The debate of using public cloud versus private infrastructure is long lasting. While the former promises elasticity and scale, the latter allows enterprises to have more security and control. Amid increasing data localization and regulations, enterprises are challenged to use the right model for their cloud journey. Luckily the solution is already at hand! Cloud appliances have quickly emerged as a viable solution for enterprises navigating their way through the complex web of data security, privacy, localization and sovereignty regulations.
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A cloud appliance is a stand-alone computing device or virtual machine (VM) image used to run a private cloud instance at your local site. This on-premise infrastructure extends all the features of public cloud with full control over enterprise infrastructure, data and access controls. Thus, it acts as a complete on-premise fail-safe system. Cloud appliance offerings such as AWS Outposts[i], Google Anthos[ii] and Azure Stack[iii] can help you create a combination of public and private cloud by offering the best of both worlds. These cloud appliances are managed services, which can extend the elasticity of public cloud infrastructure on an on-premise stack. This provides a seamless and consistent experience to users regardless of their geographic location.
Cloud appliances provide a localized scaled down version of public cloud while maintaining data standards, features and security of its public cloud peer. The benefits of cloud appliances are:
- Regulation compliance: A cloud appliance is a local installation with user control over data processing and storage. It complies with the data localization and sovereignty regulations. For countries with stricter data regulations, appliances provide the right mix of security and agility.
- Interoperability: Through Kubernetes and microservice architectures, appliances bring interoperability between existing on-premise infrastructure and public cloud offerings. This reduces the risk of locking into an ecosystem. And, it provides an easy way for aggregating insights across multiple cloud environments.
- Economy of scale: Unlike private cloud counterparts, appliances don’t require significant investment into hardware and ecosystems. Software-only appliances such as Google Anthos and hybrid appliances from Azure offer low-entry cost options.
- Security and control: A cloud appliance provides data and access controls to offer a perfect balance between on-premise install and public cloud infrastructure.
Cloud appliance offerings of hyperscale service providers
Now, I’ll share some of the best cloud appliance options. Most public cloud vendors already have offerings in this space. Among the established vendors, Azure was the first to roll out its product, and Google a fast follower. AWS appliances are ideal for existing AWS cloud customers seeking an on-premise solution. AWS Outposts and Azure Stack have mature offerings with better pricing and security. Anthos, with its simple offering requiring no hardware investment, is ready to scale up quickly. In general, all cloud appliances are regulation-compliant by design due to their targeted localization and policy application for user sensitive data.
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I’ve noticed that many forward-looking enterprises are willing and ready to evaluate these solutions to help them navigate their interoperability and compliance challenges. With so many options, there is a right fit for every organization.
[The authors would like to acknowledge research contributions from Kapil Singi, Swapnajeet Gon Choudhury and Rambhau Eknath Rote from Accenture Labs, and Pranav Kudesia and Denis Jose from Accenture Research]
[i] AWS Outposts (https://aws.amazon.com/outposts/)
[ii] Google Anthos (https://cloud.google.com/anthos/)
[iii] Azure Stack (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/overview/azure-stack/)