By Vinay Kumar, senior vice president, Oracle
Bring your present and build your future on the same cloud platform
Given all the talk about cloud computing, you might think that all business workloads are already running in a cloud. You would be mistaken.
While new applications are naturally born in the cloud, older applications can be challenging to migrate, and many remain in companies’ own server rooms or data centers. Companies should not have to make the choice between sacrificing existing applications and building for the future.
Since the majority of workloads have yet to move to the cloud, here are five things all companies should consider as they make their IT deployment plans.
The bulk of these on-prem workloads are the complicated-but-important applications that run a company’s business. The term “mission critical” is no misnomer for the manufacturing, inventory, and financial software packages that pay the bills. If a migration of even one of these workloads goes awry, there will be a very real negative impact on the company’s bottom line. And the challenges can persist, as companies work to run, maintain and secure legacy applications in the cloud.
Early cloud providers tried to bypass that issue by telling customers to rewrite (or “refactor”) these applications to run on first-generation clouds. That’s a hard sell for C-level executives who don’t want to get caught up in technology wars and who realize that these applications still power the business. Why throw them out if they work?
The good news is that Oracle built its next-generation cloud to run these applications in their current state while also endowing them with the cloud benefits of scale-up-and-down capacity and price flexibility.
Moving on-prem applications to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), while not as jarring as rewriting them for another cloud, still requires expertise and support. Oracle Cloud Lift Services, a free program launched recently, will help companies get their deployments done smoothly. New businesses can also lean on engineering talent from Oracle for Startups, which provides support from engineers experienced in building, testing and running nascent products on OCI.
Location, location, location
In cloud as in real estate, location matters. A lot. So, the fact that we are able to quickly deploy full-featured cloud regions is an advantage and an important differentiator for Oracle and our customers. Not every company, or even region, has the acreage or wherewithal for massive scale-out data centers.
“Data sovereignty” laws enacted in several countries impose requirements on the location of some data. In some cases not only must user data be stored locally, it cannot be transmitted through servers in any other country — even if its final destination is another domestic cloud region.
Most large corporations operate in many countries, and bear the burden of adhering to countless local requirements. These companies clearly need a cloud provider that has a vast network of in many countries, accommodating all sovereignty requirements. Towards that end, there are now 33 Oracle Cloud regions with 11 more on the drawing board to launch by the end of 2022.
But this location metric is not just about geography. Lots of companies in certain industries — financial services, medical, pharmaceutical, and education, among them — are also constrained by regulations on how their data is stored and processed.
Flexibility of deployment options is as important as geographical agility. Many companies — including in the industries mentioned above — would like to run some applications and keep some data in facilities that are fully under their control, while also using public cloud resources for other corporate tasks.
Providing organizations in these markets with their own cloud regions is a unique advantage offered by Oracle Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer.
These customers can run the exact same services in their private clouds as they run in public cloud deployments, whereas some of the first-generation cloud providers only offer subsets of their services. Deploying Cloud@Customer gives businesses an elegant way to maintain consistent operations, upgrade legacy applications, reduce costs, and meet demanding data residency and latency requirements. For enterprise SaaS applications, including Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications, this means customers can run apps closer to home, decreasing latency, resulting in faster response times. Oracle achieves service parity across private and public cloud — which is a key requirement for running a truly hybrid cloud implementation and something that industry leaders have advocated for years.
Choice as to where given workloads run and where their associated data are stored is an important business requirement. But cloud providers ought to offer a certain amount of guidance to help customers avoid making costly mistakes in their cloud deployment.
Typically, when there is news about a major breach of a cloud-based workload, it is attributed (by the cloud vendor) to “user error:” the customer — not the vendor — left its cloud storage buckets unprotected by failing to turn on encryption, or by leaving ports open.
This is the sort of freedom customers would love to do without. Most businesses would be happy if their cloud provider offered guardrails to avoid costly mistakes like this. With Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, encryption and other security safeguards are activated by default.
And instead of providing a patchwork of discrete, confusing, and sometimes overlapping security tools, OCI offers a built-in set of security capabilities. Thus customers don’t have to piece their defenses together by hand. In addition, businesses can also choose to implement security options over time at their own pace, based on what works best for their current environment and future plans.
In addition, use of Oracle Autonomous Database technology means the infrastructure updates itself in near real time without requiring a phalanx of human administrators to manually track and respond to the latest security vulnerabilities.
Cloud service prices
In cloud computing, cost isn’t everything, but it’s pretty darn important. That’s why prospective customers really must look at cost options up front for all key services including compute, storage and networking. Outbound networking charges, in particular, have been a sore point for many, many early cloud customers. These “data egress” charges accrue when data is shipped out of a given cloud to the Internet and beyond.
Virtually no cloud player charges for data streaming into its cloud from customers, but one first-generation provider notoriously starts the meter running after one GB of data ships out per month to the internet. Those dollars add up incredibly fast, leaving many customers shell shocked because they probably didn’t realize — or could not predict — how much data they might transfer at some point in the future.
OCI, on the other hand, starts charging only after 10 TB of data ships out. This means our customers can transfer 10,000 times as much data with OCI as they could with the other provider, without paying a cent. In addition, Oracle has recently teamed up with the Cloudflare-led Bandwidth Alliance of 19 tech companies that aim to minimize the cost of data egress. This is a huge step forward for cloud customers.
Cloud is growing up
While the cloud computing era is still young, it is showing signs of maturity. The technology is getting better and more services are coming online. This is good news for the thousands of businesses still evaluating the best cloud for their existing and future workloads.
There are now a handful of top-tier players in cloud, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Many businesses realize that reliance on a single cloud infrastructure provider is neither wise nor practical, and are opting for a multi-cloud approach. Working with multiple cloud vendors allows organizations to select the right cloud for each important workload, scale up and down as needed, and make the most of each vendor’s cost structures.
If businesses carefully consider these five factors in their selection process, chances are their deployment will be less disruptive, less stressful, and more productive than it would have been otherwise.