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Cloud-busting – is the cloud really the inexpensive option?
We are big fans of the cloud. We provide bare-metal performance – fast and powerful – with the flexibility of the cloud, so are firm believers in all the cloud can offer an organisation. But we also feel that many providers have been guilty of perpetuating myths about cloud benefits, particularly around price. The volume of the data generated by both consumers and businesses is astonishing and this data must be accommodated somewhere. Is it realistic to assume that the cloud can cope with it all and if not, then who will pick up the tab for the enterprise-grade storage required to host it all?
Last year Gartner predicted that the average household will have 3.3 terabytes of data by 2016 and that worldwide consumer digital storage needs will have grown to 4.1 zettabytes in 2016. These are mine-bogglingly numbers even without factoring in the data that businesses are generating and needing to store. But the question that most interests me, is who will pay for all this storage?
Free cloud storage?
Consumers can currently get decent amounts of cloud storage completely free of charge and with businesses, cloud is still seen very much as the cheaper option. But if Gartner is even remotely accurate in its predictions, then the cloud will struggle to store that data for free or even at a reduced price.
Cloud storage is not a question of utilising a few cheap hard drives, it involves some serious hardware, which is usually used by the biggest enterprises. As you might expect, such hardware does not come cheap and furthermore it is kept in a high-end data centre and managed by a bunch of well-paid staff. So free cloud storage cannot continue if the volume of data keeps increasing at the rate it is. This will mean that for both consumers and businesses, the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of the cloud will one day be a thing of the past.
The real cost benefit that comes from deploying the cloud is of course, the flexibility of pricing, not the actual cost. The ability to scale up or down without being tied into long-term contracts is very appealing to many businesses, particularly smaller enterprises. The idea of paying for a fixed number of users for a fixed period of time seems archaic now. If you want to add users for a short-term project then why on earth should an organisation pay for any more than that?
The same is true with infrastructure. We built our bare metal, high-performance computing infrastructure very much with big data in mind. We wanted to provide an environment with enough computing power to process large volumes of data in real-time – virtual environments are simply not fast enough to do this – so took the step of removing the hypervisor.
But we understand that many big data queries, such as testing out a hypothesis over a database with billions of entries, might only require high speed processing for a limited amount of time. So we introduced a pay-per-use pricing structure which means customers pay only for the processing power they actually need and can even pay-per-hour if required.
The cloud has brought many enormous benefits to businesses, whether software, platform or infrastructure. But the idea that it is the cheaper option, certainly in the long-term, is little more than a fallacy.