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Clouds consist of tiny droplets of water or ice crystals—hydrogen and oxygen. The Earth is made up mainly of iron, oxygen, silicon and magnesium. You wouldn’t expect these different combinations of elements to act the same, nor should you assume that your Cloud servers will function exactly like your Earthed data center.
This misconception has led to a belief that performance in the Cloud is an issue. In fact, the 2017 SolarWinds IT Trends Index found that 13 percent of the surveyed IT professionals cited poor performance as the reason they repatriated their databases back to on-premises last year. This group is in the minority, however, because at the same time, 35 percent reported migrating their databases to the Cloud. I expect this trend will continue to grow as IT pros gain experience working with Cloud applications and servers.
What the 13 percent might not have known prior to making the move to the Cloud is that maximum performance can be ensured by knowing your baseline and right sizing the platform to meet those requirements.
Ease of the Cloud
Before getting into the “how” of the Cloud, let’s examine why. On top of the one-third that moved data, 95 percent of responding organizations have also migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure to the Cloud over the past year.
Data is the new oil. Enterprises need to leverage this commodity to serve modern workforces and meet the demands of a digital world. In addition, they must continue to look for ways to optimize IT functions. These factors are motivators for turning to Cloud solutions.
On the provider side, there’s a race to win that data and subsequently deliver a range of services needed to process, analyze and develop. AWS® has a slight lead at the moment, but Azure® has the overall edge because Microsoft® Office and Windows® are everywhere. For those existing customers, it’s a logical choice to continue using a familiar platform and Azure® makes that easy.
Both Amazon® and Microsoft® are driving Cloud advancements by making it easy to move to the Cloud through new services, cost economics, the promise of simplified management and reduced barriers to migration.
For example, Azure® and Verizon® will work together to implement “ExpressRoute”—a direct but local pipeline into Azure®. This increases bandwidth and speed and paves the way for turnkey development and application tools and solutions to process and analyze data.
Cost savings, efficiency gains, availability and scalability are huge drivers of the Cloud. And 59 percent of IT Trends Index respondents report their organizations have received either most or all of these expected benefits from Cloud technologies.
The cost of on-premises includes capital expenditures for servers, storage, and electricity and operational expenses such as buying licenses and maintenance upgrades. The Cloud will provide all these things as a service, and for a lower average price.
More specifically, the Cloud covers Data Management through database as a service, geo-replication and failovers. Administrative overhead is drastically reduced. Additional capacity and storage with automated backup can be provisioned within minutes to handle a load, which isn’t possible in an Earthed data center.
Threat detection in the Cloud includes automated, real-time monitoring for hacking, an application you’d have to write yourself or pay a third party for in an on-premises environment. Such protection would also require plenty of IT professionals who are specialists. Instead, they can be freed up and shifted to more strategic Data Analytics and Data Science projects.
Azure also already offers automatic tuning for databases enabling systems to heal themselves. Using Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics against the workloads, an index for a query can be built, rolled out to see if it works, and rolled back if not.
Barriers to Cloud
Despite these numerous benefits the Cloud still has its naysayers. Some are just slow to adopt, uninterested in change. Others deem the Cloud a security risk, but the platform is far more secure than their own data centers. Just go to the Azure® trust center and you’ll see a long list of certifications meeting all security requirements.
Privacy is also a misperceived issue. That’s laughable considering that people carry thumb drives with spreadsheets of critical data that can be easily misplaced or stolen.
No. 1 Tip: Baseline All the Things
Moving forward, the adoption of a Cloud-first mentality will accelerate, but to instill confidence in migration, providers will have to educate around perceived performance and privacy issues. Whereas to succeed in the Cloud, organizations should follow a few best practices.
First, as mentioned earlier, don’t fall prey to the misconception that the Cloud works the same as the Earthed data center. This is especially true if you lift and shift workloads, which typically does not meet performance expectations.
My number one tip for helping ensure performance is establishing a baseline and aligning with the capabilities of the platform. Also consider the cost, benefit and risk, and understand that with any tradeoff comes another advantage. Maybe you give up a little speed in favor of geo-replication, for example.
Size your database and workloads by looking at disk IO, memory, CPU and network. Once you understand your baseline performance and know your requirements, find the Cloud servers that match those needs. Yes, this might increase your cost a bit more, but the expense is nothing compared to having the same server capacity on-premises.