Chris Corridoni, OneSky's Head of Development, shares his insights on public cloud offerings.
Questions always arise from larger customers about using on-prem installations vs. utilizing one of the major public cloud offerings out there. First, some definitions to put everyone on the same level.
When I state on-prem, some call this a private cloud. This usually entails some sort of virtualizing company-procured infrastructure. This infrastructure includes everything from the network switches and firewall software all the way down to the individual VMs created and maintained by the company's IT staff. Most larger organizations will have this type of configuration, and they are on the hook for upkeep and maintenance of the hardware as well as the facility that houses them (but this could also be done using some co-location services).
A public cloud is almost the opposite of private (as well as it should be, based on the name). Public cloud companies like Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) sell several services to host different types of applications and services. These services include simple storage to advanced quantum computing resources.
Many companies are looking to migrate their current software stacks to the cloud. Some are looking to cut costs in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Usually, when one has their own private cloud, there needs to be enough computing/memory/storage power to support the company’s stack during their highest traffic days. For some companies, this extra capacity sits unused for a large portion of the year. So the upkeep for this extra capacity costs money even when not in use.
But for some companies and government agencies, the move to a public cloud is not in the plan. This can be for many reasons, but for the ones that I have seen, it is more of a lack of education about the services that public cloud suppliers provide. Some of these agencies are likely sitting on a large amount of computing infrastructure in their data centers. When a move to a public cloud is brought up, the first question that usually comes up is, ‘What do we do with all of this infrastructure?” In my opinion, the savings that comes from a move to a public cloud outweigh the initial upfront cost of the migration.
For others, it’s not the cost of public cloud vs. private cloud. It comes down to security. When you control every aspect of your information security, you feel comfortable knowing you are in full control. And sometimes this sense of comfort comes back with a lack of security (everything is in our center, why the need for a ton of security?). Thoughts like this usually don’t end well.
Here are some potential misconceptions around public cloud offerings that could help influence anyone who might be on the fence regarding the public vs. private cloud debate.
My data/network is not secure
The cost is X times what it costs for on-prem
Cloud computing is only for startups, not for large organizations
1. My data/network is not secure
Everyone’s data is as secure as they configure the environment. For the most part, all of the services in a public cloud are extremely restrictive by default to ensure security out of the box. Most companies have their data stored in some flavor of a database. When reviewing the different database service offerings of the public cloud providers, all of the data that is stored in the DB is encrypted at rest (the data on the actual infrastructure cannot be read), as well as encrypted in transit. Once the data is being used in an application, it is up to the engineers and developers to ensure its security. This would be the same in any location (private or public cloud). When it comes to storage, the same configuration argument can be made. Your storage is as secure as it is configured.
In terms of security and security breaches, this usually comes down to either some incorrect ports being left open or a password that has been compromised. And these security breaches can happen in either location (private or public).
To ensure the highest level of security, all applications need to be designed with security in mind from the beginning. If there is a migration of workload to the cloud, the migration must include the inspection of all applications and workloads from a security perspective. If there are any security holes in the applications, these should be fixed (just as a normal practice).
Remember, having something hosted on the public cloud doesn’t automatically make it public!
2. The cost is X times what it costs for on-prem
Everyone’s financials are different, but for the most part, the less you spend on infrastructure, the more you can spend in other parts of the business. As mentioned above, for an on-prem infrastructure configuration, the system needs to have the amount of compute/memory/storage that the overall stack will need on the busiest day. Otherwise, the business will be unable to handle the increased traffic and load. This usually is where the additional cost will come into play. For all that hardware, there needs to be environmental controls around them (you don’t want your hardware overheating, right?), along with support in case something should happen. All of these costs do add up.
For public cloud providers, these additional underlying costs are added to the price per hour for their services. These public cloud providers usually employ large-scale economies, meaning they have already scaled out their infrastructure to support their customers’ busiest days. For customers, they only need to pay for the infrastructure that is needed at that current time. This is where the cost savings will really show on the bottom line: environments not running during off hours, full doubling of production environments during slow periods, etc.
3. Public Cloud is only for startups, not for large organizations
Public cloud is perfect for tech startups, mostly because the largest part of initial funding for new startups usually goes to infrastructure. But, when it comes to large-scale implementations, public cloud providers can be utilized by large organizations, benefiting from the same cost reductions that smaller organizations use. These larger organizations will benefit more based on the vast amount of compute that is necessary for them to be successful. And with the large amount of compute necessary comes even more cost savings.
There is a caveat to the savings that would be recognized: there is usually a migration plan that is needed for large organizations to take advantage of public cloud. Just like you can’t turn an aircraft carrier on a dime, the same goes for migrating large numbers of applications to the cloud. But, over time, the savings can be realized slowly over time.
As a cloud-first company, OneSky has designed and implemented a solution that takes advantage of multiple cloud services to deliver a world-class UTM application. Our use of these cloud services allows OneSky to show how our application can be deployed for individual customers and configure the application to increase its footprint when required and, when not required, shrink to not run up unnecessary costs.
When it comes to using public cloud, OneSky believes it is the best option for our customers and will work with each one to ensure that our system is as secure and optimized as possible.