Monday, 2 January 2017

Why moving servers to the cloud doesn't work.

It's a safe bet that 2017 will see increasing levels of hype around the adoption of cloud services for both business and education.

In the UK, schools are being encouraged to move in this direction by policy guidelines  issued by the Department of Education while at the same time licence changes from Microsoft are aimed at making MS Azure more attractive when compared with the on-site options.

Throughout the year Google will continue to work actively in this arena, promoting their cloud service (G Suite for Education and Google Classroom) as well as other initiatives such as Expeditions. At the BETT show, to be held in London later this month its likely that the vast majority of new software will be launched as cloud based applications (SaaS) rather than local server installs. It all appears to be heading in one direction.

Building a new school using cloud services is one challenge but migrating an existing school raises a whole range of issues. Most sites have long standing dependencies on locally installed software and legacy systems for both administration and teaching which makes this a far more difficult task.
Faced with this scenario it's tempting to simply take the existing server estate and replicate to an IaaS platform like Microsoft Azure.

Job done, your school is in the cloud with all the boxes ticked.

Because many school servers already run on virtualized server platforms such as Microsoft Hyper-V or VMWare this seems like a low risk solution and in some respects it is but it comes with one major drawback - it doesn’t work.

This is not a particular shortcoming of MS Azure but more a set of constraints that you face when moving workloads to Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) by simply replicating the onsite architecture.

This might come as a bit of a surprise. Isn’t the whole point of the blog an attempt to reduce the number of on-premise servers and move to the cloud. It’s The Serverless School after all  - so what's going on.




Why wouldn't rebuilding the onsite infrastructure in the cloud bring the benefits we expect ?

It doesn't change anything.
Migrating servers to the cloud is not a catalyst for change. The servers are off site but same problems remain. Some pinch points are removed such as remote access, expansion capacity and the hardware upgrade cycle but you are still managing services in a similar way and it’s pretty much the same system.

Shifting to the cloud without anybody noticing it's a significant technical achievement but for a school it just represents a missed opportunity. Moving systems to an IaaS platform is not a transformative process.

Its slowww.
Actually users will notice a change - it’s going to be slower. Placing servers on the end of a wire that carries less than 10% of the throughput of a local connection is going to have an impact. SaaS applications don’t have the same problem because they have been designed to perform on low-bandwidth internet connection. In contrast the user experience provided by a locally installed application when accessing files or loading user profiles relies heavily on a responsive data connection and when this doesn't exist the results can be ugly.

The bill please.
Onsite servers are very inefficient. In most schools they are only used for about eight hours and even when they are working, utilise only a fraction of the total capacity. Throughout the whole day they’ll be consuming energy to heat them up and more energy to cool them down. They also require support, backup systems, redundant capacity and every five years they’ll need replacing. Migrating servers to an IaaS platform seems an obvious solution. So you rebuild or migrate your servers to IaaS and all it well... and then you get the monthly invoice.
OMG - why is it so expensive ?
IaaS appears costly because it’s measured against a misleadingly low value for on-site computing. On premise always looks cheap because most of the costs are hidden, unrecognised or simply not taken into account.

When you move your server estate to IaaS you see the true cost of under utilising processing power and storage and it can be quite a shock. IaaS is a great deal if your servers are working 24/7 to provide a service but if you export your inefficiencies to the cloud you simply get stuck with a checkbill for doing nothing.

There are workarounds some of these problems of course.

You can rationalise the number of servers and consolidate some of the services onto a single image.
"You started with six virtual servers but after the VLE install, the backup upgrade, the reporting software and the other stuff you 'need' you now have twelve although you’re not sure what they all do."
You could introduce some scheduling software in order to keep the cost down as well as keeping some of the core services local to speed things up, but now you have two systems, one on-site and one in the cloud and you're sure whether you have halved your problem or doubled it.

By the time you’ve re-engineered everything to make it work in the same way as it did on-premise wouldn’t it be simpler to consider a SaaS based solution.

Other considerations when moving VM infrastructure to the Cloud
Serverless School Serverless Serverless

11 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This can also be a handy negotiating tool with the hardware vendors when the time comes to renew or purchase more equipment.
    minecraft server hosting

    ReplyDelete
  3. You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times. Your views are in accordance with my own for the most part. This is great content for your readers. moving companies in playa del rey

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know. Buda Tx Moving Company

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am definitely enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great stories.
    VPS Hosting India

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice article, which you have shared here about the cloud servers. Your article is very informative and useful to know more about the cloud servers. If anyone looking for the best server hosting services, bisecthosting is the best for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for the informative post about Security challenges in AWS , Found it useful . cloud migration services have now become secured and with no-risk

    Cloud Migration services

    Aws Cloud Migration services

    Azure Cloud Migration services

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have gone through your post and I found it very helpfull. Looking forward to see more post from you.
    Vmware Cloud Migration services

    Database Migration services

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am really impressed with the way of writing of this blog. The author has shared the info in a crisp and short way.
    Lia Infraservices

    ReplyDelete
  10. We are a part of the success story for many of our customer's successful cloud Migrations.
    Cloud Migration services


    Best Cloud Migration Tool

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very excited jumping into this awesome post. Today we have to move somewhere whether it's interstate or our of state for many reasons. But finding a reliable moving service is truly tough.In this post the explanation made for its readers is highly helpful. I like this wonderful writing so much. Also would like to mention sites that are serving for the same purpose. Universal Moving offers a full range of packing services and moving storage services for both residential moving and commercial moving. Choosing a moving company can be confusing, but we ensure that your interstate move will be easy and efficient.

    Interstate Moving Company
    Long Distance Moving Company
    Out of State Moving Company

    ReplyDelete