What Businesses Should Know About Hyper Scale Cloud Providers

Cloud technology has changed the landscape for businesses and their IT environments, becoming more widely available and adopted by organizations of all sizes. Despite the fact that Cloud (or off-site IT services) has been available for many years, companies still perceive the Cloud to be new and different. As the Cloud continues to evolve, it does become new in a way. New iterations of technology and delivery methods are constantly coming to market, creating an ever-changing environment that enterprise leaders and IT personnel must be aware of.

This is where the differentiation between hyper scale Cloud providers and private Cloud providers becomes very evident.

Hyper scale (or public) Cloud is a term given to solutions from large global technology providers (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, etc.) that can be sold in extremely large deployments in an instant. If this sounds familiar to you, it should - companies that subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite, or Amazon S3, are using services from a hyper scale Cloud provider.

The Biggest of the Big

In the current Cloud marketplace, there are several large hyper scale Cloud providers including Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, among others. Microsoft's Office 365 suite may represent the most well-known hyper scale Cloud solution. As this platform matures and adds new bundled services, it is increasingly rare to find on-premises email deployments. This type of hyper scale Cloud offering provides many benefits to the end-user, especially with Microsoft's new focus of making the service available to anyone across all devices and platforms.

For Cloud-based IT infrastructure (IaaS), Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM solutions are able to provide flexible, on-demand consumption models for IT workloads. While these solutions can be great for certain uses, there are several factors that enterprise leaders need to be aware of concerning what they may be signing up for.

The System of 9s

Business leaders are likely familiar with the common IT terms that include a variable number of "nines" - three nines, four nines, five nines. These terms are related to the assertion from a Cloud provider that a system has the ability to stay up for a guaranteed amount of the time - 99.9%, 99.99%, 99.999%. At first glance, any one of these numbers can sound impressive, but there is additional work to be done to truly understand what these numbers actually mean and there is almost always more to the story than what you would expect.

The major point of consideration for companies considering using the public Cloud for production workloads must begin with tolerance for downtime. Let's take a quick look at what some of these numbers mean in context of an actual Cloud agreement.

Take, for example, the Amazon Web Services Elastic Capacity Cloud (EC2) service level agreement (SLA). It states that if there is a disruption in service that results in uptime between 99.95% and 99.0% in a given month, they will credit 10% of the month's service fees to the user's account. So let's run through some quick math:

  • 31 days in a month = 744 hours of production time
  • If your EC2 environment was down for 7.4 hours (99.0% uptime), you would qualify for 10% service credit
  • Since the SLA resets monthly, if this trend continued month over month, you could potentially experience nearly 90 hours (more than 3.5 days) of down time in a year, and would have paid only 10% less than full retail cost
  • Now, let's say you experienced 3 days of downtime in a single month, then you would receive a 30% service credit for that month's service and your SLA would reset to a clean slate the following month and you resume paying full price for your service

The takeaway here is that if an SLA is a representation of the quality of service you will be provided and the risk that your service provider is willing to assume, then AWS EC2 becomes a very risky proposition for business-critical production workloads (and a very safe service offering for Amazon). Businesses just cannot afford to lose valuable hours and days of production time - that is a direct hit to your bottom line.

The Production-ready Cloud

So if public Cloud offerings are not meant for business-critical workloads, is there another Cloud option that is? The answer is YES. InfoSystems Production-ready Cloud is an environment that was built for production workloads. This means that we can provide a much stronger SLA (99.99% annual uptime) to back up the quality of our service. If you do the math, you'll find that out of 8,760 hours in a year, we are guaranteeing less than 1 hour of downtime. Now, there are other factors that strengthen our Production-ready Cloud SLA over the public Cloud SLAs, but at the risk of becoming a sales pitch, we will leave this article where it is. The important point is that you evaluate your options so that you are fully aware of what you are getting before signing a contract.

What Is Public Cloud Good for?

To be clear, hyper scale Cloud offerings do provide a great value for various purposes. Development, testing, or non-critical applications might work just fine in a public Cloud environment. Of course, in our opinion, since our Production-ready Cloud is priced competitively with public Cloud offerings, we're not sure why you wouldn't use our Cloud for all your needs.

We have Cloud consultants available to answer your questions and even provide a Cloud Readiness Assessment free of charge. Chat with one of our specialists now without any fear of being pressured to make a decision.

Bonus Material

InfoSystems Marketing Director Josh Davis and Vice President Scott Davis recently recorded a few episodes of our The Business of Enterprise IT podcast related to the topic of our Production-ready Cloud.