Author: Maureen Bagley, CTO of Speedeon

“Rows and flows of angel hair, And ice cream castles in the air, And feather canyons everywhere! I’ve looked at clouds that way.” – Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

Speedeon has been successful in building a robust architecture on cloud platforms for many years. We have been recognized for successful deployments of HR and CRM Software as a Service. Our most recent accomplishment has been replacing our aging storage and compute hardware with Infrastructure as a Service. We have also upgraded to modern database technologies utilizing Platform as a Service.

“Cloud” is the delivery of computing services through the internet – servers, storage, networking – to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. In the past, we made large capital investments in hardware. We would forecast the amount of computing, memory, storage that we would need for the future business requirements, double or triple it, buy it once, install it in a datacenter, and ride out the investment. With Cloud infrastructure, we were anticipating the flexibility and scalability of servers and storage, eliminating the guesswork about buying “big enough” for future demand. What we have witnessed during our transition and the weeks since has confirmed our expectations and also illuminated some unexpected Cloud Shapes.

Cost Savings

Though we had been warned about variable and exploding costs, what we’ve actually seen are cost reductions.

  • We have upgraded to faster machines, at a cost savings. The cloud provider wants us to run on the most current versions and provides discounts and incentives to get there. 
  • With Platform as a Service, we are able to scale our database processing units up and down based on workloads. When there is little activity, we scale down to lowest unit and achieve associated savings.
  • Reserved instances. After running a stable environment for a period of time, we have been able to analyze usage and identify the resources that we are willing to commit to for an extended period. Instead of pay-as-you-go, we reserve some resources for a year or three years, trading our commitment for significant cost savings.

Flexible, speedy and purpose driven provisioning

When adding a new resource to support an application, we start small, test, adding compute and memory in increments, landing on what we need and only as much as we need. The new resources are available for use within minutes. The ability to quickly add a test machine to troubleshoot “ghost in the machine” issues has also saved us valuable time.

Security and Compliance

Perhaps the biggest shape has been taking advantage of additional tools and best practices for security when designing, deploying and managing our cloud solutions. Further, the cloud provider has various industry and security certifications ensuring compliance to regular audits.

A cautionary tale about Subscription types Partner vs. Customer Managed

If your final goal is to manage your own cloud infrastructure, it may not be a good idea to begin with a subscription model through a partner. After deploying a broad spectrum of resources under a Partner subscription, we were unable to move to Customer Managed unless we would commit to a series of difficult steps to unravel and rebuild. Ultimately, we decided to stay within the Partner subscription ecosystem.  

Like Joni Mitchell wrote and Judy Collins also sang so beautifully, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now”. Despite some skepticism of cloud illusions, all of us at Speedeon Data are thrilled with how things are shaping up in the cloud!