Cloud Strategies

Finding the Right Home for Cloud Apps

Finding the right place for your apps to live is like shopping for real estate, with choices between owning, renting and hybrid models.

Owning your own home is like owning your own data center. Alternately, a hotel lets you use as many rooms as you need without much of a commitment, which is like parking your applications in the public cloud. And hybrid clouds are somewhere in the middle.

Owning a data center and owning a home
Running your own data center is similar to owning your home. It takes a strong -- and expensive -- commitment, and it assumes that you will be staying at a location for a long time. You have total control and ultimate responsibility. The homeowner bears the burden for power, cooling, paint on the wall, smoke detectors and the lawn. You have the keys; you're in charge of who can come and go. For privacy, you don't share driveways or walls with your neighbors.

Likewise, owning and managing a data center introduces substantial liabilities and costs in security, power and cooling. Modern facilities require huge amounts of power to run effectively, and all of that power must be backed up with generators for emergency purposes. The data center needs a cooling system powerful enough to keep a giant room packed with hot machines at around 70º Fahrenheit. It also needs a top-notch physical security system with multiple cameras, biometric readers, and checkpoints. Data center management quickly becomes a very expensive business decision.

As a home owner, you must pay for insurance, taxes and mortgage and you have to update and maintain your house as it ages. All responsibilities fall to the homeowner, and it takes a lot of work to keep things operating smoothly.

Likewise, when you own a data center, upkeep, maintenance, taxes, insurance and the added liability of meeting compliance requirements to house customer data, common expenses add up to a significant portion of the bottom line. The trade-off for these liabilities is that you get ultimate control and privacy. You don't have to share network traffic, servers or storage resources with anyone, and you can make any changes you need, within reason.

Natural apps to live in your own data center, in your own home, are those subject to regulatory compliance (e.g., PCI, HIPPA, FISMA), legacy and back office apps, such as custom software, complex and custom websites, OSS workflow and legacy ERP applications. These apps require a lot of customization and have very specific security needs.

Dedicated server hosting and renting a home
When renting a home, you have much less liability. You still live with the security and privacy benefits of owning your own home, but the impact of maintenance and costs are someone else's responsibility, freeing up some of your capital to invest elsewhere. Renting a home is similar to hosting your website or app with a hosting provider specialist. You're not locked into a long-term commitment. Less responsibility means more flexibility, but it also adds concerns. For hosting, the consideration is whether your hosting provider has a solid and secure network and is offering exceptional service and 24/7/365 support.

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Applications subject to regulatory compliance (e.g., PCI, HIPPA, FISMA), custom applications, databases, big data apps and modern ERP applications are suited for a dedicated hosting platform that's essentially rented space. This is because you can define appropriate settings in a dedicated hosting environment and maintain control.

Hotels and hosting on the public cloud
The public cloud is analogous to hotel living. Here you have a multitude of transient tenants sharing a structure designed to split the cost of maintenance and upkeep to keep costs low.

Hotels, like the public cloud, offer as many rooms as you may need and are willing to pay for. Costs are shared and there is a convenience of having rooms on demand and on a nightly basis, which creates a much greater benefit for you.

Next Page: But What About Room Service?

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