On the Way to Cloud 9

The recent hype around cloud computing begs the question, “Do I really need to make a move to the cloud?” – both for me as a tech professional, and for software businesses of all shapes and sizes. Today it seems obvious that soon in the future, all businesses will have to make this move. Unquestionable benefits in the form of cost efficiency, scalability and flexibility make the cloud indispensable for businesses and customers to adopt.

One summer morning in 2018, a former client’s on-site production server, with over 20 applications running on it, failed to respond. Various downstream services having taken a hit, my team had to chase down system administrators. After a full sleepless day of desperate but helpless phone calls, our team finally decided to check the server’s physical location. The cause of server failure turned out to be a short circuit at the site. The schedules of 200+ customers were disrupted for over 18 hours. The server infrastructure was ancient to say the least, and it simply gave up. So when we had the Board of Architects meeting a couple of days later, we were faced with two options:

1) Have a duplicate of all the servers so that the downtime would be minimum, or
2) Move to the cloud entirely, eliminating redundancy, susceptibility to outages and making the data more easily available.

Needless to say, we chose the latter. The client was extremely happy with the decision: applications became more reliable, and the reduction in costs was tremendous.

A pictorial view of how failover is handled in cloud (example of Azure).

Complete architecture:

If one application fails, the Traffic Manager will redirect the DNS to the working application:

If the primary database fails, traffic automatically gets redirected to the backup database, thus ensuring that there is no interruption to the web app.

Another client whose business experienced a sudden surge was staring at a problem with data storage; there was a humungous amount of data to be stored and secured, but the server was almost out of memory with no backup. As a platform advisor, I recommended that we make a move to the cloud. This move claimed near-unlimited cloud space, freed up in-house space and made the data readily accessible.

In addition to its role as a vehicle for greater flexibility, accessibility and reliability, one of cloud computing’s greatest merits is its cost efficiency. The pay-as-you-go model could potentially save business and companies a lot of cash. For e.g. the operational hours of Forbes (0900-1700hrs) makes expenditure on server resources during the rest of the day redundant and wasteful. Pay-as-you-go would save Forbes hundreds of thousands in unnecessary costs.

Here at Sky Solutions, we are currently hosting a PEGA web application on a cloud platform, with metadata stored on our native cloud database. Faced with a similar choice as above, we used a powerful TCO calculator which determined that we were saving as much as $193,900 over a span of 5 years by choosing to host our data on the cloud rather than atop on-site servers. Here is a quick summary:

We can potentially save even more by optimizing cloud usage and efficiency.

Cloud computing is clearly here to stay. It makes data handling and storage dramatically easier and cheaper for companies large and small, smoothens deployment of new applications, lowers costs and highly enhances flexibility compared to buying/building and managing your own data centers.

Reference site for images: Microsoft