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The rise of cloud repatriation

Image: Adobe Stock / idambeer

Philip Kaye, Co-Founder and Director at Vesper Technologies (Vespertec), explains how successful cloud repatriation requires a thorough examination of current IT setups, strategic planning, and meticulous execution.

Recent findings from a Citrix study indicate that a quarter of UK companies are transitioning the majority of their cloud-hosted capacities back to on-premises facilities. This shift – termed cloud repatriation – reflects a growing realisation among businesses that while cloud environments may advertise cost-efficiency, scalability, and flexibility, they also come with challenges such as hidden expenses, security issues, performance inconsistencies, compatibility issues, and reliability concerns. 

As the initial excitement over cloud computing subsides, companies are now taking a more calculated approach, carefully evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of cloud services versus on-premises solutions. This careful consideration is crucial, particularly in how it aligns with their specific operational requirements, workload demands, and strategic goals. 

Developing a robust cloud repatriation plan 

Migrating from cloud to on-premises is a complex process that needs strategic planning and precise execution. Here’s a structured approach to effective repatriation: 

Step 1: A cloud service audit 

Initiate the process with a thorough audit of your cloud infrastructure. This assessment should focus on evaluating the cost-effectiveness, performance, and overall efficiency of your cloud services. Identify workloads that are feasible for repatriation by analysing their resource consumption, dependencies, and performance data. 

This audit will also help uncover migration challenges, such as application incompatibilities and complex data transfer requirements, which can inform the necessary preparations for a smooth transition. 

Step 2: Establish high-priority workloads 

Rank workloads by their importance to business operations, data intensity, and compliance demands. Workloads that handle sensitive information or require high transactional speeds may benefit from on-premises configurations due to enhanced control and security, reduced latency, and lower operational risks. 

Particularly, applications that are vital for day-to-day operations or those that process large volumes of data should be prioritised for repatriation to limit any disruptions and optimise performance.

Step 3: Prepare for migration challenges 

Repatriation is not devoid of obstacles; chief among these being data migration and application reintegration. Developing a migration plan that ensures data integrity and minimises downtime is critical. It’s also advisable to anticipate the need for application redevelopment or adaptation to align with on-premises architectures. 

Proactive training for IT staff and possibly incorporating external consultancy are recommended to ensure the team is well-equipped to handle the transition and manage the updated infrastructure effectively. 

Constructing a high-performance on-premises setup 

Successfully transitioning workloads from the cloud back to on-premises requires setting up a capable, efficient infrastructure designed to handle these workloads effectively. This process involves two critical steps: enhancing server efficiency through virtualisation and upgrading to efficient cooling technologies. 

Server consolidation: Start by consolidating physical servers to minimise data centre space, which in turn reduces power and cooling requirements. This step lowers operational costs and simplifies management. 

Use of virtualisation technologies: Employ virtualisation to run multiple virtual machines on a single physical server, optimising hardware use and allowing for quick scalability and resource management according to needs. 

Addressing high-density heat output: As server consolidation increases, effective cooling becomes essential to prevent overheating. Traditional air cooling might not suffice, necessitating more sophisticated solutions. 

Liquid cooling solutions: Implement liquid cooling systems—such as direct-to-chip cooling. These systems use a coolant to absorb and dissipate heat directly from processors and other critical components, efficiently managing the higher heat output from dense server configurations. 

 Ensuring an open infrastructure: Enhancing flexibility and control 

As businesses plan their migration from cloud to on-premises, adopting an open infrastructure approach can significantly enhance flexibility, reduce costs, and improve overall performance. Open infrastructure refers to systems that use open standards and open-source software which foster interoperability and customisation. Here’s how open infrastructure can be a pivotal element of the cloud repatriation process: 

Flexibility and scalability: Open systems are designed to be vendor-neutral, which means they can operate across different environments and with various technologies. This flexibility allows businesses to integrate the best solutions from multiple vendors without compatibility issues. Additionally, open infrastructures are inherently scalable, adapting quickly to changing needs without substantial modifications or additional costs. 

Avoidance of vendor lock-in: One of the critical advantages of open infrastructure is the prevention of vendor lock-in. Businesses are not restricted to proprietary solutions or platforms, giving them the freedom to choose or switch between technologies and providers as their requirements or budget dictates. This flexibility also positions businesses to negotiate from a stance of strength, potentially lowering costs due to competitive options. 

Customisation and control: With open infrastructure, companies have more control over their IT environment. They can customise setups to exact specifications and optimise operations according to specific workload demands. This high degree of control can lead to improved efficiency and performance, as systems are tailored to precise business needs. 

Cost-effectiveness: Open infrastructures typically involve lower procurement and operating costs than proprietary systems. The use of open-source software, for instance, can significantly reduce license fees. Additionally, the ability to integrate and optimise various open technologies often leads to reduced expenditure on maintenance and upgrades. 

Looking ahead to on-premises computing 

With cloud repatriation on the rise, businesses are recalibrating their IT strategies to foster enhanced control, better compliance, and improved security. The transition back to on-premises is not just a reversal or backlash to trends but a strategic move towards optimising computational workloads and achieving a sustainable balance between cloud and on-premises resources. 

As technologies evolve and organisational needs change, the flexibility to adapt and the capacity to integrate new solutions will be key to maintaining efficiency and achieving long-term success in a competitive market landscape. 

Cloud repatriation involves thoughtful examination of current IT setups, strategic planning for migration, and meticulous execution to rebuild on-premises infrastructures that are not only capable of supporting current workloads but are also future-proof to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. 

Picture of Philip Kaye
Philip Kaye
Co-Founder & Director at Vesper Technologies (Vespertec)

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