Cloud Computing Considerations, Benefits, and Concerns: Cloud computing is growing rapidly in revenue, sophistication, and capabilities. Some major players are battling it out trying to be the king of the cloud. What does this battle look like? How has the cloud affected companies? What are CTOs’ greatest concerns?
After the Battle for the Cloud TechDebate in Austin, Texas, I spoke with one of our panelists, Evan Niedojadlo, Site Reliability Engineer at Peddle to learn more about his perspectives and cloud computing considerations.
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In the battle for the cloud, what does the battleground look like? What cloud computing decisions have you made for Peddle, and what did the decision-making process look like?
EVAN: I believe the decision as to which cloud solution is right for an organization is, in large part, based on the context of the organization itself. If a company is a Microsoft shop, it will likely have a natural tendency to turn toward Azure. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the first to come to mind for a lot of people due to its large market share.
At Peddle, we’re a multi-cloud company. We started on AWS, and we are still on it. We had some issues on AWS that made us reconsider our cloud computing strategy, but I have stabilized the problems for the most part.
After our cloud solutions review, I ended up choosing Google Cloud. The reason Google Cloud was right for us is that we’re working on a microservices project. With microservices projects you often have containers, and you need a way to orchestrate those containers. Google Kubernetes Engine was the logical choice—it is a managed, production-ready environment for deploying containerized applications. Other clouds have other Kubernetes solutions, but they are just catching up, and I believe Google has much more experience in this area. The other option that Google Cloud is well known for is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) offerings, some of which we utilize for one of our current projects.
At the Battle for the Cloud TechDebate, I learned a lot about the context and cloud computing decision-making process of other organizations. For example, we had a .net developer on the panel who owns a company and has worked with Microsoft technology for a long time; his company is logically using Azure. Another panelist worked for a bank, so they structured a hybrid cloud approach. The bank has some servers on-premise and some in the cloud because it is highly concerned about security.
As I said, cloud computing decision making is driven by the context, or needs, of the organization, rather than by personal preference.
Has cloud computing added efficiency to your organization? What are some of your main cloud computing considerations?
EVAN: I am the cloud computing lead here at Peddle, managing our cloud essentially by myself. Therefore, managed services have become important to me because there are many instances that I did not want to set up myself. The leading cloud providers are all moving in this direction—creating one-click deployments, so you can have much of what you need basically out of the box.
Especially as a company with a small engineering team, managed services allows us to keep our team small. At the same time, because the cloud is so accessible, I can create new accounts, pull team members into a project, and train them quickly.
What are some of the business benefits of cloud computing for Peddle?
EVAN: We are using a cloud-native approach, and I’m working on a DevOps pipeline. I’m working to tear down the silos of what was traditionally operations versus what was traditionally development. This is one of the best aspects of cloud computing. In the past, the systems administrator had to create a server, which took time. There are still many organizations that do this, and it might take a couple of weeks to get a project going. With cloud computing, you can start a new initiative instantly, and you can automate much of the work as well.
Automation is a huge benefit because it makes it realistic to manage a heavy workload while keeping the team size down. Maintaining a low headcount provides obvious benefits to the organization.
Large cloud providers can hire armies of people to staff the various technologies that might be needed, but most companies can’t do that. Cloud providers are allowing companies to tap into their resources, therefore remaining lean and efficient.
Cloud computing also relieves the costs of buying and maintaining servers. There are massive up-front costs involved in buying server hardware, and it is, of course, costly to maintain and keep current. This is a big issue because not every company is funded. Peddle, for example, is intentionally bootstrapped. Cloud computing was the only option without taking out massive loans.
When might cloud computing not be the best choice?
EVAN: Security plays a huge role. The security levels in the cloud are improving greatly, but some industries’ security demands are such that on-premise server farms are still required. Also, if a company is global it must consider the varying security requirements of different countries.
Also, cloud computing for large organizations might be more expensive. In fact, there are companies moving from the public cloud to data centers. Perhaps the most prominent example is Dropbox—the storage service provider that got its start on AWS. Two years after moving most of its operations to data centers providing colocation services, Dropbox trimmed its operational expenses by $74.6 million. Although the company still stores about 10 percent of its data in the AWS cloud, the transition makes it clear that there is no single solution that is right for all companies.
Considering cloud computing from a CTO perspective, what are CTOs most concerned about?
EVAN: Cost is a huge factor, especially if you are bootstrapped. Functionality and security are also major concerns. CTOs must continually question whether a new initiative on a public cloud is feasible without setting up some crazy sophisticated pipeline.
There is a constant need to ensure understanding between the CTO and development team. How much will it cost? Can we do what we are trying to do on a public cloud? Because there are now highly specialized roles in cloud computing, what type of talent will we need?
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