The Dedicated Dilemma

By Dan Nichols on 1st August, 2016.

Why Move To The Cloud?

Cloud hosting is increasingly the go-to choice for the majority of businesses. However, if your business is currently on a dedicated platform, the idea of pushing that metaphorical button to move to the cloud may feel daunting to say the least. After all, it’s a major business decision, and one that requires careful consideration.

With this in mind, I’ve pulled together some of the most compelling business benefits for multi-tenant cloud hosting, versus dedicated solutions. I’ll discuss security, performance, scalability, level of control and more. So by the end of this article, you’ll be in a better position to face that dilemma – to move to the cloud, or not – with some of the key information you need.

If you’re evaluating a move to a private cloud, I’ll discuss the differing benefits of those solutions in a separate article.

Sticking to Tradition

Today, dedicated platforms are often referred to as traditional physical infrastructure, and there are certainly some benefits. In broad strokes, many companies feel they know where they are with this kind of platform. It’s tried and tested, the benefits and drawbacks well explored.

If you currently have dedicated services on site, then the cloud presents a number of immediate benefits, over and above those functional improvements I will talk about below.

1. Removing CAPEX – If you’re buying and hosting your own platform internally you’ve incurred large CAPEX costs buying and then subsequently upgrading your equipment over time. If you want to add more resource, you’re faced with ‘lumpy’ costs as you add new servers, storage or security devices. You will also need to pay to power and cool the equipment, as well as your internet connectivity.

2. Infrastructure – Cloud (or even dedicated, managed by a provider) is hosted within data centre facilities with resilient power, cooling and connectivity. They are also secure and manned 24/7 to ensure no unauthorised access to the equipment within. Only the most sophisticated internal hosting setups will be able to match the multi-million-pound investment a data centre provider has channelled into their facilities to create the ideal environment for hosting platforms.

3. Keeping IT Focused – Managing, maintaining and updating internal hardware and software can be a huge drain on IT time, taking their focus away from more valuable activities that could be moving the business’s agenda forwards. With your platform hosted externally, you are paying someone else to take partial or full responsibility for this maintenance, keeping your IT team focused on your key priorities.

If you use a service provider, you remove any CAPEX investment, allowing you to rent your hardware in order to avoid costly up-front lump sums. Maintenance costs are taken care of by your service provider, keeping things nice and simple. You should have reliable, resilient internet connectivity, secure data centre facilities, with the latest cooling and power equipment. So why switch? Surely this ticks all the right boxes?

Why Choose the Cloud?

What are the business advantages of moving to the cloud? What can it do that a dedicated platform can’t? To answer this, here are some of the key business benefits as I see them:

1. It’s Flexible – Imagine hosting infrastructure with resource levels tailor-made for your business. With modern multi-tenant platforms, you can add and remove resources with just a few clicks – no long installation of additional physical servers or storage.

2. You Pay For What You Need – This can take a number of different forms. Resource-based pricing lets you set the resource levels you need up-front, only paying for those resources. You are then free to add or reduce them in-line with your requirements. Pay-as-you-go, metered models let you consume the resource you need, paying for your usage at the end of the month – think AWS and Azure. Again, flexibility is the name of the game. Rather than paying for dedicated hardware when you want to add resource (and that may not be utilised fully, you can simply increase capacity or usage as and when you need to.

3. Rapid Scaling – When you can add and remove resources at the click of a button, you can scale up or down rapidly, responding to peak periods for your application or website. Simply add capacity when you’re expecting more traffic, and dial it down when it gets quieter.

4. It’s Highly Available – If your physical (on-site or hosted), hardware fails, you’ll need to replace a unit – this takes time and for a lot of businesses, this downtime also costs money. In contrast, many cloud platforms* are highly available by design, with some offering automatic failover capabilities at the virtualisation layer, reducing any disruption caused by unavoidable technical problems. For example, the Secura Virtual Private Cloud has N+1 redundancy throughout the platform, network and data centre infrastructure. This level of redundancy would be extremely expensive on a traditional dedicated platform, not to mention multiple internet, cooling and power backups if you host on your own site.

*It is worth checking if any prospective cloud platform you are evaluating is highly available as standard or if this needs to be added at additional cost. For self-service, hyper-scaling platforms (AWS, Azure, Google etc.), you will need to architect high availability into your application and over provision resources to tolerate failure without reduction in performance.

Dispelling the Myths

It’s important to first state that the new ‘cloud’, such as the Virtual Private Cloud, counters some of the older dedicated vs. cloud arguments. However, there may still be some other apprehensions or uncertainties, such as:

1. Contended Resources – some multi-tenanted clouds suffer from contention issues, causing problems for businesses with ‘noisy neighbours’, or users whose applications monopolised resources, which led to performance issues for others. Well designed and operated cloud infrastructure services have engineered out such performance compromises, making noisy neighbours a thing of the past.

2. Security – When cloud first started to gain widespread popularity and traction within enterprise, many people were concerned about their applications, systems and data being housed alongside other customers within the same cloud infrastructure. This concern has been dispelled by a combination of enhanced virtualisation software that segregates customers, ensuring that each platform within cloud infrastructure is distinct and highly secure, and a wider understanding and in-depth knowledge of how cloud platforms work.

3. Cost – will cloud hosting cost you more? It’s a fair question. When cloud was first introduced on a large scale, the cost could be higher than equivalent dedicated solutions, but as with any technology, the costs have decreased significantly over time as it has become more established. In addition, modern metered and usage-based resource models mean you only have to pay for what you use or need. To put this into real world terms, at Secura, we’ve been known to save a dedicated user up to 50% on their monthly bill with a cloud solution with an improved specification and performance.

So What Now?

Is your interest piqued? Now you know some of the top-line benefits and have an insight into what modern cloud platforms can do, it still doesn’t mean switching from your dedicated platform is an easy decision. Many of your questions will remain unanswered. For many businesses, the logistics of making the change are the most daunting.

It’s true that switching to the cloud will demand additional resource from your internal team to make that change. However, modern technology and detailed planning can make the migration process smooth and relatively hassle free. Every business is unique, and if a more involved approach is required, service providers can provide support and advice to ensure a smooth transition.

Toe Dipping

Perhaps a good way to start, if you’re curious but slightly hesitant, is with a free 14-day trial. Many providers offer this option to give you the freedom to test drive their cloud without making that big commitment straight away. If this sounds like the right approach for you, and you’d like to try the Secura VPC, sign-up for a free trial today or contact us and we will get you up and running.

Dan Nichols

Chief Technical Officer

As Secura's CTO, Dan is responsible for the team that design, build and maintain our cutting edge cloud hosting infrastructure. He is also the dishwasher police - stack it or else.

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