Hybrid IT

Public Cloud Outages: Should You Put All Your Workloads in One Place?

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Gary Thome, VP and Chief Engineer at HPE’s Software-Defined & Cloud Group analyses the recent high-profile public cloud outages

A growing number of businesses are becoming dependent on public cloud for their IT systems. Looking back at several high profile public cloud outages this year, a consistent response emerged. Numerous analysts and authors agreed that maybe businesses shouldn’t have all their workloads in one place. Just maybe, a diversified approach that combines both public and private clouds would work better.

A diversified strategy

After the memorable AWS outage in February, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions, stated, “Cloud sourcing is no different than any product or service sourcing. The old adages still apply: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and keep your options open.  A private to multi-cloud continuum that can react in real time is and will remain the safest route to nonstop business continuity.”

Not surprisingly, after the outage a few articles defended the public cloud monolith. One such article quoted a prominent analyst who covers public cloud referring to the outage as a “hiccup.” Yet according to another article in Business Insider, the disruption hurt 54 of the top 100 internet retailers when their websites either crashed completely or slowed by 20% or more. Cyence, a startup that analyzes the economic impact of internet risk, had reported that financial services companies in the U.S. lost an estimated $150 million.

So how do you decide? It’s all about control.

The advice to diversify doesn’t really guide anyone’s decision on where to host different workloads with different needs. The outage back on February 28 (last day of the month) was the result of AWS doing some routine maintenance — a simple command. Yet due to human error, simple maintenance caused major issues for many businesses. Before this routine procedure, did AWS contact everyone and say, “Hey, we’re planning to do some changes. Does this timing work for you?”

Of course not. Yet, who is in control is an important thing to consider. If my business runs critical end-of-month reports, I probably wouldn’t have scheduled anything to be changed on this last day of the month. (Because, as we all know, things such as routine IT maintenance, software upgrades, etc., don’t always go as planned.)

So perhaps before putting an application in a public cloud, the question to ask is, “Can I accept an unexpected outage at any possible time in this application?” If the answer is no, then maybe you need to run this application on premises where you can control when system upgrades can or cannot occur.

Public clouds can’t be controlled — at least not by any individual business that uses them. Businesses that put their workloads in the cloud give away a fair amount of that control. Knowing this fact, it’s wise to plan accordingly. And more importantly, do an inventory of your cloud workload to assess if they are meeting your current SLA commitments.

A hybrid IT approach gives you more control

Now is the time for every business to take stock of their applications and decide which ones should be in the public cloud and which ones should remain on traditional IT or a private cloud. Thanks to recent innovations in hyperconverged and composable solutions, private cloud options are now better than ever. Speed, agility, and efficiency are standard features in these new offerings, giving businesses all of the benefits of the public cloud without losing any of the control.

With the new innovations around private cloud, why put all your eggs into one basket? Instead, spread out your risk with a strategy that blends the best of public and private cloud.

Many businesses are learning that diversifying risk with a hybrid IT strategy is a smarter approach. It’s time to take back some much needed control.

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About Gary Thome

Gary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies including HPE Synergy. To learn how composable infrastructure can help you achieve a hybrid IT environment in your data center, download the free HPE Synergy for Dummies eBook.

To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Converged Data Center Infrastructure blog.

Why Microsoft’s Azure Stack is a game changer for hybrid IT

Could Microsoft’s not-so secret weapon get the edge on AWS?

The promise of the cloud is based on offloading processing and other data management tasks to offsite locations, but businesses of all sizes are gradually coming to realise that they’re better off running certain applications internally.

Microsoft are hoping Azure Stack will bridge this gap, giving Azure users the ability to run Azure consistent services in their own data centers. “Azure Stack will be a game changer in terms of how we run our data centres” predicts Mark Skelton, Head of Consultancy at OCSL, a Microsoft-friendly IT service provider. He adds:

It effectively creates Nirvana; one place to code, one place to develop and one platform to build upon.

Here are a few reasons why Azure Stack is in huge demand before it’s release.

Consistent Application Development

While public cloud promises greater flexibility, experts have noted a drawback: Developing cloud applications means relying completely on external hardware and services. In addition to noting the problems that occur when network connectivity is lost, cloud users have also come to realize that some tasks are better done on internal hardware.

With Azure Stack, developers can rely on the same programming platform for both public and private applications, simplifying software development. Furthermore, developers can seamlessly switch between these two types of processing, making it easier to tweak software on the fly. This unified interface looks to further solidify Azure’s place in the cloud field.

Integrated Solution with partnerships

Public cloud provides a largely transparent experience; developers don’t need to worry about hardware-specific quirks and features. With Azure Stack, Microsoft wants to ensure a seamless infrastructure that will maximize the performance of Azure Stack, which is the reason Azure Stack is only available through select hardware partners. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for example, is offering HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack, providing an integrated hybrid cloud solution that is coupled with the broad range of service and support services HPE is known for providing.

Microsoft’s Claude Lorenson spoke to us a few weeks ago about their joint product strategy with HPE. “We’ve invested with HPE on big assets” he says, in reference to their Azure Stack Innovation Centres which are “more than kicking the tires” on market readiness. Watch his chat with HPE’s Aaron Spurlock above.

Pay-as-You-Use Pricing

The pay-as-you-use pricing model has been a major driver in public cloud’s success; companies don’t have to risk heavy upfront licensing fees to try out cloud options, and they can easily scale their growth as their demands increase. One of the most innovative aspects of Azure Stack is bringing this model into private data centers. Below, Microsoft’s Global Leader for Microsoft’s Worldwide Channel Sales Alyssa Fitzpatrick explains why there is nothing else like it on the market.

Avoiding the cost of upfront software licensing makes Azure Stack a compelling option for both large and small companies. It makes it easier for any business to calculate the cost of increasing operational demands.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of pay-as-you-use pricing is its simplicity; being able to avoid licensing negotiations can be a significant boon for businesses.  HPE are offering pay-as-you-use pricing from the integrated hardware solution side as well, further simplifying the hybrid cloud experience.

Azure from your datacenter

Azure is known for its reliability, security, and flexibility; Azure Stack lets companies take advantage of these features in their own datacenters. Microsoft have announced a number of capabilities that will be available with version 1 (below).

Why Microsoft's Azure Stack is a game changer for hybrid IT TechNative

The power of Azure goes beyond its virtualization capabilities, and its features may lead companies to switch some tasks previously done on other hardware to their Azure Stack environment. Microsoft has made it clear that Azure and its ecosystem are cornerstones of their future efforts, and businesses will be able to take advantage of improvements they make to the platform over the years.

The Azure platform has become a workhorse of business computing, and there’s no sign that demand for cloud computing is going to slow down any time soon. However, the cloud is constantly evolving, and Azure Stack promises businesses a flexible and powerful tool that will continue to cement Microsoft’s leading role in the cloud space.

The company have promised general availability of Azure Stack in “mid-2017” (like now?) but you can still download the technical preview here.