Cost reduction is one of the most often cited benefits of moving from legacy to cloud infrastructure. While it is definitely possible to trim expenses by, for example, shifting CAPEX to OPEX via cloud and in turn making infrastructure flexible and more responsive to changing business requirements, savings should not be pursued for their own sake. Moreover, eliminating cost centers is not as simple as setting a target number. In many cases, it also requires dealing with the reality on the ground of complex heterogeneous environments.
The prioritization of cost-cutting above all else is a significant cause of failure for many private cloud implementations, as a 2014 Gartner survey illustrated. Reduced costs are usually the byproducts of effective cloud and not the goals that originally drove their creation. For instance, implementing a cloud requires addressing other challenges, like removing infrastructure complexity, from the start.
What other priorities should teams have for cloud projects instead of lowering costs? Start with better end-to-end infrastructure automation. A cloud management platform such as QualiSystems CloudShell provides the technical foundation for bridging legacy and cloud stacks and automating any type of infrastructure. Accordingly, infrastructure and operations teams can address the maintenance of existing assets, mitigate the risk inherent in cloud migrations and enable DevOps innovation.
Shifting cloud priorities from cost to benefit
Let's look at hybrid cloud for a moment. Hybrid infrastructure appears to be becoming the norm for enterprises in particular. A recent IDG Connect study found that 45 percent of them already had a hybrid solution in place. Half were utilizing private clouds and 38 percent depended upon public clouds.
"Prioritize better end-to-end infrastructure automation."
Hybrid cloud is right at the nexus of cost reduction and IT transformation. It affords teams a high degree of flexibility in devtest and capacity bursting, which can lend itself to lower costs and shorter resource provisioning times. The ability to adjust workloads, so that they run on the optimal infrastructure available at a given time, can save money, but the bigger change is getting more mileage from each dollar spent. Through hybrid infrastructure with a self-service cloud management platform, long wait times and programmer-related bottlenecks can be eliminated.
"While cost savings is part of the hybrid story (optimizing what workloads go where based on cost), the bigger picture involves optimizing the user experience (maximizing what workloads go where based on provided value)," observed Jason Verge for Data Center Knowledge. "Whether it be an employee with a back-office application, a developer in need of compute resources on the fly, or a consumer on a shopping spree, it all needs to happen in or near real-time."
The hybrid cloud ideally delivers greater convenience (e.g., on-demand resources and automatic updates) than traditional infrastructure. Still, getting the most out of cloud can be challenging for organizations without priorities or clear roadmaps.
Respondents to the IDG Connect study cited security and network performance as two of the biggest impediments to hybrid cloud success. There are also potential pitfalls such as culture clashes as more infrastructure becomes programmable and teams take up DevOps. Focusing on benefits beyond cost and utilizing a cloud platform with features like centralized inventory management provides the cultural and technical wherewithal to make a sustainable move to the cloud.
The takeaway: Cloud computing can save money compared to legacy IT infrastructure, but cost reduction is far from its only or main benefit. With an effective hybrid cloud in place, it's possible to transform everyday processes to make the business as a whole more agile and adaptable. A cloud management platform adeptly addresses the many types of infrastructure that enterprises have in place, enabling a transformative transition from legacy to cloud.