Cost and compliance deter users from public clouds


The cost of moving to the public cloud was among the hot topics discussed at the Nutanix Next conference in London.

In his opening presentation, Andrew Brinded, general manager, western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix, claimed 70% of enterprise workloads are better run in private clouds, which means only 30% are suitable for public cloud.

Nutanix argues that predictable workloads can be run more cost-effectively on-premise in a private cloud, whereas workloads that are less predictable need the flexibility of elastic cloud computing from the public cloud providers.

Alistair Taylor, IT programme manager at Derby City Council, described how the council’s plans to move to Microsoft Azure were thwarted by poorly written applications that required far too much Iops (input output operations per second) and the inability to get sufficient performance from its Citrix virtual desktop.

“Our journey started in 2014 to move all our workloads to the Azure cloud,” he said. “We did a proof of concept, and chose a Microsoft partner. When we started the migration to move out entire datacentre to Azure,  we encountered problems and could only migrate 250 workloads to the Microsoft cloud.”

Taylor said the initial cloud migration project doubled in price, mainly because almost every server needed to be twice as big. “We had Iops issues, Citrix did not play well in the cloud and other legacy applications did not work in the cloud,” he said.

The council ended up with 17 legacy datacentre cabinets, which it needed to host. It selected Crown Hosting as its new co-location provider and swapped out its legacy Hitachi hypervisor, which Taylor said was costing the council £88,000 a year. It also bought 13 Nutanix nodes in July 2017 to support the legacy applications that could not move to Azure.

Over the next two years, Taylor said he hopes to migrate those applications that are already on Azure back on-premise, hosted on Nutanix hyper-converged servers. He estimated total savings over two years to be about £2m.

Regulatory compliance is also forcing companies in regulated industries to restrict what workloads can be run in the public cloud.

Nick Cardinal-Richards, wintel engineer at global asset manager firm Schroders, said the company selected Nutanix to host its Citrix virtual desktop environment on-premise because it is risk-averse. “We will move on-premise first, then gravitate to something like Citrix Workplace,” he said.

The global asset manager firm deployed Nutanix as part of its move to new London offices, said Cardinal-Richards. “We need a good user experience in the office and at home,” he said. “Nutanix provides a way to scale the virtual desktop programme out.”

He said that one of the benefits for IT is that the architecture is much simpler, since Nutanix provides storage and computing in a single hyper-converged server.

As Computer Weekly has reported previously, Nutanix sees a big opportunity in creating a niche for itself in the distributed cloud market, where workloads are dispersed on private and public clouds.

Earlier this month, Nutanix acquired Minjar, which provides the Botmetric cloud management platform. The tool is designed to give IT departments visibility of their cloud spending and data governance.

Nutanix said it plans to deliver Botmetric as software as a service (SaaS) to enable businesses to work out whether their workloads are running cost-effectively in the public cloud.

Over time, Nutanix hopes to develop Botmetric so that IT departments compare the cost of running workloads in the public clouds with running on-premise on Nutanix systems.

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