Are you optimizing your cloud technology? Key considerations.

Like a carpenter's chisel, the cloud delivers the best results if you use it with care and skill.

By Danny Bradbury

Companies are adopting cloud technology quickly, but migration doesn’t stop when you flick on the switch. 

Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report found that four in five organizations use at least one private cloud deployment. Furthermore, the global private cloud server market size, which was valued at approximately $30 billion in 2018, is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 29.6% through 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research. 

This rising adoption of private cloud technology is due in part to a dawning realization among customers that the cloud is not a location, explains Adam Glick, senior director of portfolio marketing for APEX at Dell Technologies: It’s an experience. 

“What customers tell us they really want is the speed to do things quickly,” he explains. “They want to respond fast as market conditions change and they want the ability to innovate at speed.” 

These capabilities need not come from specific vendors in set locations, Glick says. For example, a software developer could get the virtual infrastructure they require to build and test large applications on demand; or an IT team could give storage and data access to the necessary line-of-business teams, enabling them to deliver fast results.

Organizations used to be only as strong as their weakest link. The cloud can help you break apart monolithic structures, empowering each group to move as quickly as it needs.

—Adam Glick, senior director of portfolio marketing for APEX, Dell Technologies

Programmable infrastructure combined with a shift from capital to operational expenditure makes resource allocation more fluid. This gives business units what they need to scale without limitations. “Organizations used to be only as strong as their weakest link,” he says. “The cloud can help you break apart monolithic structures, empowering each group to move as quickly as it needs.” 

Like any tool, however, the cloud works best when applied with skill and care. Optimizing your cloud usage takes planning and thought. Executing regular reviews of cloud operations to identify areas of improvement can help maintain alignment with business operations. 

The key considerations

Cloud experiences stretch from computing through to storage and networking, Glick reminds us. They range from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environments and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering command-line and console access to equipment. The cloud can house legacy monolithic applications in virtual machines or cloud-native microservices on Kubernetes. This is all to say: It’s important to know if you’re leveraging the right cloud technology. 

Meanwhile, companies should also review their entire cloud portfolio, Glick advises. IDC predicts that over 90% of companies will use multiple cloud and hybrid services by 2022 as they address challenges including a single point of failure and vendor lock-in. Multi-cloud also lets them take advantage of different cloud service providers’ strengths, allocating jobs on a per-workload, per-application basis. 

Optimizing that multi-cloud experience means managing those providers as one, Glick explains. “How do I bring that all together? How do I make sure that, by using best of breed, this doesn’t get incredibly complex? That’s where products designed to work across multi-cloud environments come into play. They give you a consistent experience across all of those service providers.” 

IT decision-makers should also be able to clarify their strategies when it comes to: 

1. Flexibility and scalability

Companies should ensure that their cloud service provider gives them the right level of flexibility to support their goals. The more dynamic your computing and storage needs, the more important it will be to configure resources easily. These requirements will vary by application. A company building a DevOps pipeline serving software updates to a fleet of edge computing devices will have different flexibility requirements to one building custom workflows with Office 365 applications. 

2. Security and hosting location

The cloud might be an experience, but the data it holds still resides somewhere. Companies should consider where their data is stored and evaluate who has access to it. Does it still make sense from a compliance perspective? Data sovereignty requirements can change based on the legal landscape and operating requirements. 

3. Cost management

Since the advent of the cloud, an entire discipline has emerged for managing its costs. This practice, called FinOps, is crucial for an optimal cloud strategy, says Glick, adding that budgeting for cloud usage and setting the right alert thresholds is important. 

“Ensure that you’re picking cloud experiences that give you the appropriate cost control and visibility,” he adds. “Cloud billing can be really complex so make sure you understand what you’ll be looking at. If you aren’t sure, ask a current customer to show you their bill so that you know what you’ll be dealing with.” 

4. Access

Finally, access security is an aspect of the cloud that is best managed during the design phase, Glick advises. Basic design measures include never using your root administrative account for cloud services. Adopting a least-privilege perspective will help avoid resources falling into the wrong hands. Managing those permissions via roles and groups rather than tying them to specific users will keep access controls agile and adaptable to personnel changes. 

As a senior director for Dell Technologies’ APEX IT service portfolio, Glick is excited about its ability to unify the cloud experience and make costs more manageable. 

“APEX offers a consistent experience across different cloud providers. It allows you to manage all of them from one place and in one way, so you don’t have to think about what’s happening with each cloud service underneath,” he says. “It also allows you to set a specified budget and know exactly what your bill is going to be every month.” 

Learn how you can optimize your cloud experience with APEX Cloud Services.