Let’s talk about clouds and analytics. I know there are thousands of blog posts and articles written how you can use the power of the cloud to boost your analytics, and the best deployment models out there. Most of them I read, though, use really technical language and don’t really settle on a bottom line.
There are many definitions of cloud: on-premises, public, private, hybrid—with ever-changing variations on each of those terms, according to the particular cloud service provider. How can you know what’s best for you? It’s simple. What’s right for you is the configuration that lets you worry the least, while getting the best business outcomes.
What’s Out There
On-premises clouds offer the ultimate in security and control. You have to provide the footprint, the physical hardware, security, and IT resources to manage the entire infrastructure. With public clouds, you don’t have to provide the hardware, but you still have to provide resources to manage the process, and there’s the issue of sharing space and possible outages.
Private clouds are dedicated to you, but they’re hosted on a cloud provider’s infrastructure. However, you still have to have a cadre of resources to interact with the cloud provider and manage the process overall. Private clouds are secure, to be sure, but they’re also limiting in that you still need time and planning to ramp up or down.
Managed cloud models are those in which resources at a cloud service provider fully manage your cloud environment and analytics infrastructure. The cloud utilized can either be public or private, or a combination thereof. Managed clouds are great for those companies that don’t have the resources to implement or manage the large data sets and the concomitant infrastructure it takes to perform deep, complex analytics.
Hybrid clouds offer the ultimate combination of all the types I’ve discussed above. With a hybrid model, you can combine managed or self-controlled, on-premises, private, and public cloud deployments in any combination, depending on your needs. You can orchestrate them to work together to meet on-demand data and analytics requirements. This creates a borderless environment that enables you to focus on your analytics without having to worry about where the data you’re accessing resides. You can ramp up or down at will, with minimal or no disruptions. The resources needed on your part are minimal, but more than with managed clouds.
Getting the Right Cloud for Your Business
This sounds simplistic, but the right cloud configuration for you is the one that helps you meet your needs. Not those of your cloud provider, your competition, or anyone else. However, there are certain requirements that any cloud deployment should meet. These are not so much technical requirements as business outcomes—and they should be met regardless of which configuration you choose.
- Deployment flexibility. Users should have access to the data and analytics capabilities they need, when they need it, and IT resource requirements should fit your level of expertise and desire.
- Workload optimization. Whatever the size of your data set, the cloud infrastructure and management plan you choose should optimize the storage of, and access to, that data. Access should be seamless and transparent to users. In other words, data access should be lightning quick, and users shouldn’t notice a difference in accessing data, based on where that data resides.
- Customization based on needs. You need to have the level of control that your resources permit, or that your security needs require. If you want complete control of the infrastructure, security, and management, your choice will be different from that of a company that wants to focus solely on utilization for analytics and is willing to cede control to the cloud provider. Don’t let anyone tell you what you need. You drive the process.
- The right investment model. Your desire for control and resource allocation will also determine your investment model. If you want to focus solely on analyzing your data, the cloud-as-a service model is right for you. If you don’t want to cede control at all, the on-premise or private cloud is the way to go. If you want flexibility, a hybrid model is your choice. It’s your choice, not the vendor’s.
The bottom line is this: the right choice for you is the one that will best achieve your desired business outcomes, and that’s within your human and monetary resource budget. That’s all that matters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.