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Dumping gear in the public cloud: It's about ease of use, stupid

Look at the numbers - co-location might work out cheaper

Politics feeds the Beast of Redmond

Of course, for me to use Supermicro in my debate with my fellow sysadmin is blasphemy. In this particular example, the sysadmin (and his bosses) in question would only consider hardware for a colocation setup if it was provided by the "preferred vendor" contractor they already use.

Printed key

You're not locked in per se, but in reality...

The contractor, naturally, will only consider DR setups if they can use SAN level replication. Additionally they will only use hardware their techs already have certifications for. This means that the contractor will only install Cisco UCS servers and EMC storage.

Given the requirements in question, the quote came back at $300k. To be honest, that seems really low for Cisco + EMC, and I don't think it would be able to replicate the entire environment, leaving me shaking my head about the whole thing. Even if we accept the quote at face value, that's double my configuration above, and I can physically shoot half the equipment and have the DR site still work.

The contractor in question is apparently also okay with Azure Hyper-V Replica. Despite earlier assertions about SAN replication being a requirement, Hyper-V Replica doesn't use any form of SAN replication, it just replicates your VMs.

I could point out that my Supermicro solution lets you toss Hyper-V on the DR site and thus provides the same level of service as Azure for a significantly lower cost. None of that, however, matters. We'd just spiral down into circular arguments until time ends.

Changing the rules

Hardware procurement is only ever going to occur through a trusted provider and that will only ever involve the brands and configurations that the preferred vendor is comfortable with. Azure, however, is "in the public cloud" and thus the usual procurement rules don't apply.

For those of you who complain about the use of the term "cloud" to explain concepts that have been around for decades, this, right here, is exactly why the marketing wonks did it. This situation is a great example of marketing working exactly as designed.

The raw cost of running the DR setup in question in Azure is $280k. The old procurement rules would require the use of specific hardware that is at least $300k. My solution comes in at $150k, and the licencing variability could make any one of those ultimately more – or less – expensive.

My solution doesn't use a preferred vendor's preferred vendor. It can never even be considered in this sort of situation, let alone have the licensing numbers run enough to know which solution might win out, and by how much. The public cloud, however, is just somehow different. New procurement rules can be put into place. Decades of politics and regulation bypassed because we have a new buzzword. The most economically rational solution won't be the one picked because that would require wading into the mess of red tape that is the old procurement rules.

All the old restrictions don't apply to the cloud, and that is the important lure that draws so many in.

Companies aren't drawn into the public cloud because they feel $500+ per year is a great value for a nearly useless, entry-level VM, or because the DR quote actually comes in below a managed colo solution. The cloud isn't attractive because companies actually value being locked in to a cloud vendor where they don't even own the equipment or data used to make their business go.

We can't even lie to ourselves and say that cloud computing removes the need for backups or disaster recovery planning, because that's demonstrably untrue. You still have to do it – and pay for it – even in the public cloud.

No, despite all the marketing and the chest beating, unless you have fully modern designed-for-the-public-cloud burstable workloads, the public cloud is rarely cheaper than local gear. Even with the most obviously cloud-friendly workload - disaster recovery - it's only a clear win in circumstances where the most expensive possible local equipment was chosen.

When people get this uppity, we outsource their jobs to an Asian nation. When the rules that people impose on computers drive up the cost – and the frustration level – of sourcing local equipment, we outsource those computers to the cloud.

The public cloud is attractive because it is – for the time being at least – a shortcut around bureaucracy. It may seem illogical or even irrational to many of us, but it will continue to sell. ®

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