zirous is intentional about how we provide the best business value for your company as we pride ourselves as partners in your cloud journey as opposed to just another vendor setting up a product. We want to make sure your cloud strategy makes the most sense for your business. If you’re interested in learning more about the Zirous Cloud Adoption process and how you can benefit from the cloud, check out our new Cloud and Croissants z|Discover breakfast session. Don’t just take our word for it, check out this case study on how we successfully helped a state government agency to exit their on-premise datacenter and move to a cloud environment resulting in improved recovery times, increased security and reduced costs.