Cost is one of the primary considerations for enterprise organisations considering cloud migration. A cloud platform’s on-demand pricing and elasticity make it easier to achieve optimal utilisation than with colocated or in-house bare metal. But the cost is far from being the only benefit of cloud migration, and ignoring other factors can lead to poor vendor choices, especially for companies without large IT and DevOps teams. Security, support and management services should also be considered.
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Any company with a large on-premises infrastructure deployment is aware of the associated hardware, networking, building, and staffing costs. Migrating to a cloud platform doesn’t make those costs disappear — the cloud vendor has those costs and will pass them on. But cloud providers benefit from economies of scale that most companies can’t. Their costs are lower, and because cloud clients only pay for what they use, they don’t have to spend to maintain, house, and staff an infrastructure deployment that may be idle for most of its lifecycle.
So cost is a motive for cloud migration, but using cost as the only factor in making a decision is a mistake. Some cloud vendors — including many of the biggest names in the business — cut management services and support to the bone to compete on price.
Clients get the infrastructure and the cloud capabilities, but that’s about it. We’ve all heard stories of what happens when a cloud server goes down and takes data with it: the response is usually a shrug with the implication that redundancy and reliability are your problems, not the cloud vendors.
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If an organisation chooses a cloud platform solely by price, they’ll have to ensure that they have an IT and DevOps department capable of making the most of a cloud platform that makes management, performance, and stability the responsibility of the client.
This is especially problematic for smaller companies that don’t have the wherewithal to build great DevOps and IT departments. Decision-makers in these enterprises should think about who is going to manage their infrastructure. Choosing a cloud vendor that offers management services may push up the price, but, because of the economies of scale we discussed earlier, outsourcing will still be less expensive than cultivating the expertise in-house.
Choosing on price alone is a significant cause failure for enterprise cloud projects. Selecting a vendor that can provide management services and has existing partnerships with domain experts is often the best way for smaller companies to make the most of the cloud’s potential.