Picking a public cloud? Think beyond AWS, Google, and Microsoft

No single cloud provider is likely to meet all your needs, so don't try to force-fit everything to one 'solution'

Picking a public cloud? Think beyond AWS, Google, and Microsoft

I often get this question: "Which public cloud should we go with?" That is, should the questioner's company go with Google, Microsoft, or, more likely, Amazon Web Services?

The right answer depends on many, many factors, and the answer is never a single public cloud platform. (Few people appreciate that response.)

What you should be after is an architecture, or what many people call a stack. Let's say you have 2,000 enterprise applications that, if moved to the cloud, will likely drive more value, such as reduced total cost of ownership or increased business agility.

In looking for the best platform for those 2,000 applications, you first need to realize that not all those applications will be right for the cloud -- at least, not now.

Second, you need to consider the patterns of the workloads, including processing, storage, security, governance, and communications.

Third, you need to understand how to back the right architecture, stack, or solution (whatever you want to call it) into your requirements.

Again, the answer to these questions is never simply AWS, Microsoft, or Google. It's much more complex, but much more valuable.

The target solution starts with a list of cloud services or other technologies that meet the requirements of most of your workloads. I say "most" because you can't fit all workloads into a single cloud service.

During the evaluation process, you have to understand that you're working from the general to the particular. In other words, even if a particular public cloud can solve the problems in general for the majority of the application workloads, you'll always have to deal with outliers using special instances that may not be a good fit for your standard cloud. That's OK.

What does this "solution" look like? It's an architecture that consists of the IaaS cloud platform that best meets your needs, but also includes the dev-test stack, data management, security, governance, and networking. Your preferred IaaS cloud for your general needs may be one or two of the Big 3 (AWS, Google, and Microsoft). But your special needs may be served by the Big 3 -- or, more likely, by other providers, depending on your actual needs.

The key is using some combination of the Big 3 providers where you can, but not force-fitting your specialty needs to them. Standard platforms are good, except when they don't actually deliver what you require. Thus, at the end of the day, your most likely cloud solution will be an eclectic mix of technology. 

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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