Cloud & DevOps World 2016: Cloud-services cheaper and more reliable than on-prem

Nick Ioannou, head of IT for the Ratcliffe Groves Partnership, draws on his 26 years of experience in IT to claim using a combination of 26 different cloud based services means the company has IT power which could "compete with the big boys" in his industry.

Nick Ioannou at Clouds and DevOps World 2016.
Nick Ioannou at Clouds and DevOps World 2016.

Nick Ioannou, head of IT for the Ratcliffe Groves Partnership (RGP), today told a crowd at Cloud and DevOps World 2016 that despite his company being a smaller-size business, by using a combination of 26 different cloud based services, his company has IT power which means it can “compete with the big boys”.

Ioannou said RGP's IT infrastructure is 80 percent based in the cloud, with a further 20 percent being backed up ‘on prem'. He actively encourages employees to come and talk to him about new services and is generally happy to find budget to pay for it for everyone.

However, despite being an advocate of the cloud, Ioannou pointed out a plethora of issues which could arise from using cloud services. Fortunately, he said, all of these can be avoided by having multiple layers of fallbacks if one service should fail.

On the topic of backups, Ioannou said he had to go and find further services that could back up RGP's data, as the backups and archives offered by cloud providers can be lacking. As an example, he described how one provider allowed the download of a 390mb archive –  in 3mb chunks. He quipped, “This is the equivalent of asking your bank for your savings and getting it in 10 pence coins.”

The other common issue to watch for is downtime. When calculated over the course of a year, Ioannou points out that a 99.9 percent uptime can mount up quite quickly, whereas over a month it can equate to roughly 43.8 minutes. Ioannou argues this part of cloud services is mis-communicated with people, and he said that people should go back to the cloud provider and challenge them on their service level agreements.

As ever, security of the data was also a hot topic as the protections provided against malicious files can often be lacking, according to Ioannou. He explains that some cloud providers “don't protect from phishing, adware and spyware attacks,” which would mean it is a service which isn't giving the best value for money.

He then went on to question the reliability of some cloud providers, asking whether they would not simply collapse, close down, be sold or stopped. He cites services from two companies that simply stopped operating.

And finally, Ioannou spoke of payment issues. He explained, “If you can move them to be invoiced, I would 100 percent recommend that you do, as if a credit card provider decides to update your card or changes it details, you will need to change all the payment details on each provider's portal or risk having your service shut off once the 30 days non-payment grace period is over.”

And he added, invoices give the added benefit of a paper trail.

Despite these issues, Ioannou says that in their current setup, the RGP has cyber-resilience and security it simply could not achieve with on-prem services. The cost per head allows it to “compete with the ‘big boys' and is a damn site cheaper”.