“You’re crazy if you don’t start in the cloud; you’re crazy if you stay on it.”
– Sarah Wang and Martin Casado, general partners at Andreessen Horowitz (a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, California).
It is a raging debate. The business world is divided on this. Cloud computing has, no doubt, created powerful value propositions for global enterprises. Cloud-hosted digital environments offer unmatched scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiencies to future-facing organisations. However, despite its numerous benefits, certain difficult-to-ignore challenges have also emerged along the way. This has prompted many companies to explore cloud repatriation strategies to optimise their business operations. But what is cloud repatriation? And, what makes it worth our while?
Simply put, repatriation is the process of moving data and applications from a public cloud back to an organisation’s on-premises data centre, private cloud, or to its hosting service provider. But it is not a simple process. Given that the ultimate objective is to identify and implement the most optimised architecture that effectively supports our business needs and objectives, it just may work better for some businesses, in some instances.
Why we need to reclaim cloud mastery: Repatriation as an optimisation strategy
For many enterprises, the bevy of challenges associated with leveraging public cloud may outpace its perceived benefits. Enterprises are clearly concerned about multiple factors associated with cloud usage including their:
• Budgetary outlays: Cloud services can be expensive if not managed efficiently. As per the Flexera 2023 State of the Cloud Report, a staggering 82% of enterprises identify the management of cloud expenses as their primary challenge. Managing cloud costs effectively becomes complicated due to factors such as storage costs, underutilised resource cost due to infrastructure sprawls, regulatory compliance, and data transfer expenses etc.
• Cloud security vulnerabilities: 79% of businesses harbour apprehensions about cloud security. Moving data or applications back to on-premises infrastructure, on the other hand, empowers businesses with increased control over their security infrastructure. This control extends to areas such as network configurations, access controls, encryption methods, and physical security measures.
• Limited know-how: Navigating the cloud on your own can be quite a challenge for enterprises, akin to finding your way in a new city without a map or local guide. No wonder, 78% of companies admit to grappling with the issue of insufficient resources and expertise in the cloud.
• Vendor lock-in periods: This has added another layer of complexity by making businesses overly dependent on a single cloud provider for their infrastructure, services, or applications. They find it difficult to move their data and applications to a cloud of their choice. In such cases, they may decide to move back their data and applications to avoid vendor lock-in.
• Poor data sovereignty: In the modern corporate landscape, safeguarding data, adhering to the regulations of the country in which the data is located, and mitigating leakage risks are critical. A remote cloud environment may undermine data sovereignty and may not comply with local data protection regulations. Enterprises also may lack control over data storage and processing across different jurisdictions.
• Latency and performance: Near-edge or on-premises edge locations are emerging as ideal destinations for repatriated workloads. These locations provide benefits such as minimised latency, on-site data processing capabilities for real-time applications, and support for Internet of Things (IoT) use cases.
In this scenario, cloud repatriation is quickly emerging as a viable business growth strategy. It involves transferring data and applications from a public cloud to an organization’s on-premises data centre, private cloud, or hosting service provider.
Optimising your cloud presence with repatriation
Cloud optimisation aims to maximise efficiency and cost-effectiveness in using cloud computing resources. Therefore, repatriation can manifest in different forms like multi-tenanted private cloud, hosted private cloud, and alternative deployment models.
According to a recent IDC study, customers are finding it extremely compelling to run existing as well as modern born-in-the-cloud workloads in a private cloud environment versus running them on public cloud. Responding to this, system vendors are now providing unified management platforms that offer observability, management, and provisioning capabilities. These solutions allow businesses to access the same user experience as public clouds within their dedicated infrastructure. According to the study, by 2024, the proportion of mission-critical applications running on dedicated traditional data centres will see a decline from 30% currently to 28% while modernised versions of these applications running on private cloud will see an increase to 26%.
Modern enterprises may want to keep certain workloads on-premises while migrating others to the cloud without compromising their data. This allows them to harness the advantages of both environments. So, they need to assess their requirements to determine the best approach to cloud optimisation. But repatriation is a complex process. While organisations traverse this journey to optimise their cloud presence, it inevitably leads into rearchitecting of the network infrastructure and revisiting the existing security solution architecture. Hence, importance of a competent partner who can help an organisation navigate the maze at this stage cannot be overstated.
Srinivasan CR is the Executive Vice President - Cloud and Cybersecurity Services & Chief Digital Officer for Tata Communications. In this role, Srini is responsible for the overall digital and security strategy and execution for Tata Communications – a global digital ecosystem enabler to large enterprises globally. A technologist and a business leader, Srini is also the global business head for cloud and security businesses at Tata Communications enabling digital transformation initiatives for customers. Srini continues to be responsible for creating industry standards in cloud computing solutions for customers coupled with solidifying the internal digital processes and delivering technical solutions to enhance business growth and productivity.