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Stick or twist? Is it time to consider cloud repatriation?

Since public cloud services first emerged, businesses have seen their potential to reduce cost and increase flexibility. But as they looked to capitalise on cloud, the desire to quickly unlock benefits often leads to hurried decisions and a lack of thought as to whether cloud was genuinely the best choice. As a result, those organisations that rushed to the cloud are now finding that the benefits sought are not being delivered as expected. This has led to a growing trend of cloud repatriation across organisations of all sizes.

Cloud repatriation is when companies migrate their data away from the public cloud and back into private cloud or on-premises solutions. Just as businesses looked to the cloud in search of commercial and operational benefits, there are several reasons why those organisations may now want to extract their data and adopt an alternative approach. In this blog, we’ll delve into some of the common reasons for considering repatriation, and why a hybrid cloud model is now becoming the preference for many.

1. Unexpected costs challenge cloud commercials

In our recent blog, we suggested that cloud overspending could spark a strategic rethink for businesses, and there are a number of reasons why a business might review its cloud expenditure. Businesses develop and change over time, and subsequently don’t look the same today as when they first entered the public cloud. Cloud costs can also change as providers hike up fees, and the evolving demands of workloads and applications increase utilisation. Where public cloud may have been initially scoped as a cost-effective alternative, that may no longer be the case.

Additional costs such as those for data ingress and egress can also quickly see cloud expenses skyrocket, especially for organisations that want to retain a degree of flexibility over where their data lives at any given time as part of a multi-cloud approach. Costs also increase as a result of businesses failing to properly right-size ahead of migration. They have ‘lifted and shifted’ from on-prem to public cloud and ended up overprovisioning resources and overpaying as a result.

Ultimately, having moved to the cloud in search of better commercials, people are now spending more than anticipated in their cloud environment. Repatriation could offer a more cost-effective route, rather than making the investment to right-size and refactor data and applications already in the cloud.

2. Regain cloud control

The desire to regain control is another major driver for cloud repatriation. Becoming overly reliant on one or a small group of cloud providers can restrict your options and reduce your flexibility.

Organisations that have already migrated to the public cloud, especially those using hyperscalers, can very quickly start to feel the sting of vendor lock-in. Data egress charges and other unexpected costs can quickly add up when large volumes of data need to be migrated away from a particular cloud provider. To avoid this, businesses will instead choose to stick with their existing provider and the services they deliver, even if the experience is not as satisfactory as the one offered by alternatives. But sticking with a single provider only serves to further reinforce the feeling of vendor lock-in, particularly when the more data you entrust to a particular vendor, the greater the cost of exit will become. Additionally, long-term vendor lock-in presents additional security risks, as the overall protection and resilience of your data is tied to a single provider.

Ultimately, any cloud repatriation will see businesses incur the exit costs they are looking to avoid. But in the long-term, they gain greater control over their data. Whether they use on-premises hardware or a preferred co-location datacentre, they enjoy greater freedom to move their data as needed to meet the demands of specific workloads or capitalise on new innovations faster.

3. Security and compliance requirements

We’ve spoken before about some of the misconceptions that surround public cloud security. One commonly held belief is that when organisations migrate to the public cloud, they can trust that their data is properly secured and subsequently alleviate the burden on their own team. But while the public cloud is no more or less secure than any other infrastructure, the security of your environment is still very much the responsibility of your organisation. Understanding how to secure your data, coupled with the investment needed to do so effectively, can add to the cost and complexity of cloud management.

Access to public cloud environments must also be adequately protected. There are instances of cybercriminals stealing login credentials to public cloud environments and purchasing resources on an unsuspecting company’s tab, powering their own malicious activities. This is only identified when the bill comes, which is often a long time after the point of remediation.

As businesses face an increasingly diverse and sophisticated threat landscape, many are taking the view that their data and applications are better-protected on-premises than in the cloud. This is in part, driven by compliance demands and issues of data sovereignty. Many major cloud providers do offer specific geographical zones for data storage, but this still may not be enough to satisfy more rigorous standards.

The best of both worlds with hybrid cloud

When repatriation first emerged as a viable option for businesses, there were some predicting a mass exodus from cloud. That hasn’t come to fruition yet and isn’t likely to happen any time soon. The reality is that public cloud is still a hugely valuable tool for organisations, and there are plenty of strong arguments for retaining a presence with hyperscalers and other major cloud providers. Equally, as businesses wise up to the realities of their own cloud use, there are also plenty of instances where repatriation makes operational and financial sense. This is where a hybrid cloud approach comes into its own.

Hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds for businesses looking to realise the benefits of public cloud without repeating the mistakes of the past. With hybrid cloud, organisations can deploy their own private, on-premises IT infrastructure and continue to use public cloud resources as needed. With the right hybrid cloud environment in place, you can satisfy concerns over cloud expenditure, control and security, while continuing to access additional cloud capacity on a pay-as-you-go basis, supporting further innovation and increased demand.

Getting your strategy right

Regardless of the current make-up of your cloud environment, the process of repatriation is far from all or nothing. However, you can only fully realise the potential benefits when you make the right choices as to which applications and workloads to move, and which are best kept in the public cloud.

If you’re interested in exploring the options for repatriation, or want to learn more about how your business could benefit from a hybrid cloud approach, get in touch with the team.