Performing cost analysis on cloud versus traditional recovery can seem like an overwhelming task, but it’s really not that hard. The first step is to calculate what the overhead for your traditional data centers and backups cost you today. Your accounting department likely can give you all of this. Using depreciated values is not a bad idea for looking at annual costs. Be sure to include things like: battery and UPS, fire suppression, generators, server equipment and racks, routers, hubs, switches, cabling from server to server, the cost to install, configure, and maintain the servers. Costs of upgrades and not least, the current costs you’re paying for backups, tapes and RAID. Then, there are the utility usage costs for network access, power, heating and cooling.
Next you want to look at what could reasonably and quickly be placed in a cloud environment and what the costs will be. To start with look at a few servers you want to move entirely to cloud, or look at beginning with a few critical backups. With the right cloud vendor, using a VPN, the cloud server will behave exactly as if it were on premise. The integration issues will be non-existent provided the configurations, firewalls and encryption is managed appropriately. Remember, just because a server is in the cloud, does not mean it is automatically backed up. Find out the cost of the server – it is probably based on CPU, RAM and SAN. If there are incremental costs for each calculate the size of your current servers against the estimated cloud costs.
Now calculate what the costs of redundancy for the primary servers. For cloud redundancy you need to create and maintain a backup in a different cloud sector or zone of your private cloud. Failover should be automatic within the cloud if a server (it’s still equipment) is down, but if there is a virus or other problem with your information, you need to have backups created that can be restored in a different regional location. Be sure your cloud vendor allows creation and control of a reserve server to be held in a suspended state, ready to restore backups at a moment’s notice. The suspended state means you are only paying for storage of the configuration (pennies a month) versus keeping it running live and incurring costs for something that may only be needed occasionally.
Activating that server can be done from a smartphone in a matter of moments and the cloud backup to the servers initiated. The server and data are available in minutes or hours depending on how many terabytes, versus days of recovery in a traditional environment. Time is money and this is a primary reason for moving recovery from traditional environments or managed services to the cloud, where you have control of your recovery. You are also saving travel costs of staff to a hardened recovery center. Add the estimated cost savings for travel and a formal disaster declaration.
Do the math now…. What will this cost you versus what you currently paying out in overhead and recovery costs. A complete cloud data center may not significantly reduce head count, but as far as the CAPEX and OPEX in the long run there are significant savings, even if you are a smaller company. A few of the cloud vendors provide spreadsheet calculators that can help in comparing and evaluating the cost benefits.
Looking at the numbers will help you get a realistic look at the benefits in hard dollars. The soft benefits are many since you have full control with cloud management tools. Adding the hard dollars to that equation helps justify the move to cloud.
photo credit: vic xia