To Cloud or not to Cloud?

There’s a new default in software development these days: the cloud. It’s like electricity – the assumed answer to every problem. We’ve got “cloud-native” architectures, a term that practically rolls your eyes for you. But is the cloud always the best solution, especially for enterprises and SMEs? Here at our company, which builds a lot of e-commerce software, we’ve found that a more nuanced approach is often better.

Let’s take a common scenario. We get a client who wants a custom e-commerce solution. We could build it using a trendy serverless framework like Azure Functions or AWS Lambda. It’s cloud-native, it scales beautifully – all the buzzwords are there. But here’s the thing: it locks the client into that specific cloud provider. And for what? The economics of scale might not even be that relevant for their business. Plus, there’s the added complexity of needing a whole new skillset to manage that serverless architecture.

 

So, there must be a better way. Maybe the answer isn’t a monolithic cloud application, but a good old-fashioned (dare I say it?) monolith. Yeah, I know monolith gets a bad rap these days, but hear me out. A well-designed monolith can be way easier to manage, especially for a smaller team. All the moving parts are in one place, less room for things to go wrong.

 

The key here is to be objective. The cloud isn’t a magic bullet. There’s a sweet spot, a point on the scale where an organization has the size and technical muscle to truly benefit from the cloud. For everyone else, a cloud-light approach – maybe co-located servers or even a turnkey solution – might be a better fit.

 

That’s how we approach things at our company. We build on both the cloud and traditional setups, but we always start with a fundamental business assessment. We evaluate all the options, cloud versus not-cloud, weigh the pros and cons. Then, we design an architecture that leverages the cloud where it makes sense – for scaling or specific features – or recommend a hybrid solution if that’s the best fit. Cloud-native tools are great, but only when they give us the most bang for the buck.

 

Think of it like this: if you’re opening a lemonade stand, you probably don’t need a commercial juicer and a fleet of delivery drones. A simple hand squeezer and a card table will do just fine. The cloud can be that juicer – powerful, but overkill for some situations. Sometimes, the traditional approach – the box in the corner – is the better way to go. After all, the goal is to sell lemonade, not build a beverage empire. Same goes for your software. Choose the tools that get you there efficiently, not just the trendiest ones.

When the Cloud Makes Sense: Scaling from Lemonade Stands to Empires

Imagine a young entrepreneur setting up a lemonade stand. A simple hand squeezer and a card table are sufficient for their needs.  Now picture a massive beverage corporation with nationwide distribution. They wouldn’t dream of using a hand squeezer – industrial juicers and automated bottling lines are the order of the business.

 

The cloud operates similarly. For small businesses or startups with a limited user base, a traditional on-premise solution might be perfectly adequate. However, as a business scales, the limitations of on-premise infrastructure become apparent. Scaling up physical servers becomes expensive and time-consuming. The cloud, with its inherent scalability, shines in such scenarios. Businesses can easily add resources as needed to handle increased traffic and user growth.

 

Real-world examples abound. Companies like Netflix, with their massive global user base, rely heavily on cloud infrastructure to deliver seamless streaming experiences. Similarly, social media giants like Facebook leverage the cloud for their ever-growing user base and constantly evolving features.

A Decision-Making Framework

What do you think?

1 Comment
April 10, 2023

Even if we do not talk about 5G (specifically), the security talent in general in the country is very sparse at the moment. We need to get more (security) professionals in the system.

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