Now that we’ve torn apart the cloud dream, it’s time to give it some credit. Let’s look at some scenarios where the cloud makes sense.
Email workloads: Faced with the costs of replacing an aging Microsoft Small Business Server (hardware, software, implementation, and ongoing support), the cloud numbers can stack up. This market has been an easy win for Microsoft, who sweetened the deal with other Office 365 products in your license. They’ve lost some of these to Google’s GSuite instead, but for the purpose of this discussion, it’s all cloud. Enterprises commonly pick this workload first in their cloud endeavours. It’s not rocket science. Hybrid directory integration is good, and they’ve saved the overhead of a number of Exchange servers in the process. Your mileage may vary.
Consolidating hardware/reducing support costs: Take the previous paragraph on email and apply that concept to any other workload you might stick in the cloud. If you can get rid of some hardware and the associate infrastructure support costs, the cloud numbers could stack up, especially if your financial controller wants to reign in asset spending but has a flexible operations budget. Those two separate financial buckets affect a company very differently.
Goodbye, experts: Why hire a DBA to manage the performance of an on-prem application when a SaaS app can do the trick? With the cloud, you’re paying a monthly fee for the app to just work. If you want to add extra security features, tick a box and license them, instead of running an RFP process to find and select a solution and a vendor. Worried about DevOps? Make it the SaaS provider's problem and enjoy the benefits of the latest production just by logging in. Need high availability and a 24x7 NOC? Use the cloud, as they’ll be up all night keeping it running for the rest of their customers, anyway.
Testing, testing, 1,2,3: Want to run a proof of concept or play with a new solution? Run it up in the cloud, no hardware required, and stop paying for it when you are done. For software developers, PaaS means they aren’t held back while an IT pro builds a server and they don’t have the tedium of patching it, etc.
Short term or seasonal demand: Releasing a new movie? You’ll have high demand for the trailer, over opening weekend, and in the short term. Two years later, though? Not so much. Village Roadshow in Australia just announced a big move to Microsoft Azure. If you have a short term project or a seasonal demand peak like the holidays, don’t underestimate the elasticity of cloud resources.
Modern capabilities: Satya wasn’t kidding when he said Microsoft was cloud-first (now AI first). There are new features being released constantly in the cloud, first because the vendor controls all of the moving parts and doesn’t have to take into account backward compatibility or version mismatches across the customer base. There are also a ton of SaaS vendors with capabilities you’d have difficulty finding in installable, on-premises software.
SaaS integration: Thanks to APIs, cloud solutions are really good at being connected, as data isn’t being locked away on inaccessible internal networks. Yes, the data storage thing is both a blessing and a curse. SaaS integration has lead to some great workflow and productivity tricks, whether the apps talk to each other directly or they’re doing a trigger and action dance with Zapier, IFTTT, or Microsoft Flow.
So, there’s a bright shiny cloud picture for you. Now, don’t tear apart these ideas too much in the comments. I want to hear where you think the cloud is a win, and where you’ve been glad you’ve moved something to the cloud.