How to Get More Out of the Cloud for Less
If you’re thinking of moving to the cloud, the first thing you should ask yourself is “What are the benefits of the cloud to my organization?” Why should you, for instance, move to Microsoft Azure? The answer is threefold:
- Speed: Procuring and provisioning servers is done rapidly in the cloud. Your reduced “time to develop” and “time to market” means your IT can be much more agile in servicing the needs of the business units or developers.
- Scale: The cloud gives you an almost infinite set of computing resources. Your applications will enjoy massive global scale, and can easily scale up or down depending on the demand. You use just enough resources for your needs—nothing more, nothing less.
- Economics: You pay for only what you use in the cloud. This will save you money on apps that have variable computing needs.
The beauty of the cloud lies not only in its scalability, but its flexibility. You can choose how little or how much you want to manage. For instance, the Software as a Service (Saas) model allows the third-party provider to host and manage applications in the cloud, thereby freeing up your organization’s resources from daily upkeep.
In the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, developers gain a framework where they can customize applications. With PaaS, the provider can manage the virtualization, servers, storage and networking, while the developers can manage the applications.
Lastly, in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model, the third-party provider hosts virtualized resources like hardware, software, servers, storage, networking, networking services (e.g. firewalls) and other infrastructure to deliver on-demand. You can choose to connect the “datacenter” you build in the cloud to your on-premises datacenter so that the datacenter in the cloud becomes an extension of your on-premises infrastructure.
Before you move to the cloud, there are few things you should keep in mind that go against everything you have learned when architecting on-premises solutions. Keeping an open mind will let you get more for your money when moving to the cloud.
Peak Load Time
The first thing you do when you design an on-premises or hosted solution is figure out the peak load. Next, you purchase hardware that can handle that plus “X” percent. You need to overprovision, because not being able to meet the peak demand or future growth means that you will need to spend more on new hardware.
Should you do this in the cloud? The short answer is no. It is not unusual for on-premises applications to utilize less than 20% of system resources. The cloud gives you the flexibility to scale on-demand. This means you only pay for what you need right now, and within minutes you can scale vertically or horizontally. You can save a lot of money by keeping the utilization of you system resources high, and scale up on-demand or automatically when needed.
Pay By-the-Minute or By-the-Hour
The second thing to keep in mind is that you will only pay for what you use in the cloud, by the minute with Azure and by the hour with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Do you have workloads that only happen at a specific time of the day, month or year? Think about only running the servers when needed. If no one is using your application from 6pm to 6am, shut down the server. If that is not an option, scale it down so that it only supports the reduced load experienced during those hours.
End of Life
The third thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft and Amazon update their hardware and add higher-end offerings year over year while continuing to drop prices. This means you will continue to get more for less and you will never have to worry about your hardware reaching end of life.
Remember, the cloud is for everybody, but not for everything. You will get the most out of the cloud when you define your business and IT needs and adopt solutions that integrate with your strategy and on-premises environment.
If you want to learn more about moving to the cloud, contact SWC and ask if you are a candidate for a Microsoft-funded Azure one-day assessment.
If you would like to read some of SWC’s additional blog posts on Microsoft Azure and the cloud, please check out the links below:
Creating an Azure Environment On-Premises with Windows Azure Pack
Preparing for Server 2003 End of Life by Migrating to Microsoft Azure
Deployments and Rollbacks in Azure
How Microsoft Azure Can Reduce Help Desk Calls and Increase Security
How to Move a Hyper-V Virtual Machine into Microsoft Azure Using System Center
Performance and Schedule Autoscaling in Microsoft Azure
Flexible and Scalable Web Hosting with Microsoft Azure
How Can Office 365 Help My Organization?
Microsoft RemoteApp: Your Apps in the Cloud
Five Questions to Ask Before Investing in a Cloud Service
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