by Meg Ramsey
No one IT infrastructure solution is perfect for every application workload. But matching each application to the right solution is easier said than done.
Many organisations increasingly use multiple infrastructures to cater to their applications’ unique requirements. By identifying your business needs and mapping them to specific solutions, however, you can determine where each application should land.
There are three major types of IT infrastructure to consider for your applications: hyperscale public cloud, hosted private cloud and managed hosting. We’ll walk through the advantages of each and the questions you should ask when choosing the best home for your application.
Hyperscale Public Cloud
Decide early on whether you’re able to leverage a public cloud, especially when it comes to security. The major hyperscale providers have embraced security and compliance wholeheartedly, and most are already fully ISO, SOC, PCI, HIPAA, FISMA, ITAR and FedRAMP certified. That said, it is still your responsibility to secure your data. There are several reasons to opt for a public cloud:
- You have non-static traffic and usage. Let’s say you’re a retailer with peak traffic and application usage between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. With a hyperscale public cloud, your infrastructure will autoscale based on customer demand and then decrease as your usage drops after the holiday season. Since public cloud only charges for what you use, you can save considerable amounts of money during your low season because you did not have to provision year round for your high-water mark.
Another example is if you run extract, transform, load (ETL) processes at night to process your data, or if you’re conducting batch processes, like an insurance company running an application for calculations at noon every weekday. Running these workloads in a hyperscale environment means you only pay for cloud services when you execute these scripts.
- You develop IoT, mobile or Mode 2 applications. The leading hyperscale public cloud companies offer Platform as a Service (PaaS) that can accelerate your application development. For example, with an application that collects pictures, you might use a public cloud platform’s API-driven machine learning to re-orient photos for better viewing. Or maybe you acquired a company in a country that speaks a different language and you need translation help. Public cloud providers have created translation services you can use with the call of an API.
The best part is you don’t have to build these tools yourself; you can leverage the public cloud’s platform services to move faster and focus your application development on only the features that truly differentiate your business.
- You need inexpensive space for backups and storage. In a world where backing up your data is more important than ever, the public cloud offers limitless customisable storage space as an affordable operating expense.
Hosted Private Cloud
Hosted private clouds aren’t as flexible as public clouds but can offer the benefit of dedicated environments. Opt for hosted private cloud if:
- You have large, steady-state workloads. Once you hit a certain price point (around $75,000 to $100,000 monthly spend), have steady, consistent workloads, and if you’re not interested in the platform services offered by hyperscale providers, hosted private cloud may be a better option for you from a cost-management perspective.
- Your applications use a significant amount of data. If you have a high-performance workload, a hosted private cloud will help you avoid any jitter caused by “noisy neighbours” in the public cloud.
- Your applications are customised. Because public clouds receive hundreds of updates and patches per year, if you’re running highly customised applications that cannot tolerate these updates, a private cloud where you control the update timelines may be the best hosting option for you.
If you have a legacy application with special requirements but don’t want to own or manage the infrastructure it runs on, managed hosting can save you time, effort and money. However, the opposite is also true – if you want to maintain control of the applications and the infrastructure, then managed hosting isn’t for you.
With managed hosting, you purchase the application’s license and then ask the service provider to run it. However, licensing issues could also make software on managed hosting prohibitively expensive depending on how the terms are interpreted.
Lastly, just like the public cloud, you need to evaluate whether you can store your data and applications in a managed hosting environment for compliance purposes.
Finalizing your strategy
Your business requirements and application needs will drive your infrastructure choices. By comparing the needs of your applications with the pros and cons of the different IT infrastructure choices, you’ll be able to pinpoint the right home for each application.
Meg Ramsey is an experienced strategist and consultant within the cloud, IT infrastructure and telecommunications industries. Serving as vice president of cloud services at Sungard AS, Ramsey sets the cloud strategy and vision for the company with a focus on delivering application recovery and interoperability across all cloud platforms. She received her BS from Georgia Institute of Technology and is currently pursuing an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.