Just when you think you've gotten your head around the latest concepts to come out of your IT department, along comes another change in best practices to stop you in your tracks. Oh sure, we've been talking about the cloud for a long time now, but that cloud you heard so much about is now a veritable forest with intricate sections, breathing spaces and capabilities depending on the nature of your business.
With widespread security data breaches from the major players like Yahoo and Microsoft, large scale adoption to the public cloud was slow. But, thanks to its advancing technology and lower costs, the public cloud is beginning to prove its popularity and security once again. According to research by Forrester, the public cloud services market will reach an astounding $236 billion in 2020. And, with companies like Netflix and Airbnb migrating to it, everyone wants a slice of the action.
But with all its twists and turns, it's obviously critical to understand the dynamics of the public cloud before tapping its power, so I sat down with Josh Stella, CEO of Fugue to get the dish.
Having spent years working with AWS before founding his own cloud infrastructure governance service for DevOps, he knows a thing or two about the subject. He says, "The public cloud is the biggest change in computing since, really, the 1950s. It's a big, big deal. And we're just starting to see the implications of it."
So here's the skinny:
The Public Cloud in a Nutshell
The public cloud is basically the internet, available to the public at large. Service providers use the public cloud to create resources and applications, and users enjoy a pay-per-usage model, whereby they only incur costs according to the capacity they use. These economies of scale and democratization of large-scale capability are causing low barriers to entry and leveling the playing field for companies large and small.
"It used to be before the cloud, if you wanted the best and fastest database in the world, you were gonna go spend a million bucks to build a big mainframe or large-scale cluster to run that. With Amazon, you can get started on the fastest database in the world for free. And as you scale, you can scale to nearly infinity. Put another way, it lowers the barriers to entry for everyone," Stella explains.
With the private cloud, your organization has to foot the bill for multiple servers to meet spikes in demand. The public cloud offers the same on a pay-as-you-need-it basis. And there are several other advantages of the public cloud over the private cloud for your business. It's user friendly, as it's made by developers for developers, offers greater elasticity, never runs out storage, and is now sufficiently hardened by repeated hacking attempts to offer greater security. So, while you may baulk at publicized data breaches, chances are, it's actually the safest place for your company data to be.
Innovation (Unfortunately!) Can Lead to Data Breaches
The public cloud model may not be right for every business as it limits configuration and can be less-than-ideal for services that manage sensitive data with strict compliance regulations. What's more, in the scramble to get on the cloud, innovators are causing data breaches, like the recent misconfigured Amazon S3 server leaking data of 50,000 Australian employees.
While goof ups like this serve to give the public cloud a bad name, Stella assures us that the problem is not in fact, with the cloud, but with people misusing its features. He says, "You've seen in the press recently, people misconfiguring parts of the Amazon cloud and leaving a hole somewhere where data gets stolen or whatever... It's very feature-rich, it's very powerful, and it's also pretty easy to get wrong as a result. You have to be quite careful. If you get it wrong, you just took your inside critical data and put it on the internet."
Plan Before Migrating to the Cloud
Before migrating to the public cloud, then, a company needs to invest in proper planning and the right resources, rolling out the migration project in several carefully controlled stages and, depending on your company infrastructure, outsourcing to an expert cloud migration provider.
Stella confirms, "It's really hard to constitute these large teams you need to leverage cloud the best way. And in addition to that, it really doesn't help you with your business, right? If you're not a cloud automation company, why are you investing a ton in automating the cloud?"
That's where companies like Fugue come in, to ensure that businesses "don't get disrupted by somebody else who's going faster, but to do it while maintaining safety, security, organizational insight into what's being done, and do it right."
In summary, the public cloud very well might be a huge asset to your business if you know how to use it. For high-growth tech startups, the cloud certainly allows for scalability and does not burden businesses with the task of becoming a cloud company in addition to what they already do. And it's easy to jump on the public cloud bandwagon when major companies have made the leap themselves - just make sure your move is calculated and that you always innovate with security at the forefront.