3 Signs It’s Time to Move off the Cloud
If you’re curious about cloud infrastructure, you may have read the series of blog posts by David Heinemeier Hansson that have been circulating about moving hey.com and Basecamp off the cloud. Maybe you agree with their decision, or maybe you would make a different one if you were them. Still, the savings they claim to have realized as a result of the move are quite real. Enormous cloud spend is a reality for many companies, and it’s a ripe area for investigating and questioning standard practice.
Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that there are very good reasons why a huge and growing portion of the world’s computing workloads run in the cloud. Traditional public infrastructure works very well for a lot of organizations and will continue to do so. The decision to move a workload off a public cloud platform is not one to be taken lightly. There’s never just one reason to do so, and each scenario should be evaluated on its own merits.
With that out of the way, let’s dig into some of the signs that there may be an alternative to public cloud that better suits your particular workload.
Three Main Signs
A move when you’re in the middle of a contract doesn’t make much sense, in most cases. If the cost difference is so large that the benefits of moving off a cloud would outweigh the sunk costs of your contract, moving is worth a serious consideration. It’s similar to breaking a mortgage early to take advantage of a more favorable rate.
Near the end of a contract is definitely a good time to reflect on the cost and performance of the cloud services you’ve been using. You’ll need to calculate how much time and money other options might save you.
This part is tough to predict, but cloud providers do and will continue to pull features they decide aren’t worth the resources it takes to provide. If you’re relying on a service that’s been marked as deprecated, this is a good opportunity to explore other options.
Keeping your cloud bill low is notoriously difficult. Some organizations even have personnel dedicated solely to monitoring these expenses. An entire new class of vendors and consultants has emerged to help companies manage and negotiate their cloud costs.
Between idle, underutilized and overprovisioned resources and a lack of visibility into billing details, it’s easy for a monthly cloud bill to balloon frighteningly.
By far the most common complaint I’ve heard is about cloud data egress charges. Cloud providers typically charge for both data transfers (how much data is being moved) and for accessing data they store. They can also charge for moving data from region to region and even between different availability zones in the same region. Network connectivity for on-premises solutions typically has a fixed cost. It’s also relatively simple to restructure an application to pull data from a new network source, making this a good first step to explore.
The Cost of Not Moving
Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario to illustrate the third sign combined with the first two.
Say you’re in the middle of a three-year contract and you expect to store and access a certain amount of data over that period. You use that figure to build your business projections. But then the business takes off, which is great, but you have a problem. Instead of the 50 terabytes of data you figured you would maybe hit at the end of the three years, you are quickly approaching 150TB — and you aren’t even halfway through the term. In fact, you are on track to double the current volume in the next year.
You do the math, and between cloud storage, data access and data egress, your infrastructure costs are far higher than you expected.
In this case, the cost of not moving far outweighs the cost of keeping things where they are, even if you leave some of your contract on the table.
In today’s economic climate, where businesses face increasing pressure to control costs and manage margins, the decision to re-evaluate your current cloud infrastructure should not be taken lightly. Timing, cost overruns and the potential cost of inaction are all crucial factors to consider when evaluating your cloud strategy. Each situation is unique, and a thoughtful analysis of your circumstances and objectives is essential in determining whether it’s time to explore alternatives. Ultimately, embracing flexibility in your cloud approach can lead to cost savings and improved business resilience in the face of evolving demands.