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Is it time to place more emphasis on the destination, rather than on the journey?

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Adrian Cooper
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The “journey to cloud” continues to dominate the agenda in most public sector organisations. It is a key architectural tenet of digital transformation and is seen as the principal way to remove the burden of legacy technical debt.

After nearly a decade of effort, evidence from commercial frameworks such as G Cloud and the recently awarded Cloud Compute agreement shows a considerable—and growing—level of investment. So is it now time to place more emphasis on the destination, rather than on the journey?

Why do I ask this? As more and more services are deployed in the cloud (by which I mean predominantly the major hyperscale providers such as AWS and Azure), the focus is shifting to disciplines such as CloudOps and FinOps. These functions play a key role to in ensuring that waste is minimised and that consumption costs are kept under control – as do the architects who determine which services are deployed to meet the needs of the business.

This matters because unlike fixed-term, fixed-cost contracts, cloud resources are consumed and paid for on demand. There is a very real temptation to overprovision, especially for new or migrated services; and ongoing monitoring of utilisation is required to ensure that the underlying infrastructure is right-sized.

There is also a strong temptation to consider this only from a compute perspective. Whilst it is true that compute is typically the single largest line item of expenditure, the impact of storage should not be forgotten – especially since it typically represents about 20% to 25% of average cloud costs. With data volumes forecast to continue growing at an accelerated pace, this figure is only likely to increase.

Reducing costs

So what can be done to contain (or even reduce) this expenditure?

First, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that there are a growing number of cloud storage options available, each suited to different data types and use cases, including those available from specialists such as NetApp. By ensuring that services are deployed using the most appropriate storage service, considerable benefits can be realised – and not only in financial terms.

By way of example, we have been working with several UK public sector bodies that have migrated file data to Azure and subsequently deployed NetApp® Cloud Volumes ONTAP®. That deployment has resulted in a return on investment in less than 12 months and ongoing savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds per year. In some cases, it also means that dozens of compute instances can be shut down, thereby also reducing cloud compute costs and administration burden.

Similarly, we have introduced data tiering capabilities across our portfolio to automatically move cold data to more cost-effective storage services. This can be accomplished for both data hosted on-premises and within the cloud, without requiring any change to applications. This capability, which is also inherent in Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, means that customers typically need to use expensive flash storage for only approximately 20% of their data, without compromising on performance or availability.

Cloud as a service

We have also been working in concert with all major cloud providers to deliver storage services that can be consumed “as a service” natively in the cloud, thereby removing the administration burden from customers. The aim is to simplify adoption and maximise the benefit of cloud economics whilst delivering the highest levels of data availability and performance. What’s more, these services don’t depend on NetApp systems being deployed on premises — although if this is the case, there is a high level of integration.

In a world full of generalists, we’re the cloud storage specialists. Wherever you are on your journey to cloud, we are here to help—from cloud-native to cloud-curious—get more out of cloud than they ever thought possible. Deliver data when, where, and how you need it with simplicity and consistency across environments. No wasted resources; lots of flexibility. From partnering with the big clouds to creating your data fabric, it’s part of our specialist DNA.

Our attention is not only restricted to storage, however. Over the last few years, we have been developing a portfolio of complementary solutions that combine analytics, guidance and automation to continuously optimise cloud infrastructure for every application. This can result in cost savings of up to 70% on cloud compute and storage infrastructure while maintaining service levels.

How do we know this? Because this service is delivered using innovative “success-based” commercial terms that establishes a baseline level of expenditure and a shared reward model for any subsequent savings realised. What’s more, there is very little effort needed on the part of customers, as these services are integrated directly “at source” and respond dynamically to application resource demands.

Learn more

We recognise that every organisation is at a different stage of their cloud journey and with differing levels of maturity in terms of their understanding of consumption economics. We believe we have the expertise and specialist focus to help make the journey easier and quicker for the next phase of adoption; and a unique set of offerings to maximise value once there.

To find out more, please get in touch or visit http://cloud.netapp.com

Adrian Cooper

Adrian Cooper is Field CTO for UK Public Sector for NetApp. In this role, he is responsible for developing technical relationships with customers and partners across the public sector to support them in their digital journeys. Adrian has recently been appointed to the Cloud Leadership Committee at TechUK and is looking forward to working with other members to shape TechUK’s cloud programme over the coming 2 years.

Adrian has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years, with the last 10 years spent at NetApp in a Senior Solutions Engineering management role. Prior to that, he held Director-level roles at Memorex Telex, EDS Global Field Services, a&o and Simplexo.

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