In recent years, companies have rushed to take advantage of the benefits of placing workloads in the public cloud. There are many factors driving this move, but in general, they are looking to expand processing and storage capabilities while controlling costs. Often, there is significant value to be gained from making the public cloud part of a platform mix. However, companies that thought they could and should rely heavily or even exclusively on the public cloud are increasingly reassessing that strategy.
In fact, as noted in our report titled “Data Centers in Flux: The IT Optimization Challenge,” which is based on a recent Datalink-commissioned IDG Research survey, nearly 40-percent of organizations with public cloud experience have moved cloud workloads back on premises. This concept of “unclouding” or “reverse migration” doesn’t mean that anyone is leaving the cloud completely. However, it is an indicator that companies must assess the requirements of each type of workload and place them on the platforms best suited for them or incur the time, effort, and cost of re-platforming later.
Why Organizations Are Pulling Back from the Public Cloud
According to our survey data and our experience working with our clients, there are five primary reasons that companies are bringing workloads back in-house. These serve as critical points to evaluate as you consider moving workloads to the public cloud.
- Security concerns (55-percent). With a number of major security breaches making news in recent years, it’s not surprising that companies are reassessing the security of their data – especially sensitive material. Given the potential risks associated with the cloud, it’s important to carefully consider the type of data that is kept there.
- Cost/pricing concerns (52-percent). The cost savings promised when cloud computing first came on the scene don’t always add up as hoped. One of the main reasons is that costs can be unpredictable. With most providers, you are billed for the resources you consume, including storage, but also CPU time, memory, and storage I/O. And different rates can apply to different times of day. While workloads that are prone to spikes can take advantage of cloud elasticity, heavy workloads and those that run consistently can accumulate higher costs. Being aware of these differences can help you operate more cost effectively.
- Manageability (45-percent). Manageability, or more accurately the loss of manageability, is a major concern for companies. This includes having little or no control over deployment, configuration, updates, performance management, and optimization (including sprawl, which can increase costs) at the cloud site.
- Reliability/performance issues (38-percent). Both IT and the business find it very frustrating and damaging to productivity when a cloud platform is not performing reliably or performance degrades and they are powerless to address the issue. This can occur when there is a lack of defined and enforceable service level agreements (SLAs) in place or when “neighbors” in the cloud environment consume excessive resources.
- Lack of flexibility or customization (38-percent). While on-premises infrastructure can be designed and deployed as it best suits a company’s needs, in the public cloud, there is very little ability to customize the platform to meet specific and unique business needs.
The Key Is Proper Workload Placement
The concerns that have people revising their cloud strategy don’t show any signs of slowing cloud adoption. In fact, the same IT executives who expressed these concerns in the survey also said that they envision their application workload in the public cloud increasing from 14-percent today to 23-percent in two years. Clearly what they’ll be doing between now and then is determining which workloads run best in the public cloud and positioning those there while putting other workloads on private cloud or other on-premises infrastructure.
Interested in learning more about the trends in IT operations and data center optimization? Check out the full IDG survey results.
If you need additional insights as you consider your workload/platform alignment decisions, we’re happy to help.