Over the past couple of years, conversations that were once about “the cloud” have shifted to conversations about multicloud. As IT departments moved their enterprise applications to the cloud, they discovered that different applications and workloads often need very different cloud environments: maybe several Software as a Service providers, or a hyperscale public cloud and a managed cloud services provider, a handful of edge data centers, or a hosted private cloud. CIOs and their IT teams are now dealing with how to manage these multiple cloud environments.
“Every workload has a unique home. A cloud-native application that’s built on a multi-tenancy model is likely best in a public cloud, but a traditional ERP system might not be.”
– Dan Hodge, Dell Technologies Vice President of Channel Presales
There are many factors to consider in workload placement, noted Hodge, including the expected lifespan of the workload. “If it’s going to exist for more than three years, and it’s a critical application for your business, then it may make sense to run it in a private cloud where you can control the infrastructure and operations.”
Hodge spoke on the growth of multicloud at BraveIT 2020, TierPoint’s virtual IT conference held September 16 and 17. In the session Empowering Businesses to Thrive in a Multicloud World, Dan Hodge and Alvaro Gonzalez, TierPoint’s assistant vice president of channel sales, discussed the major forces driving businesses to multicloud environments and key issues in cloud workload placement. Here are a few highlights from that dialog:
The main cloud adoption challenges
Gonzalez: At TierPoint, we’ve identified three main business concerns or challenges that influence how customers invest in cloud technologies. Those are speed, cost, and complexity. There’s the speed of change in business markets and in technology. There’s the cost of adopting, or failing to adopt, a new technology, and there’s the complexity of technologies and IT solutions that make it tough for a customer to know how to work with the technology. How should technology providers, like Dell and TierPoint, help their customers deal with these problems of speed, cost, and complexity?
Hodge: Speed is what drove a lot of folks to the public cloud, especially to hyperscale providers like Google and Amazon. If you wanted to light up a thousand virtual machines tomorrow, you can do that in a hyperscale environment. However, people are now realizing that there are hidden costs associated with the public cloud. For instance, storage can cost more in the public cloud. Costs are driving some organizations to move workloads out of the public cloud and into private clouds. Finally, the complexity of new technologies is increasing our need to offer simpler solutions.
Also read: 9 Reasons Businesses Choose Cloud Computing
Moving out of the public cloud
Gonzalez: In the early days of the cloud, everyone tended to assume all workloads should be in a public cloud. But now more customers are moving workloads into other environments. What factors are driving some workloads out of the public cloud? You mentioned costs earlier. What else?
Hodge: At Dell, we follow three laws of workload placement. There’s the law of physics. What are the demands or requirements of the application? Can that application work remotely or does it need to be on-premises. There’s the law of economics. What are the cost factors of a workload or series of workloads? We have calculators to show people what those models look like across diff spaces. You can calculate what it would cost to run workloads in-house or at a third-party data center like TierPoint or on top of a hyperscale public cloud.
Last one is the law of the land. That includes many different things, like GDPR which is a big driver for IT change for European and many American companies. In the U.S. there are state laws in the works dealing with data sovereignty and data locality. There are different issues in vertical industries like healthcare and manufacturing. A data security law may have different implications on where you can put the data. Can you put that into a public cloud if you’re following GDPR or HIPAA? You need to look at all of those things together to make a good decision.
Managing cloud applications and workloads
Gonzalez: When you talk about workload and application management, you often refer to “robots and welders.” What’s that about?
Hodge: Robots and welders is an analogy for workload placement and management. Typically, 80% of the workloads in a customer’s environment are simple applications that require compute resources but not a lot of storage. Those common, simple workloads can be turned over to automation–let the robots take control of them. These automated apps that require compute power but not much storage often do well in the public cloud. The other 20% of the workloads are data-driven, business critical applications like ERP or analysis applications. These data-driven, complex workloads need a lot of storage and can’t be automated. They require an expert to manage them, like a DBA, a SAP Basis admin, or a data scientist. We call those people the welders. These complex workloads are better suited for a private cloud.
A 2025 cloud prediction
Gonzalez: Given how rapidly technology changes, what do you imagine we’ll be talking about five years from now at BraveIT 2025?
Hodge: I don’t think there will be significant differences in how things work. We’ll always need computing, memory, storage, and networking resources. But how businesses look at IT and how they use it will change dramatically. Right now, IT is viewed as complicated, a necessary evil. But over time we will automate more data center technologies, add more self-provisioning, and simplify them for business users. That’s where we can be most successful in the future and it’s one of the things we’re doing with TierPoint, building a platform with a software stack and operating model to simplify the transactional mode.
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