If there’s anything in the business world that can be called the “new normal,” it’s the prevalence of working from home. The irony for many businesses, however, is that the IT infrastructure that makes it possible for all those employees to remotely log into the company network every day so they can access their emails, retrieve important files and hold online meetings is still languishing at the office.
On-premises IT infrastructure is a major capital investment with complex architecture that requires frequent and expensive maintenance performed by experts to ensure it remains scalable as your needs grow—especially with all that additional traffic from so many remote workers—and safe from both cyber threats and physical threats, like overheating and power outages. Furthermore, because of the rise—and success—of working from home, many organizations are re-evaluating their real estate holdings, wondering if they really need all the space they have, and whether they can make up for what they decide to let go of by repurposing their server rooms.
Digitally transform your IT infrastructure, digitally transform your business
By moving your server functionalities into the cloud so your applications and other workloads are available to you over the internet for a monthly fee, you can potentially eliminate the need for IT infrastructure hardware altogether, offloading many of your safety concerns and doing away with the associated unpredictable expenses in favour of predictable operational costs that are lower in the long term.
However, accomplishing this digital transformation is easier said than done. Many businesses have made the mistake of only adopting public cloud services, which allow you to use cloud computing resources over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. This makes it easy to spin up virtual servers when needed. But with a pay-as-you-go model, your monthly payments can be all over the place, and this cost uncertainty is exacerbated when those virtual servers are forgotten about after they’re used because don’t just disappear; you’re going to keep paying for them whether you’re using them or not. This phenomenon is called cloud sprawl.
Fly above the fog of cloud computing
To avoid this pitfall, you should first be familiar with alternative cloud deployment models, namely private cloud and virtual private cloud (VPC), both of which are dedicated cloud computing environments that offer more control and more predictable billing than public clouds, making it inherently easier to keep track of your cloud usage.
Private cloud refers to cloud infrastructure that is 100% dedicated to your business, meaning the entire environment is configured and managed according your specifications and no one else’s. VPC, on the other hand, allows you to reserve an isolated environment within a public cloud. The private cloud model offers the highest level of control and is cost-effective for businesses with predictable needs. VPC allows you pay for the resources you reserve rather than what you use, making it more cost-effective for businesses that have unpredictable needs.
The right provider is your silver lining
However, having a private cloud or VPC environment isn’t the only factor in avoiding cloud sprawl. So-called “private cloud sprawl” can happen, especially in larger enterprises, so to truly be in the clear, you need to identify your current cloud services, stay on top of how many cloud workloads you have at any given time, figure out your anticipated cloud spend, and finally optimize your usage.
Simple, right? If it were, every business would have a successful cloud strategy. Of course, many have no strategy at all, and that’s because they don’t have the in-house expertise for it. To avoid cloud sprawl, or to simply make sure your cloud services are actually benefiting your business, you need not just a cloud expert, but an overall IT infrastructure expert who can analyze your business’s needs and come up with the right mix of infrastructure options to optimize your operations as cost-effectively and securely as possible.
While one workload is best suited for a private cloud environment, others may be more conveniently performed in a public cloud. While one business can feasibly do away with physical servers entirely, another may have proprietary applications that are best kept in the office or in a third-party data centre for added security, (also known as colocation). This mix of cloud deployment models and potentially non-cloud infrastructure options is often referred to as a hybrid cloud strategy, and it’s the best strategy to ensure your IT infrastructure works for your business, not against it.
The moral of the story is to find a provider that will not only offer you all the cloud and non-cloud infrastructure options you may need, but who can assess your business’s needs, advise you on the right mix of solutions that will work best, and help execute on the strategy, including migration, configuration, monitoring, reporting and more.