Public cloud versus hybrid, multi-cloud solutions?

By Allyson Towle
Johannesburg, 24 Jan 2018

ITWeb Cloud Summit 2018 hosts experts from across industry to uncover the evolution of cloud from a disruptive force to next-generation IT. The event guarantees you more than ever before in experts, content, case studies, and relevant local insight, including access to Cloudistics chief scientist Dr Jai Menon.

ITWeb events spoke to him to find out more about whether public cloud will bring real savings to your enterprise, or if hybrid, multi-cloud solutions are the answer.

ITWeb: What are the top two recent advancements in cloud technology that resulted in more companies across the globe and across industry migrating?

Menon: In our view, cloud is not a destination it is an "experience". You can get that experience on-prem (private cloud) or in the sky (public cloud). There has been a significant increase in usage of both public clouds and private clouds for two key reasons, they allow greater agility for IT to respond to the needs of the business and they allow customers to focus on their applications, instead of their infrastructure.

ITWeb Cloud Summit 2018

This consists of two tracks, and over 20 experts presenting on everything cloud-related from strategy, security and compliance to security and technology trends. For the agenda, click here. If you are a qualified end user register now for this free-to-attend cloud conference and exhibition or showcase your cloud products, services and solutions at this exclusive event on Thursday 8 February 2018, Vodacom World, Midrand. Contact Debbie Visser on to find out how you can be seen as an expert in cloud by over 200 qualified end users.

Private clouds are preferred when the customer needs performance, governance and control whereas public clouds are preferred when workloads are dynamic and require infrastructure to be rapidly scaled up or down.

Recent cloud advancements include the use of containers and serverless technologies that continue to improve the "experience" while lowering cost.

ITWeb: What are the pros and cons associated with moving to the cloud and more specifically with hybrid and multi-cloud technologies?

Menon: The advantages of a public cloud are low cost of entry, OPEX billing model, "unlimited" scale, fast time to deploy, ease of use, and availability of cutting edge features (such as machine learning).

The disadvantages of a public cloud are lock-in, complex and non-intuitive billing, ballooning costs for 24x7 applications, performance penalty relative to private clouds and the difficulty of integration with on-prem data and apps.

Some people have explored the use of multiple public cloud providers to avoid lock-in. The disadvantages of a multi-cloud approach to customers are the need to train staff in multiple cloud technologies, the inability to use the latest and greatest features in building an application that is truly multi-cloud, and the loss of price leverage.

Hybrid cloud is a complex technology and generally involves "like-to-like" migration, for example from Azure Stack on-prem to Azure in the cloud, or from VMware on-prem to VMware on AWS. We are still in the early days of hybrid cloud, and it will continue to evolve and get better. The end-game of being able to seamless migrate to any cloud of your choice while managing everything from a single portal with a single look and feel is still far from being real.

ITWeb: How should an organisation go about deciding whether to move to the cloud or stay on premises or a combination of both?

Menon: There are technical, ecosystem and business considerations that play into whether to put a particular workload in the public cloud or on-premises. The technical considerations include factors such as how elastic is the workload, what level of performance is important, how much data is being generated by the application, does the application need to integrate with other applications and where are these other applications running. Ecosystem considerations include factors such as lock-in, and for software, "is there a mature SAAS offering available I can depend on?"

Business considerations include the customer's preference for spending OPEX versus Capex, the location i.e. where their end-user is located relative to where the public cloud data centre located. It is also important to consider business policies around the acceptability of putting business data outside the firewall, compliance considerations of the industry in which the organisation participates, the availability of cloud expertise, and so on.

Most organisations will end up with some workloads on their own premises and some workloads in a public cloud.

ITWeb: What are the most important pointers organisations should remember when moving to the cloud?

Menon: This is not a simple decision as we have mentioned. Organisations should start off by asking themselves a few high-level questions, such as "why am I moving to the cloud in the first place?" and "how much of my current operational model will need to be reworked and the how much will my staff need to be retrained to react to the demands of the lines of business I support?"

It is important for organisations to think very carefully about which benefits of cloud computing they are hoping to realise and then decide if the public cloud, a private cloud, or likely a combination of both is the right answer for them.

ITWeb: What do you see as the biggest digital transformer to driver/motivator a move to cloud?

Menon: Cloud infrastructures, whether public or private, when deployed well, will enable your business to respond quicker to changes. It should allow for rapid exploration into new applications and services that your IT department can bring to the business. It will allow the time for innovation that will either make your company more profitable or let you break into more markets to serve your targeted constituents. Simply porting your technology from your data centre to someone else's, is not enough. Giving your teams additional applications and capabilities or reallocating your team's time for innovation is where the biggest win will come from.

ITWeb: Why did you agree to present at the Cloud Summit? What is it that you bring to the table and what do you want attendees to take away with them after your presentation?

Menon: I'm excited to be coming to speak at the ITWeb Cloud Summit in South Africa. I have been in IT for very many years, including CTO roles at IBM and Dell. I have witnessed first hand the various waves in computing that have come and gone, from traditional first-generation siloed infrastructure, through second-generation converged, then third-generation hyper-converged - all the way through to today's fourth-generation composable cloud platforms.

I'm delighted to share my vision of how companies can truly embrace the benefits of the cloud and I'm here to give your attendees visibility to all the factors that they should be thinking about when considering and planning their journey to the cloud.