The use of cloud computing has exploded in recent history, and so has the rate of cloud repatriation – taking systems off the cloud. More and more companies are putting their computer systems back onto private hardware on-premises or in colocation, and all of the reasons also apply to why companies might want to avoid the cloud. So why are so many companies repatriating, and should you be doing the same?
Cloud Repatriation-The process of transitioning IT systems and applications off of public cloud platforms back to privately managed infrastructure.
Some Repatriation Stats
Businesses going from the cloud back to privately-run systems is not a rare event. The International Data Corporation (IDC) found 80% of public cloud customers were performing at least some repatriation in 2018, with that expecting to rise in 2019.
In the same report, the IDC estimated that in 2018/2019, those planning repatriation would have repatriated 50% of their public cloud applications.
Reasons for Repatriation
Every company and their IT system is different, with their own set of priorities and requirements, so the motivations behind repatriation will be specific to each company. However, we’ve explored the broad reasons for repatriation, and what advantages can be found through restoring back to a privately managed system.
80% of cyber attacks target small to medium businesses, and cyber security has never been more critical. A lot of companies feel more comfortable when they’ve got complete control over the security in place on their systems, something you can’t do when your public cloud provider is managing the cyber security.
There are also legal compliance issues. Under GDPR, the company storing data is responsible for its protection and can be fined if they fail to protect this data from attackers. Watchdog organisations have started issuing severe fines for a GDPR breach; recently the Information Commissioner’s Office slapped British Airways with an eye-watering £183 Million fine after hackers successfully stole 500,000 people’s personal details. Companies literally can’t afford lax security.
Related to security, HSCN – the NHS network – requires you to encrypt Patient Identifiable Data using UK sovereign data centres- something a non-transparent public cloud provider might prevent you from doing. So if you want to work with the NHS in the future, you will need to repatriate.
So, if you’re in charge of a company’s cyber security, it’s understandable why you would be very careful as to who is handling it.
There is a long list of direct and indirect costs attached to public cloud and privately run systems, making this a very complex issue, and the two options are not easily comparable.
Thankfully the Active Archive Alliance has worked out an estimated cost of storing data, which won’t be spot-on for most businesses but will give you a useful guide. They estimate the annual cost of storing one petabyte of archival data is:
- $3.5m on a flash storage system
- $2.6m on NAS box
- $1.5m on Amazon S3
- Only $107k on privately managed tape
Companies could save a lot of money if they transfer non-critical data to secondary or tertiary storage platforms. This data being readily-available on a public cloud platform when it isn’t necessary could be a result of poor management, or a long-term contract might have ‘locked-in’ a business, forcing them to keep data stored inefficiently. Either way, there are significant costs if you’ve not optimised your data stored on the cloud.
An IT system’s ability to work is key, and hosting in the cloud can sometimes lead to slow or inefficient services. Also, companies can sometimes struggle to access the most vital parts of their infrastructure when so much is hosted on the cloud.
According to the IDC, 14% of people repatriating are doing so for performance reasons, making it the second-highest cause. Companies needing instant connections to their system will get much higher speeds on privately hosted infrastructure. You also have greater control over how many resources are dedicated to each application.
And HPC in a cloud environment is currently considered unreliable by a lot of people, so if your system matures to a state where you need to deploy HPC, you might have to repatriate to a private set up.
The advantages of cloud
Despite all of this repatriation activity and the reasons behind it, the number of companies using the cloud is still steadily rising, with over 90% of businesses having some of their system hosted on a public cloud.
Public cloud still has a very valuable, and good-value, role to play within the IT industry, particularly for smaller companies.
Benefits of public cloud:
- Pay for what you use – If the demand on your system is constantly fluctuating, a public cloud solution can save you from having to invest in hardware which isn’t always in use.
- Standard cyber security – If your system is in dire need of a security upgrade, then moving to a public cloud will be a quick and cost-effective way of increasing security.
- Reliability – This only applies if your system is in-house, but data centres will have redundancies to prevent your system going down. Public cloud is a way for small companies to have their system stored in a data centre.
Companies just need to be aware of how they are using their public cloud. If they are using it inefficiently, it might well become an unnecessary expense, or it might not be meeting their specific requirements.
The future of cloud
Thankfully, when it comes to cloud computing, you don’t have to adopt an all-or-nothing approach. You can have the best of both public cloud and privately managed infrastructure by using the benefits of hybrid cloud.
Having your system on privately managed infrastructure allows you to have a bespoke system perfectly suited to your needs. Usually, you would be restricted by the capacity of your hardware and would need to invest heavily to expand your system. But by having your system ‘overflow’ into a public cloud when demand is particularly high, you eliminate that restriction.
Since public cloud doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and people are becoming savvier about cloud deployment, hybrid cloud has to be adopted by more and more companies.
Which cloud computing solution is best for my company?
Whether your IT system is managed in-house, on a public or private cloud, or with a managed infrastructure provider, it might not be operating on the most efficient platform.
If you’re a small company, you need to consider if cloud is the right fit for you, or if you would benefit more from managed infrastructure. And if you’ve got a reasonably large IT system, then you probably want to look into hybrid cloud, and start designating what parts of your network can be put into the overflow.
Whatever you decide, or if you need some tailored advice, we at 4D can help you with your digital transformation journey. We offer a full suite of UK cloud hosting solutions, including custom-built private clouds, as well as providing managed infrastructure within our award-winning colocation data centres. Take a look at our services or get in touch for advice or a quote.