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Cloud Repatriation – A Realistic Future or Just a Passing Fad?

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By Nikhil Rathi, Founder & CEO, Web Werks Data Centers

‘Cloud Repatriation’ refers to moving workloads or applications from a Public Cloud to a Private Cloud. This trend is perceived by some as an indicator of declining interest in Public Cloud services and moving towards Private Cloud Computing. On the other hand, some people suggest redefining the notion of repatriation to accurately reflect the dynamic nature of IT services in today’s digital world – workload mobility.

Moving Away from The Public Cloud
In 451 Research’s ‘Voice of the Enterprise: Datacenters 2021’ survey, about 48% of companies indicated that they were transitioning their workloads and applications away from Hyperscale Public Cloud providers to private cloud providers.

But why was this shift made? The primary reason is that the Public Cloud may not be suitable for all workloads. Plus, the term ‘repatriation’ is open-ended. It also implies moving the data back to ‘captive’ i.e., on-premises Data Centers and a Private Cloud ecosystem/Private Cloud Computing where organisations have better control than third-party operated Data Centers and Public Cloud.

Getting Into the Skin of Repatriation
The reality is that Cloud repatriation is complex and nuanced. In several cases, it is not about re-adopting the same on-premises configurations but more about leveraging new Hybrid Cloud opportunities. The hybrid models help integrate the on-premises workloads with Public Cloud services.

However, repatriation can be pursued for several reasons, including costs and other requirements such as backup and recovery. The latter refers to Cloud-based backups that may take longer than those in an on-premises setup.

Contribution Of Repatriation to Cloud Computing
Usually, repatriation means that more organisations will shift to the on-premises model, with Cloud architectures becoming less vital. For some, Cloud repatriation involves converting workloads back into on-premises models. Yet, for others, it entails migrating to more sophisticated types of Cloud-based architectures.
Examples

An instance can be a SaaS application previously hosted in a traditional Public Cloud that gets migrated into an Edge computing ecosystem. The application remains in the Public Cloud, but data processing happens at the on-premises servers.

In another, there is a backup and recovery operation whose data storage once relied on the Public Cloud. It expanded so that backups get retained in the Cloud and on-premises.

Cloud Repatriation for Contingency Planning
Ultimately, Cloud repatriation is still a practical part of contingency planning. Most businesses need not repatriate properly architected and optimised workloads for the Public Cloud.  Contingencies are not necessarily due to oversight or upfront mistakes but rather from the impact of future changes. When it comes to contingency planning, cost, security, availability, and skills merit consideration. It is this four-factor ensemble that shall determine the efficacy of the Cloud. A storming challenge for Public Clouds is outages. Though rare, these can last for hours and impact business revenues. In such cases, enterprises stand at the mercy of the Cloud provider.

Continual Assessment of The Cloud
The paradigm shift is fuelled by CIOs and IT leaders seeking details about Cloud investments. They are always gauging whether Cloud projects delivered the lower costs and ROIs as promised. This aspect brings the need for continual assessment.

The primary consideration for organisations is to evaluate where and how to run the workloads. The phenomenon entails migrating to alternative models that render higher value without adding significant risk. For some workloads, this could mean repatriation, provided substantial savings manifest.

However, when it comes to uncertainties, the flexibility and agility of Cloud solutions, the ease of provisioning and scaling new resources, and the ability to shut down when not needed are paramount. With that said, hybrid IT models are deemed ideal.

A Deeper Dive into The Drivers
Security is crucial as misconfigurations, lax permissions, and other errors result in breaches. According to data reported by IDC, about 47% of respondents regard security as the top repatriation driver. The second to this is cost. Moving to Public Clouds can conserve capital costs, initially. Subsequently, building a Private Cloud and working with a reliable cloud service provider becomes just as economical.

Another is compliance. Although the major platforms are certified, clients are responsible for adhering to the regulatory requirements.

The reality of this dilemma boils down to two points:
– Enterprise IT assume Cloud works similar to their captive Data Center.
– Vendor marketing companies make claims for ease of use and economical price points.

How To Get It Right?
Proper planning can help avoid Cloud repatriation. Similarly, setting realistic expectations can minimise business and IT risks, while effective Cloud governance can ensure Cloud costs remain in line. Organisations must also look at the numbers before considering moving the workload. If Cloud repatriation is justifiable, enterprises should inevitably go for Hybrid Cloud, Edge computing, and Private Cloud infrastructures.

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