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Is Cloud-first really a panacea?

Srinivas Patnaik
Sep 28, 2023

How modern enterprises can effectively navigate Cloud adoption and repatriation strategies – no matter where they are on their transformation journeys

In recent years, a cloud-first approach has emerged as the go-to strategy for organizations looking to modernize and optimize their IT infrastructures. The adoption of Cloud services by Fortune 500 companies has surged significantly – driven by the allure of scalability, reduced infrastructure costs, and heightened agility. The impressive revenue growth of the top three hyperscale Cloud providers further reinforced this trend.

Nonetheless, amid the euphoria, not everyone found themselves on cloud nine. The year 2021 saw venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz fire the first shot – garnering considerable attention with an article that challenged the widely-held belief that Cloud adoption was a universal panacea. By analyzing the financial performance of various software companies (including Dropbox), they questioned the sustainability of Cloud’s advantages when business growth slows.

The Dropbox case, which showcased substantial savings and improved margins after repatriating workloads, served as a compelling example. The article also extended its scope to highlight how Cloud’s impact on profit margins could lead to potential losses in market capitalization – amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars. The takeaway was clear – Cloud costs should take center stage as a primary metric – and companies should explore optimization, repatriation, and hybrid strategies to manage the intricate balance of Cloud costs and benefits.

In 2022, Basecamp entered the arena with a public endorsement of repatriation – sharing their first-hand experience with Cloud adoption. Their verdict was that Cloud services – while advantageous for simple applications and sporadic workloads – do not necessarily deliver the promised savings for medium-sized companies with stable growth like theirs. The touted benefits of reduced complexity were overshadowed by significant costs that could have been mitigated by in-house management at a fraction of the price. Basecamp’s argument against overselling Cloud advantages resonated in their call for a more decentralized Internet future, which could be achieved through self-managed hardware.

Fast-forward to 2023 – and a hybrid IT landscape is emerging as the prevailing reality. F5’s report on The State of Application Strategy underscores that organizations of all kinds are adopting hybrid strategies – distributing workloads between public clouds and on-premises infrastructure. The debate over Cloud versus on-premises solutions remains unsettled. As organizations grapple with the decision of adopting the Cloud or repatriating to on-premises solutions, they find themselves navigating a complex terrain that’s rife with implications for IT budgets and performance. However, organizations can start assessing and reviewing their Cloud migration or repatriation efforts by carefully considering the following aspects.

Enterprises embarking on their Cloud journeys

For enterprises embarking on their Cloud journeys, an evaluation of application suitability is paramount. Lessons from Basecamp’s experience offer valuable insights into assessing Cloud adoption proposals against the specific business context of applications. Applications with limited growth potential might not justify the return on investment for Cloud adoption. The reality remains that numerous organizations continue to host critical applications on-premises due to technical, regulatory, and economic considerations. Opting out of Cloud migration when ROI is unclear is a legitimate approach.

Cloud assessment often designates certain applications as prime candidates for “Lift and Shift” – the process of moving applications to the Cloud without extensive modifications. However, organizations should scrutinize this approach, as it might sacrifice the full spectrum of Cloud-native features and optimizations. While this method facilitates quick migration, it tends to perpetuate inefficiencies and complexities, leading to elevated costs and limited scalability. Deciding between rearchitecting and Lift and Shift should hinge on the long-term strategic significance and growth potential of applications.

Enterprises that have already embraced the Cloud

For enterprises that have already embraced the Cloud and are now assessing the overall benefits, a focus on Financial Operations (FinOps) is crucial. FinOps aligns technical and financial teams to manage Cloud costs, monitor usage, and make informed decisions to achieve cost efficiency and budget control. By analyzing the Cloud bill, organizations can uncover instances of suboptimal migrations and identify resource inefficiencies. This insight paves the way for migration strategy re-evaluation, application rearchitecting, and adherence to Cloud resource management best practices.

Repatriating workloads warrants careful consideration – especially for workloads characterized by predictability, stable usage patterns, or specific compliance and security needs. This process involves a meticulous analysis of workload requirements, infrastructure readiness, and potential operational shifts. Repatriation empowers organizations to regain control over resources, curtail Cloud-related expenses, and tailor infrastructure to exact business needs.

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) could also be an essential companion on repatriation journeys. The symbiotic relationship between SRE practices and Cloud repatriation underscores their significance. The proliferation of SRE practices – initially conceived by a Cloud provider like Google – emphasizes their role in efficient Cloud infrastructure management. SRE operations seem to facilitate workload repatriation while sustaining cost savings and operational efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation emerge as pivotal enablers when organizations transition back to on-premises data centers. AI holds the potential to optimize data center performance through real-time data analysis and machine learning algorithms. This translates to enhanced power consumption efficiency, improved capacity planning, effective resource allocation, augmented security through anomaly detection, and automated cooling and power systems. AI-driven solutions align with sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals while also enhancing efficiency, cost reduction, and overall data center performance. These are all significant incentives for on-premises alternatives.

Effectively navigating your Cloud adoption and repatriation strategy with Capgemini

Organizations must approach Cloud adoption and repatriation decisions pragmatically and harness the wisdom garnered from years of Cloud migration. Tailoring choices to individual business and technical contexts while eschewing dogmatic thinking remains pivotal.

With a wealth of experience in delivering optimal Cloud migrations, Capgemini’s mature Cloud advisory practice and Cloud Modernization with ADMnext offering are primed to assist organizations in making these pivotal decisions. To learn more about how Cloud Modernization with ADMnext can help you chart your course through the ever-evolving Cloud landscape, drop me a line below.

Meet the author

Srinivas Patnaik

ADM Solutions Leader
As a Lead Solution Architect, I drive ADM deals as part of Capgemini’s Portfolio Solutions team. I orchestrate solutions across multiple towers and bring together the best and relevant offerings to craft compelling propositions for our customers. I’m passionate about helping customers optimize and modernize their application portfolios.