The term “cloud” is tightly associated with the technology we use for storing and editing pictures and documents. It's like outsourcing some common computer programs that we, perhaps, don't need anymore. The same changes may influence not just single users, but the whole business sectors. Companies strive to be ahead of competition, and that's the reason they keep a close eye on the latest technology trends.
Which aspects you should consider before migrating to the cloud? Which cloud service to choose? Should you take all your product to the cloud or migrate partly? And is there any sense to use cloud services at all? Let's clear up the sky!
Let's imagine you're running a young company that is going to dominate the world IT market. You already have a strategy in place and your product's beta version. And it seems there isn't much left now, just product release and reaping rewards, is it?
But that is where the challenge starts. Which platform to choose for your product launch? Where will you get the most profit? Finally, how to take all the risks into account and not waste your money?
90% of startups are web service providers. That's why we'll have IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) model in discussion here. By IaaS we mean any product with an infrastructure behind it: a web server, database, file storage etc. For a deeper overview, let's compare cloud vs server approach for IaaS product development.
The Cloud. What Are the Pros?
1. Doesn't require huge setup investments
You can allocate as little resources for a successful launch as possible. Don't be afraid they won't be enough, as you can always extend the capacity without interrupting your business processes. Potential data center investments always exceed the amount of actual resources you really need.
2. Variable costs reduction
The cloud allows flexible resources consumption setup, that's why you pay only for the capacity you actually use.
3. Infrastructure maintenance
Any configuration changes are just one click away. You won't need an army of technical staff or an outsourced colocation provider. This way your organization gains more flexibility since you'll need less time and money for development and experiments.
4. Geographical independence
You'll be able to adjust your product presence in any region depending on where your customers are.
5. Variety of services to choose from
The cloud market is full of products able to suit any need and pocket. Starting from ready-made cloud storage services, databases, virtualization servers to monitoring software, analytics, virtual backup and more.
Which Cloud Service to Choose?
Here comes the challenge. We bet some of the market leaders are already familiar to you, but choosing a platform for your own product is a tough mission anyway. Let your choice be based on firm facts and figures including computing, analytics, storage, network and price data. Do your best to go through the list below to make the best decision.
Amazon Web Services
Released in 2006, this cloud platform is an industry pioneer with a huge market share. Amazon regularly updates and improves its cloud solution to provide a wide range of 70+ services worldwide. AWS can be accessed from 52 spots covering 18 geographical regions worldwide. Another 12 zones are planned to be launched soon.
Launched in 2010, the service has developed rapidly. Microsoft Azure represents a comprehensive system that supports multiple services, program languages, and frameworks. It comes with 60+ services and data processing centers situated in 42 geographical regions worldwide. Today, these guys have 11% of the cloud market. Microsoft is also the first company to have successfully entered the Chinese market.
Note: AWS utilizes Elastic Compute Cloud as the main computing force. This system can quickly scale up the computation upon request. Meanwhile Microsoft Azure uses classic virtual machines.
Google Cloud Platform
Released in 2011, Google Cloud Platform is now the youngest among the competitors. And serves Google and YouTube needs in the first place.
With the 5% market share, Google has 6 global data processing centers that provide a range of 50 services.
Established in 2011 after being accepted to the TechStars startup accelerator program in Boulder, Colorado. By the end of the startup program the company had already had 400 subscribers with 10 000 cloud servers launched.
DigitalOcean offers cloud hosting services only. Another important point is that the company is responsible enough to separate the hosting types and offers only VDS (Virtual Dedicated Server). DigitalOcean hosts its servers in the USA (New York and San Francisco), Europe (London, Amsterdam) and Singapore. DigitalOcean utilizes KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) programming complex and is represented by 12 data centers worldwide.
This article is surely not enough for a complete capabilities analysis of the platforms above. That's why we 've decided to break the cloud platforms' features into a list and analyze them by categories.
- Flexible Payment Plans
- Monthly Price
- Data Centres
- Auto Scaling
- API support
- Bandwidth Cost
The table above contains the aggregated information with prices on cloud solutions with similar configurations.
How to get a custom estimate for your project? Easy. Almost any service has online calculator available to help you get as precise estimate as possible for your instance.
Is Cloud Computing Worth It?
DigitalOcean is obviously the cheapest solution, but it is also the least flexible at the same time. With a limited amount of droplets (that's how DigitalOcean calls their virtual machines), it is surely not about flexible pricing models, predictable service loads, additional resources upon request and the rest of bonuses that are a common thing for Amazon users.
Well. It's both a benefit and a drawback. With the price being fixed, it is easier to plan your infrastructure expenses. At the same time, it is harder to extend the system and make it more flexible.
But feel free to enjoy flexibility and various adjustments with the rest three platforms! They offer a large variety of opportunities you can choose from, so you won't know what to look first.
The cloud is a GOOD idea, if:
You need a reliable SLA (Service-level agreement)
Just take it and go. We mean it, really. Just make sure your provider meets the key standards: availability, performance, privacy of data, disaster recovery expectations, change management process, access to the data, exit strategy expectations etc. This way you won't need to manage the IT infrastructure and will be able to focus on line-of-business aims rather than troubleshooting.
Your customers are located worldwide
For example, you have Asia as your target market. This way it is easier for you to have your instances in this location, than manage hosting issues with Asian providers. Just a couple of clicks, and your product hits the Chinese market.
You need to cut the costs
For most companies the cost of IT infrastructure maintenance is the cost of doing business. So why not move to the cloud? Imagine you run a startup and have no idea whether it is a success. All you need is to launch quickly at the lowest budget possible to be able to quit after fail. No worries, that's not gonna happen, but forewarned is forearmed!
The cloud is a BAD idea, if:
Your project is content-rich
A lot of content equals a lot of traffic. This way the cloud will cost you a fortune. And that is true for all providers. Your colocation provider's plan will include 50TB of free traffic for $40 on a dedicated server. You'll spend an estimated $4k on Amazon on that, for example.
You have a tech-heavy product
You'll need strong computing resources to run your project. This way it's better to opt for a common server than pay several times more for the cloud.
You suffer from paranoia
No joking. Besides promised SLA reliability, 99,9% of customers ask the same question: who owns the data? To be honest, you have no control over your data visibility, updates or usage. Though cloud operation managers may limit your access, you can't limit their access or prevent your data from being accessed.
Sure, you can encrypt all the data on server, but still, you can't control the initial access. Frankly speaking, you lose control over your data that can result into increased security and hacking risks.
Another point to consider: What if Amazon or DigitalOcean die? Just one day there will be no Amazon and DigitalOcean anymore? What will you do? Sounds like a fine apocalyptic movie scenario, but you never know.
We can write a book on the pros and cons of cloud computing. This article was based on thoughts of our System Administrator, Pavel Koba. Based on his professional experience, he has shared some basic ideas on how the choice and decision should be made.
Being in the cloud is not just the matter of fashion. It can turn to be an expensive experiment once done without the necessary audit and analysis. Your first step on the way to the cloud should be understanding of whether you migrate 100% of your product or it is better to put just a part to the cloud. Analyse the benefits and keep the risks in mind.
How Zfort Group Can Help?
Cloud migration is not all wine and roses as it might seem. The better you get to the point and start analyzing the pros and cons of “going cloud”, the better you realize it's better to think twice. Here, at Zfort Group, we've already gone through the whole transition process and will be glad to help you get started.
Have any questions? Just drop us a line and speak to our expert!