In this installment of our cloud blog series, we’ll discuss some of the ways that firms can leverage technologies of various cloud providers. This post intends to build on initial information from my previous post entitled What is “The Cloud.” If you have not yet seen that post, I urge you give it a read first to help better understand the terms used in this post.
There are many strategies of how to leverage cloud technologies and I’ll discuss two of the most common of these strategies. First, let’s start with an overview of these strategies and what they mean.
Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a term used for leveraging cloud technologies as a replacement for some or all the hardware used by a firm. Traditionally, this approach can only really replace on-premise server machines (users still need a device to connect to cloud infrastructure).
IaaS is one of the quicker and easier strategies for moving to and leveraging cloud technologies. This strategy involves merely designing and deploying the virtual devices and connections to provide connectivity, compute power, and storage in the cloud. Migration costs and cutover time are relatively low, and the business disruption can be minimal. The standard pattern is to recreate the on-premise infrastructure design on virtual cloud-based devices (and modernizing wherever applicable).
Immediate benefits include moderate to extreme performance increases, and the ability to quickly upgrade the operating systems. Primarily, it is similar to replacing all of your server hardware with brand new machines without the massive purchase costs commonly associated with such a project.
Ongoing benefits of this model are that firms must no longer plan and budget for replacements. Remember that top-tier cloud providers usually keep the top-tier hardware in their data centers. Your monthly leasing costs already include these updates to new equipment as it becomes viable and available!
Software as a Service
Software as a service (SaaS) is a term used to refer to a software licensing and delivery model where software is licensed via a subscription and is centrally hosted. There are two different approaches to accomplishing this, each having their benefits which we will consider.
Containerization is a term used to refer to wrapping software, and the server they run on into a “Container Image.” A container image is a file that can be deployed either to existing physical or virtual servers or more modern computing cluster designs. The process allows software to quickly scale up and down based on various conditions such as workload and or schedules.
The primary benefit of this approach is that a business can leverage the scalability of cloud computing platforms. Containerization further increases a business’s ability to implement the best combination of cloud assets (such as compute and storage). Where IaaS allows you to lease servers as necessary, containerization (a form of SaaS) allows the business to rent the individual components only as needed.
Containerization requires specialty planning and accommodations for designing and testing the migration, which will take longer than general virtualization. However, there are far fewer resources to continue leasing so it will be much cheaper over the long run.
DevOps Based Modernization
DevOps based modernization is a term we use that refers to implementing newly built customized solutions geared directly towards the business. This path is debatably the most advantageous of strategies when moving to the cloud for many reasons. It involves the highest cost and time initially, as it requires in-depth consulting and understanding of the business and best practices of the industry as well as new development to create systems that empower these practices.
When business operations and software operations become aligned with each other, a company achieves DevOps based modernization. New efficiencies may change business operations. The specially designed software helps meet these needs. This combination creates the most capable systems. Over time it also mitigates nearly all complications that undoubtedly arise from historic software systems and practices.
Many firms continuously fight their technologies, not because the technology is wrong but because it doesn’t align well with the workflows and operations of the business that employs it. This is very common when selecting software off the shelf. A firm must always make tradeoffs based on the capabilities of the selected software. In a DevOps modernization approach, there are no tradeoffs! The software supports the needs and operations!
The DevOps based modernization strategy is the most effective over time regarding cost, efficiency, and profitability. DevOps is the most effective for leveraging cloud technologies because it leverages the cloud technology in the most effective way. In doing so, DevOps provides the lowest cost over time and highest productivity (spend less make more!).
Talk to Your IT Professional
Every business is different, and the needs of each can vary. It’s always best to consult with an experienced cloud migration specialist to determine the most effective strategy for the business!