Graeme O'driscoll
Graeme O'driscoll Head: Software Engineering

Cloud computing offers a number of real, tangible benefits, but it needs to be used optimally. Internet Solutions discusses factors you need to consider when deciding on the perfect cloud platform for your business.

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What do you do when you’ve made the alarming discovery that your current workload platform is no longer fit-for-purpose, and can no longer maintain the performance, security or costs you demand? It’s something we’ve talked about in a previous blog. And it’s no secret that a workload will perform better when complemented by the right platform, which is why it’s time for you to migrate. But with so many factors to account for, how do you go about selecting the right platform?

We’ve put together a few questions you should ask yourself before making that decision.

The primary geographic location of your workload is of crucial importance, as it will affect your end-user experience, application latency, data regulations and pricing. But because it can be difficult to account for every technical requirement with any one location, “it’s important you align and prioritise your business’s financial requirements with the technical ones of its workloads,” says Internet Solutions' Hayden Stone.

If your end users are located within South Africa, for example, hosting workloads locally will provide the lowest possible latency, which is pivotal for a good customer (or employee) experience. Similarly, if your end users are located internationally, then an international provider is your best bet.

There are some exceptions. “If the workload requires access to data from within your corporate network, placing it internationally to the benefit of a largely international user base may have its own consequences; poor latency between workload and network,” says Stone. In that case, it’s best to discuss the possibility and consequences of migrating the data your international workload depends on, to a similar internationally-hosted cloud platform, with your service provider.

Conversely, if latency isn’t a factor for you, and what you require is raw performance for data crunching, international servers can be better equipped, and substantial enough to accommodate your workload. It’s also worth considering the exchange rate, which can impact the overall cost of your cloud computing if hosted internationally.

Governance and compliance is paramount

It would also be unwise to overlook the regulations governing data sovereignty in the country set to host your workload. "The legality of where you store your data means different things for different industries and different types of data, whether you're a multinational or a home-grown organisation," says Stone. It’s important, therefore, to consider the privacy laws that apply to data and how that affects your end user and your business as a whole.

It’s also of utmost importance to assure individual platform service providers comply with preferred best practices, governance and compliance requirements. “What tools are in place for the client to view the metrics, analytics and thresholds of a platform? What assurances are there that backend changes won’t be made without a client’s approval? What backup systems are in place? And what security is being implemented to safeguard the workload?” asks Stone.

Is your workload regular or irregular?

Consider the ebb and flow for each workload. "Clients who require a fixed server approach – to cater for regular and, crucially, predictable workloads, for example – should use Standard Virtual Machines," says Stone. "They offer a more traditional operational functionality, meaning a spec is agreed upon for a desired period or until a change in the contract is made. Otherwise, there is virtually no room for adjustment to what is provided." In return, you get the best possible price for what is effectively a static workload.

"Virtual Data Centres offer a more flexible operational environment," suggests Stone, "which means limited, controlled scalability, best suited to accommodate fairly regular, predictable workloads that might require more horsepower at certain times of the month. This allows clients to fine tune the environment as time ticks over." Like with Standard Virtual Machines, your cost will come down to a contractual, month-by-month cost, "allowing you to map out your IT spend way in advance," says Stone. “Point for point, it is a little pricier than Standard Virtual Machines, but it’s often worth it for the flexibility built into the offering,” argues Stone.

The benefit of the public cloud is that it's purely consumption-based. "That only makes sense if you are going to be changing your platform requirements based on dynamic, irregular usage," says Stone. Because resource availability fluctuates to meet supply and demand, sometimes sitting idle while at maximum capacity at others, pricing can fluctuate. That means that public cloud isn't necessarily cheaper per second than what you would otherwise have paid for using a fixed contract. What you will get is the best possible value for money. "It's all about the flexibility to really fine tune your spend, as opposed to paying for idle resources," says Stone.

Do you use existing Internet Solutions services?

Customers already using existing Internet Solutions services can easily consider hosting cloud-based workloads with either Dimension Data or Internet Solutions, for a tight integration into existing services. Of course, Internet Solutions can assist if an international platform makes more technical or financial sense for your business. "Regardless of where your workload requirement takes you, we can assist,” says Stone.

Download our flowchart for more on the best platform that will suit your business's workloads.

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