Hundreds of service providers are looking to implement a multi-tenant public cloud environment every year and the most common question for all of them is; do I try and build this myself or find a vendor to partner with?
Service providers typically have tech savvy staff with the confidence and know-how to build out complex compute environments and successful service providers have been doing this on some scale for years. Building a public cloud environment, however, is at the far range of most IT staff’s ability. The scale is bigger than other projects they typically implement and the risks are too great. In this blog post, I will point out the 6 most common complexities and risks associated with building a public cloud environment.
Integration is one of the more complex pieces of building customer facing public cloud solutions as each components needs to work together seamlessly. Building the physical portion of the cloud such as the networking, compute and storage is the easy part. Integrating the orchestration, usage and billing, support/ticketing, admin and end user interface, product catalog etc. is the complex part that take times and where you could benefit from partnering with a cloud solution provider.
Building a system internally would mean you have to fuse several open source solutions together to address these areas. But how do you guarantee these components will work with one another and how much time will it take to develop an end-to-end solution? Are you willing to invest the time, resources and take the risk? Or is there an easier way?
As a service provider another concern when implementing your own cloud solution is management. Now that you have the pieces in place, you have to manage it effectively. Building a cloud solution by integrating multiple vendors, you will notice management is complex. For example you may have different portals such as:
virtual machine management
usage and metering
network operations center
system ticketing and support
Administration and management of these items aren’t easy and they become even more complex as your public cloud environment scales to include multiple zones, locations, cloud types and different hypervisors.
One thing to consider in administration is how much access you want to give to end users. There are typically two types of public cloud environments: self-service and managed service. Each has its own requirements when building your environment and feature unique management tools. Understanding your go-to-marketing strategy beforehand will help you identify the tools you need.
As you build your cloud solution, keep the future in mind. Technology is rapidly changing and keeping up with this change key to your success. Your business cannot be confined to any single technology. Will your company to be able to adapt and leverage new technologies as they arrive? Defining your solution via API’s and abstraction will allow your company to be nimble as new features and functionality come to market.
If you build it, you will need to support and maintain it over time for your end users. The cloud is like any other IT project in that you are investing for the long term. Adding cloud is now a core competency to your business and you must make sure you have a sustainable team to manage and support your cloud now and into the future.
If you do build a solution from open source software or multiple vendors, support becomes even more difficult as you have to coordinate issues between all of them. Defects are not the only case of triage; regular updates and releases inject compatibility issues throughout your overall solution.
Time to Market
Time is finite; will you be able to build and deliver your solution in time to maximize demand? On average building a public cloud can take anywhere from 9 -12 month to complete with a devoted cloud team. Over the course of implementation, many factors could play into the evolution of your business model including:
Technology changes that will may affect your design
Market demand could evolve that would impact your product offerings
Competition could arise making it harder for you to differentiate
Weighing the priority of your business objectives is paramount to the decision of taking on a project of this magnitude. Make sure to ask yourself if building public cloud internally is the right solution. Is your team equipped to take on such a task? Do they have the time with all of the other projects on their plate? These considerations are vital to the build vs buy decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Cloud is complex and building a public cloud from scratch involves preparation, time, resources and much more. Partnering with a single cloud vendor will give you an integrated solution that leverages existing hardware and is flexible enough to adopt future technologies. Make sure they can support the public cloud and deploy your cloud quickly to capture the market and allow you team to focus on their core competencies.
photo credit: Toni Blay