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The three most popular public cloud misconceptions

The public cloud is becoming increasingly popular: according to the Bitkom Cloud Monitor, 35 percent of German companies were already using applications from a "public data cloud" in 2018, and a further 28 percent planned to do so in the future.
Hansjörg Groß, T-Systems
February 21, 2020
[shutterstock.com: 1344587018, MarcoVector]
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The main arguments for IT decision-makers are faster scalability of IT resources, mobile access to them, higher performance and more flexibility. At the same time, the companies also expect lower IT costs and less administrative effort from the use of the public cloud.

But what is the real truth behind these supposed benefits? Does the public cloud deliver what German CIOs generally expect of it? It is time to take a critical look at a few points. Here are the three most popular misconceptions about the public cloud:

Misconception 1: Public cloud is always the cheapest choice

Yes, it's true: Public clouds are a cost-effective solution for IT infrastructure, but that only applies under certain circumstances. Hyperscalers such as Amazon, Microsoft or Google, for example, advertise that users only have to pay for what they actually use, keyword "pay as you go".

For training systems, for example, or other capacity expansions that are only needed for a short time, this payment model is also very attractive. For SAP applications that are in use 24/7, however, the situation is quite different. In this case, the public cloud can quickly become a cost trap.

No one would even think of booking a cab for continuous use. This is only the method of choice for short trips. So-called "reserved resources" are often the more cost-effective solution for 24/7 workloads.

But shadow IT with hidden, partly unused applications that have been transferred unquestioningly to the public cloud can also drive up costs. This is why a transparent, individual calculation is indispensable in order to determine the really most favorable solution for the respective workload.

This should always be calculated as a function of the expected uptime. It may turn out that a combination of different cloud solutions, i.e. a multicloud, is the ideal solution in a specific case. Cost optimizer tools can provide useful services here.

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Misconception 2: The public cloud runs by itself

That's also true: Public clouds have a convenient automation layer, so the hyper-scalers have done a really good job. But the complexity of a data center still remains.

What do I mean by that? Computing power, networks, firewalls, storage space - all these resources can be put together at first glance with just a few clicks via the cloud's web console. There are also a number of useful additional services and microservices that users can use to create applications very easily.

Plug-and-play is a misconception, however. The individual components must also be assembled in the right order and with the right parameters. It is not enough to be able to communicate with the machines via interfaces, you also have to know how to use them correctly.

Despite all the automation, experts with the appropriate know-how are therefore still needed who understand how to implement and orchestrate everything correctly. Standardized infrastructure templates can help here, but even these must first be designed on the basis of expertise.

Misconception 3: The public cloud is easily accessible via the Internet

Yes, the management console and the API of the public cloud are easy to operate via the web. This means that many functions can be administered via a normal Internet connection. But it is still not easy to access the public cloud from the company network.

Because a public cloud is actually like having your own data center. And for good reasons, the virtual machines are not easily accessible via the Internet:

For example, firewalls, encryption and a de-militarized zone (DMZ) are essential to protect the virtual machines in the public cloud. As a rule, virtual machines are therefore also only deployed with a private IP address.

In addition, the public cloud VPC must be connected to the corporate network so that the cloud services provided can be integrated smoothly into the IT landscape. Most corporate networks only open the http and https ports, the rest of the data traffic is blocked and is not allowed to leave the network.

Therefore, to reach the services hosted in a public cloud, a trusted network connection must be established. This can be an Internet VPN or another dedicated network connection.

Unfortunately, there is no ready-to-use solution for integrating the public cloud into the corporate network. Every user must therefore ask themselves: Where is the public cloud that I want to use? And how do I integrate it securely into my network?

This also requires expertise. A public cloud is only secure if it has been configured securely. Otherwise, unintentional security gaps could open the door to hackers.

Conclusion

The public cloud should not be approached too naively; it is not a foregone conclusion either. But if you pay attention to a few things and set them up properly with the help of experts, a public cloud - possibly in combination with other cloud models - actually offers a number of advantages.

https://e3mag.com/partners/t-systems-international-gmbh/
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Hansjörg Groß, T-Systems

Hansjörg Groß is Senior SAP Cloud Portfolio Architect at T-Systems.


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