One of the main drivers behind cloud discussions is the need to improve agility, something which has never been more important for business given current uncertainties. The public cloud enables this increased agility fairly easily but for enterprises it carries a cost premium.
Internationally, enterprises have therefore seen this as a trade-off. The consensus is you can leverage agility at a premium or you can reduce costs and sacrifice agility. In South Africa, however, there is a unique opportunity to learn from this. While being behind the technology curve in comparison to international markets has often been detrimental, in this case it can actually be beneficial. With a change in mindset and the adoption of infrastructure consumption models like intelligent storage technologies, local enterprises can leverage agility without sacrificing cost or performance.
The cost-agility trade-off
Unlike small to medium businesses, who benefit from the economies of scale of the cloud providers which they lack, Enterprises typically have large investments in infrastructure and are already benefit significantly economies of scale, so when they migrate into the cloud they end up paying a premium. The dichotomy has arisen as enterprises can push applications into their private cloud where it will be cheaper, but provisioning will take longer. As a result, agility is lower. Alternatively, they can push applications into the public cloud for immediate provisioning at a price premium.
Budgets in the face of uncertainty
This does not bode well as we head into potentially the biggest financial downturn of the century and definitely the most uncertain period in recent history. It is impossible to predict the impact financially and when markets will recover. From an IT perspective, there is significant operational uncertainty. Enterprises are grappling with IT budgets affected by unprecedented financial challenges and with budgets not clearly defined, effective planning becomes impossible. Investing in infrastructure may be out of the question. However, by taking this decision business will implicitly be forced into the public cloud. Yet this move may have an even greater impact on already strained finances. A more intelligent approach is needed to deliver the required levels of agility without unnecessary financial implications.
A modern approach to storage to solve the dichotomy
While IT consists of layers beyond storage, the network level does not require frequent scaling and the computing environment today is practically 100% virtualised. This leaves storage as the last outpost of scalability challenge, making it instrumental in solving the elasticity challenge in the public cloud environment.
An intelligent storage provider can empower enterprises with the capacity they need now and availability for future requirements, with no physical access or shipping required. The infrastructure and hardware are already pre-installed on-premises and can simply be accessed (on demand) as and when needed, solving both procurement and elasticity challenges.
This is made possible thanks to intelligent algorithms that enable storage to become dramatically more cost-effective the more it grows. The cost disruption is built into the model with a focus on software innovation to drive performance rather than expensive storage media. The result is that elasticity and scalability are achieved in both the public and private cloud, delivering the ultimate combination of cost reduction, agility, and competitive edge.
In an economic downturn, businesses compete for a smaller market so they need agility and cost savings. Settling for one or the other is not a viable solution and fortunately this traditional trade-off between cost and agility is not always necessary. A modern and intelligent approach to data storage can deliver a private cloud platform with a pay-per-use consumption model. It also provides instant scalability as achieved with a public cloud model without the price premiums typically associated with Capacity On Demand (COD).
Eran Brown is CTO for EMEA & at Infinidat