Cloud repatriation – the act of removing your workloads from the public cloud and onto private infrastructure – has become something of an industry trend, alongside the rise of Hybrid IT. But since cloud migration and the ‘cloud first’ approach were also trends not that long ago, it’s worth taking the time to consider that public cloud does have it's disadvantages and dissect whether cloud repatriation makes sense for your business before you leap on that train.
Let’s start by looking at some of the disadvantages of public cloud, and see whether they apply to you.
In various blogs, we’ve discussed the problem of budgeting with public cloud. With a ‘pay as you go’ payment model, the costs can be unpredictable, making it difficult for your accounts department to deal with. But more than that, as you increase your usage, the cost savings that come with public cloud – e.g. not having to pay for infrastructure – are rendered moot. A bit like when you take out a mobile phone contract that has the cost of the phone built in, but you can never pay off the cost of the phone. Investing in private infrastructure – whether that’s private cloud or your own hardware in a colocation centre – is a big outlay at the start. But the costs don’t have the same opportunity to spiral as they do with private cloud.
If you are finding the cost of public cloud hard to stomach, or even an obstacle to further growth, then there could be a good business case for cloud repatriation.
One of the biggest benefits of public cloud is that you don’t have to take responsibility for the hardware – that’s all taken care of. However, if you’re experiencing a problem with your public cloud provider, this lack of control can be frustrating.
Repairs and maintenance are out of your hands, and likewise you can’t take the opportunity to upgrade hardware as technology improves. All of those decisions will be made and scheduled by your cloud provider.
For businesses with little to no IT expertise on staff, this won’t be a problem.
But if you’re used to wielding control in all areas of your business, and if you are suffering as a result of decisions your cloud provider is making, you might like to take back control of your IT by moving your workloads to private infrastructure.
Security and compliance issues
With governments around the world tightening controls on data privacy, while cyberattack methods continue to grow more advanced, the security of your data is more important than ever. For some businesses, the fallout of a data breach or non-compliance is simply too great to entrust their security to the public cloud.
This is not to say that the public cloud is not well secured. It certainly can be. But within the confines of private infrastructure, it is easier to identify where your data is stored, how it is protected, and to spot the earliest indications of an attempted attack.
If you are working in an industry that prioritises data protection, such as healthcare or finance, repatriation may give you and your customers additional peace of mind over the security of personal data.
Latency and access
Any popular service is going to be busy, but when busyness translates into poor performance, public cloud users have a problem.
Even the best-performing public clouds could be beaten on speed by directly-networked infrastructure, which will offer little-to-no latency.
Ease of use should be a given – cloud is meant to be simple!
So if you are experiencing problems accessing files, that’s another reason to consider repatriation of at least some of your workloads. For example, after trying public cloud for a while, the advertising arm of France TV, France Télévisions Publicité, repatriated its contract information, client data and more, after finding it difficult to access business-critical archives in a timely manner.
In some cases, access difficulties may be caused by poor planning at the point at which you entered the public cloud. Adam Stringer, business resilience expert at PA Consulting, pointed to poor planning as a key reason for cloud repatriation when he told Computer Weekly, ‘If your data architecture is a mess and you move your data to the cloud, you just end up with a mess in the cloud… Architectural rigour is as important for cloud deployments as it is for on-prem. If they don’t get that right, businesses will end up having to repatriate parts of their estate.”
If you’ve inherited a cloud which is a mess, or it’s otherwise got away from you, then repatriation is an opportunity to get your data management under control.
Public cloud makes sense when it makes sense
All of this is not to say that public cloud isn’t a great tool for most businesses. It is. Public cloud gives you the freedom and flexibility to try new things without the heavy investment that private infrastructure requires. As Wang and Casado state in their renowned paper The Cost of Cloud, a Trillion Dollar Paradox, ‘You’re crazy if you don’t start in the cloud; you’re crazy if you stay on it’.
This advice doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone – really it depends how your business uses the cloud. But certainly, you’d be crazy to stay with an infrastructure approach that does not work for you.
Those businesses that prioritise a workload-first attitude to their infrastructure will build their strategy based on the principle of matching the right workloads with the right infrastructure – and in some cases that means pulling workloads off the public cloud and finding them a long-term home elsewhere.
If you need help designing a plan that works for your business, or you want to learn more about your cloud repatriation options, talk to our Hybrid IT experts who can help you find the right place for every workload.