Revisiting the repatriation debate: Are organizations rethinking the public cloud?

As of late, debate has rekindled around cloud repatriation and whether it is a real phenomenon or just a myth. Much of the confusion may stem from lack of agreement on the term itself: many envision repatriation as an organization completely shifting from a public cloud provider back to on-premises infrastructure, but this is seldom the case.

Recent evidence suggests that repatriation is just one aspect of a larger trend towards rationalizing and optimizing workloads across various IT environments. As a result, organizations are rethinking their workload distribution in public clouds for a variety of reasons, including performance, cost optimization, and security.

This indicates that repatriation is not necessarily a sign of failure in public cloud migrations, but rather an indication that organizations are becoming more adept at optimizing their workloads. This was the topic of Dell’s latest Power of Technology podcast by Mick Turner and Nick Brackney. Read on to learn more about their insights.

Some are questioning the long-term cost benefits of public cloud consumption

One reason some organizations begin to rethink workload placement stems from the financial implications of operating in the cloud long-term. Such was the case for 37 Signals, parent company for the project management solution Basecamp. After running a cost analysis, CTO David Heinemeier Hansson concluded that Basecamp’s predictable growth and relatively stable usage made it better suited for owning their own physical infrastructure than remaining in the public cloud.

Heinemeier Hansson observed that the public cloud makes sense for applications with runaway growth or wild peaks in usage, scenarios which never applied to Basecamp. “By continuing to operate in the cloud, we’re paying an at times almost absurd premium for the possibility that it could [have wild peaks in usage]. It’s like paying a quarter of your house’s value for earthquake insurance when you don’t live anywhere near a fault line.”

Security remains the top reason for migrating to and from the public cloud

Although there are growing doubts about the long-term cost benefits of public cloud, cost is not the primary factor that organizations consider when moving their workloads. According to a recent survey conducted by Dell of 233 IT decision makers[1], security is still the top reason for organizations to move their workloads both out of, but also into, the public cloud.

There are a few potential reasons for this. Organizations continue to perceive security benefits in the public cloud—automation, reduced IT overhead and access to best-of-breed capabilities to name a few. But along with those upsides come with—you guessed it—some downsides. For example, organizations that have been running on premises may benefit from years of institutional knowledge of internal practices that can be lost with a wholesale cloud migration. Issues around data sovereignty, compliance and regulatory guidelines can also complicate things. Many people simply find it challenging to manage a multicloud environment where there are subsets of data that can and can’t live in the public cloud.

In certain instances, these challenges can result in organizations fundamentally rethinking their environments—which can lead to a wholesale repatriation effort, or a smaller rollback of data or applications on premises. Either way, they may increasingly find themselves requiring solutions that help them easily manage and apply consistency across an IT estate that straddles between on premises, colos, edge locations, private cloud and public cloud environments.

Multicloud is complex, but it doesn’t have to be hard

Ultimately, the conversation may be less about cloud repatriation and more about adopting a thoughtful approach to where and how to place workloads. But this requires organizations to take a realistic view of their entire IT landscape and engage in honest discussions with stakeholders and business partners to fully understand their needs and requirements. While operating in a multicloud environment is inherently complex, it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are solutions available that can help organizations integrate with public cloud providers to simplify operations in a multicloud environment and bring the agility of the cloud operating model to dedicated IT environments. Although specific implementations may vary by organization, the principles of designing for multicloud environments remain consistent.

To learn more, listen to Debunking Cloud Repatriation from the Power of Technology, and stay tuned for more installments in this series in the coming weeks.

[1] 2022 survey of 233 IT decision makers, Dell internal study

Cloud Management