The question may arise as to whether it is truly necessary for us to explain the benefits of migrating to the public cloud. The simple answer is yes. Despite the significant resources being devoted to public cloud migration by many organizations(1), many others are still relying on outdated systems to manage their operations. Reasons for delaying the transition to the public cloud may include poor timing, competing projects, or the belief that things are “good enough” on the current systems. However, it is no longer sufficient to simply maintain the status quo. The migration to the public cloud is not only essential but also a chance for companies to become more adaptable and ready for the challenges ahead in an ever-evolving economy.
The benefits of the public cloud
As a digital organization, it is crucial to ensure the longevity of your business and continue to meet your goals in the next 5 years. One way to do this is to constantly improve and innovate your differentiating application(s) for customers, as it is often the reason for your organization’s existence. This requires a variety of actions to ensure the success of your business in the future.
A bold statement can be made that without any involvement of the public cloud in these actions, it will be difficult to maintain customer satisfaction, profitability, and competitiveness in the next 5 years. Here’s why:
For the sake of simplicity, imagine that your organization has one unique application that sets it apart from competitors and serves your customers. As it is tailored to your specific business processes, it is, by definition, a custom-built application. Leveraging the public cloud for this scenario should be a no-brainer for the following reasons:
The public cloud offers a range of benefits for organizations looking to scale their operations. It allows for global and regional scaling without compromising on user experience (think latency). It offers easy horizontal scaling, which can be difficult and costly to achieve on-premises or in a private cloud. It can also handle peak usage times, only charging for the resources used at that time, unlike on-premises or private cloud infrastructure which requires an investment in resources to handle peak loads and may result in inefficiency and high costs the rest of the time.
Additionally, it allows for the automated creation of a sandbox environment for testing a new and complex feature. This environment typically has the same lifetime as the pending pull request for that given feature. This allows your organization to experiment with new services and features, and quickly adapt to changing business requirements. The public cloud is also your perfect partner to support your release strategy, be it canary, blue/green, or something else. Furthermore, Azure, as an example of a public cloud platform, provides access to cutting-edge technologies such as IoT and API management that can help your organization to stay ahead of the curve.
Maintaining the status quo is no longer sufficient
Consider an application that is hosted on-premises or in your private cloud and has the following physical setup:
- Front-end components and back-end components are hosted on server 1
- Identity and Access Management solution (IdentityServer for example) is hosted on server 2
- SQL Server is hosted on server 3
- Scheduled custom batch jobs, a queueing product (RabbitMQ for example), and a queue consumer are hosted on server 4
- Server 5 acts as an SMTP server
Regarding the required (non-)functionals, we do not need any of the “no-brainer for using the public cloud” functionalities mentioned earlier. Only vertical scaling is required and we assume that there will be a more or less constant load, 24/7. Next to that, your infrastructure team knows how to install, monitor, and maintain all the required servers. Finally, the application development team has just enough IIS/nginx knowledge to deploy, configure and run the application.
In this scenario, will it be impossible to go to the market faster than our competition? Not really, embracing Agile, DevOps, and automation principles can be done without using the public cloud. You could use Azure DevOps Server running on yet another physical server with self-hosted agents for example.
Why would you, even in this scenario, be better off leveraging the public cloud? The answer is simple: to be prepared for future growth. As the application and customer base grow, there will likely be a limit to the amount of vertical scaling that can be done. Reaching that limit will most certainly cause problems and hinder growth. If you don’t leverage the public cloud in this scenario, you are basically stating that this application is at its peak in terms of making your customers happy. So in other words, this application will not contribute to business growth in the coming years and is by definition not a differentiating application. For non-differentiating applications, it can be perfectly fine to keep things as they are and thus not embracing the public cloud.
Optimizing costs: The benefits of using PaaS over IaaS
It’s important to have a clear understanding of the monthly running costs for any application, including non-differentiating ones. This includes measuring costs for infrastructure, licenses, and maintenance, as well as the time spent on these tasks. To optimize costs, it’s beneficial to explore the cost of running the same logic on Platform as a Service (PaaS) components, rather than Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). From a cost optimization perspective, IaaS can only be a temporary solution, PaaS should be the goal. If IaaS is your final destination, the running costs will not be lower than what you are already paying today.
It’s not always smooth sailing
It’s acknowledged that migrating to the public cloud can be a complex and not always a straightforward process. While the benefits of migration may be crystal clear, there may be challenges and opposition that arise during the process. Let’s take a closer look at a few obstacles you may encounter along the way.
“We need an integration with an application that is only available on-premises or in our private cloud.”
At first glance, this may seem like a valid concern as it is less optimal to introduce an extra hop over the public cloud to connect a cloud-based application to an on-premises application. However, it’s worth exploring alternative solutions such as examining if there are SaaS alternatives for the on-premises application. Maybe this is a custom-built application that could also be considered for migration to the public cloud? Additionally, this impediment could be an opportunity to introduce a hybrid cloud scenario.
“We already invested a huge amount of money in our on-premises or private cloud infrastructure.”
This is a perfect example of the sunk cost fallacy. It’s like choosing to finish a boring movie because you already paid for the ticket. With the sunk cost fallacy, loss aversion makes us stick with poor investments because we don’t want to feel bad about losing. This thinking is a pitfall because it ignores the potential future benefits and cost savings that can be achieved by migrating to the public cloud. To overcome this pitfall, organizations can consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the current and future infrastructure, including the cost of maintaining and updating the current infrastructure, as well as the potential cost savings and benefits of migrating to the public cloud.
“What about our infrastructure team?”
When your digital organization moves its infrastructure to the public cloud, upgrading your infrastructure team from a “keeping the lights on” team to a “supporting core business functions” team can bring significant benefits in terms of creating business value. One of the main benefits is the ability for the team to focus on delivering solutions that directly support the business objectives. By working closely with the business teams and understanding their requirements, the infrastructure team can help develop solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of your business. This also helps to increase agility and innovation.
Let’s partner up
Before embarking on the journey of migrating to the public cloud, it is important to prioritize certain steps. First, gain support from the top-level executives of your organization. It is vital that the leaders of your company understand the objective of moving to the public cloud and the advantages it offers. Secondly, ensure that this vision is clearly communicated throughout the rest of your organization, as true digital transformation is more smoothly achieved when all teams are in alignment with company goals. Lastly, seek out a reliable partner to assist in the cloud migration process.
We are Zure. We are eager to know your organization’s business goals, your drivers, and the reason of your existence. We want to understand your business processes and your differentiators. We want to speak your language. We want to know what your plan is to still be relevant and competitive 5 years from now.
Having all this information, we can support you better in achieving your business goals. Let us be your cloud journey guide, we can give you accurate insights on the costs of your differentiating application if it would be running on Azure PaaS components. Having the AS IS knowledge of your IT landscape, we can better rearchitect your applications towards a cloud-native architecture.
Let’s craft your innovative business application together, bringing your customer happiness to the next level and blowing your competitors out of the water. UX, application design, and development are our bread and butter and your organization can benefit from it.
We can apply all our lessons learned during this journey so that not only your technical processes can further mature, but your methodology and human interaction processes will also benefit from it. We want to grow with you, together.
Read more about our Services and let’s do amazing things, together!