Unravelling the pitfalls of cloud repatriation

Today, technology is evolving faster than the speed of light. Everywhere we turn, we’re presented with new innovations – ChatGPT leading the AI revolution, hyper-connectivity spearheading the continued adoption of IoT technologies, to name a few. 

It’s an exciting time for tech, but it presents an ongoing challenge for businesses to keep pace with these advancements to boost productivity, increase profits and generate a return on investment.

The advent of cloud computing promised a revolution in the way businesses manage their IT infrastructure – offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency 

As such, the adoption of cloud-powered technologies has skyrocketed in recent years, with recent research revealing that up to 94% of UK businesses have adopted the cloud in some capacity. 

Yet, despite the countless advantages cloud-powered computing can offer, such as more effective data storage and streamlined workplace collaboration, it’s certainly not without its challenges. Network latency issues, hefty cost considerations and vendor lock-ins have led a growing number of businesses to consider reverting their cloud migration journey, or move away from the cloud, altogether.  

Reducing costs or reducing cloud-flexibility?

One of the biggest motivations to withdraw from the cloud is to reduce costs. It’s no secret that the global economic climate is turbulent, with inflation and spiralling costs calling budgets into question. Many businesses looked to capitalise on the hype surrounding the cloud, praised for its ease of use and low upfront costs. A lot of businesses bit off more than they could chew and adopted cloud services and products they didn’t need, without fulling understanding or appreciating the cloud’s major perk of being able to scale easily to meet business demand as and when it is necessary And with rising business costs, they are not seeing enough benefits to justify these soaring costs which is making them want to apply the brakes, leading to many business leaders considering repatriating their data. 

‘Cloud repatriation’, the process where companies migrate their data, applications, and workloads from cloud-powered infrastructure back to on-premises infrastructure, began as a whisper a few years ago, but now, it is gaining major traction as IT budgets are under enhanced scrutiny. In fact, a survey from 451 Research found that 48% of respondents have repatriated at least some of their workloads from the cloud.

Whilst business leaders may initially be enticed by the return to simplicity and reduction in costs often associated with repatriating, this is a short-sighted approach, and the pitfalls can have serious consequences in the long-term. One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is the ability to scale resources up and down when required, giving businesses unmatched flexibility, whereas on-premises infrastructure can often require hefty upfront investments and with ongoing maintenance costs, ensuring it can be as cost-efficient as the cloud can be incredibly challenging. 

Addressing cloud inefficiencies

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the ability to quickly adapt to changing market conditions to meet demand is paramount. We saw this was as clear as day during the height of the pandemic when countless businesses adopted cloud-powered technologies in numerous shapes and forms. Research from Centrify supports this, with over half of UK business leaders stating that the transition to the cloud saved their business from collapse during the pandemic. However, as fast as cloud adoption was during that time, numerous businesses didn’t follow a clear and well-thought strategy when it came to cloud adoption and as a result, their use of cloud-powered technology is poorly inefficient leading to ‘cloud wastage’ and subsequent bloated costs.   

Before deciding to repatriate entirely from the cloud, businesses should take stock of their cloud services and applications to see if there are any inefficiencies that can be remedied. Whilst the cloud can offer unparalleled flexibility and scalability, there’s a likelihood that some businesses are not making the most of cost optimisation strategies provided by cloud platforms. However, if they implement an auto-scaling policy for instance, this could help align their costs with actual demand they are experiencing. 

In addition, as the cloud offers a wealth of specialised services, tools and applications – not all will be beneficial to a business’ efficiency. By conducting a thorough review of what cloud-powered architecture they have implemented, they may discover opportunities to refactor or re-architect existing cloud infrastructure to leverage these capabilities more effectively, leading to improved performance and reduced overhead costs. 

Complete cloud repatriation should be a last resort

If there’s no going back and cloud repatriation is determined to be the strategy for your business’ IT infrastructure moving forward, it is important to understand it is far more complex than simply pulling the plug. 

It is important to remember that repatriation does not have to be a blanket strategy where all operations are reverted on-premises. A hybrid to cloud utilisation can often work well for businesses as it is possible to repatriate certain components of your business’ IT infrastructure whilst still utilising the cloud for other core operations. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to the cloud.

Ultimately, whatever decisions is made for the cloud, the key to any successful transition is to ensure they are as seamless as possible as if cloud repatriation is conducted poorly, companies will likely experience downtime and service disruptions – negatively impacting their ability to conduct business. Cloud adoption is only going to continue to rise, businesses who are digitally armed will be better poised to serve their customers and keep up with their evolving demands. Cloud repatriation is often the result of panic, and for businesses looking to assess their cloud-based operations, it’s important that they conduct a full audit with a specialist cloud provider to fully understand and appreciate their situation and identify any areas that are experiencing cloud wastage. As such complete cloud repatriation should be considered a last resort. 

Whilst maintaining a clear view of the associated costs and benefits, businesses who embrace the full potential of the cloud will be poised to thrive in the digital age.

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Stephen Pettit, Sales Director at M247

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