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What is cloud repatriation?

Cloud repatriation is undoubtedly one of the hottest trends in the cloud infrastructure space as of 2023. It enables organisations to regain control of their cloud spend, workloads and data. According to a report on cloud repatriation by 451 Research group, 48% of IT decision makers confirmed that they had moved their applications away from hyperscalers to other venues in 2021. At the same time, Gartner predicts that global spending on public cloud services is predicted to exceed $590 billion in 2023.

These numbers are food for thought. Over the last few years, leading public cloud providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, have dominated the cloud market, serving as an entry point for all those organisations that are at the beginning of their cloud migration journey. In addition, there is no indication that this will change drastically due to the ever-increasing demand for cloud resources. However, relying entirely on public cloud infrastructure comes with a number of challenges. And this is clearly what more IT leaders are starting to realise.

What is cloud repatriation?

In short, cloud repatriation is the process of migrating applications from public clouds back to your own infrastructure. Such infrastructure can either be located on-premises or hosted by a data centre provider. It can be a private cloud, a simple virtualisation environment or even legacy IT infrastructure. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is breaking the dependence on the public cloud provider. And there are many reasons to start looking into it.

Challenges with public clouds

The main advantages of public cloud infrastructure are an immediate time to market and theoretically infinite resources. At the end of the day, all you need to do is to attach your credit card to the cloud billing system, and you can start consuming cloud services right away. However, many organisations that initially embraced public clouds have faced several issues in the long term, such as increasing costs. 

Source: Canonical’s Cloud Pricing Report

High cost

If the amount of your last bill from your public cloud provider has recently surprised you, you are definitely not alone. The high cost associated with public cloud infrastructure usage is one of the most widely cited issues by organisations that have used public clouds for a while. This results from a lack of proper planning, which usually leads to a euphoric migration of all workloads and data to public clouds. Such ill-considered actions quickly result in a lack of control over the budget and the need for a reverse migration (or repatriation) as a part of adopting the cloud optimisation strategy

Data sovereignty

Although the high cost is a key factor driving cloud repatriation, data sovereignty remains a valid concern. Again, an enthusiastic migration of “everything” to public clouds usually follows with a moment of reflection. Should all that confidential data really be stored in public clouds? Furthermore, various compliance regulations and contractual obligations often enforce where the data can be stored. As a result, organisations that are only using public clouds often find themselves in an uncomfortable situation when they need to implement those regulations. And this enforces a need for cloud repatriation.

Performance and resilience

Last but not least, performance and resilience play an important role too. In some parts of the world, migrating applications to public clouds might lead to performance degradation. This is due to low bandwidth and high latency. In such regions, local cloud infrastructure (either public or private) just performs better. Finally, contrary to what people usually think, public cloud outages are not uncommon. Obviously, hyperscalers provide a handful of tools for increasing resilience, such as different regions and availability zones, but those require further modernisation of applications which usually get migrated to the cloud in a “lift and shift” fashion.

Cloud repatriation vs cloud migration vs cloud optimisation

When public clouds first became available, a lot of companies embraced them, hoping to fully outsource their data centre operations. However, all the aforementioned challenges have later forced them to consider a reverse migration. Even though it sounds like a ping-pong game, cloud repatriation might actually be part of a broader IT strategy and an opportunity to solve the mistakes from the past.

Is cloud repatriation the opposite of cloud migration?

Not necessarily. While cloud migration is usually seen as a process of moving applications from legacy IT infrastructure to the cloud, cloud repatriation does not need to follow a reverse path. It might actually be a chance to modernise your organisation’s IT estate. For example, you can take this opportunity to build a private cloud and repatriate applications over there. In essence, cloud migration is focused more on modernising business applications, with the ultimate goal of making them cloud-native in the long term. In turn, cloud migration is all about optimising the underlying infrastructure for those applications.

How does cloud repatriation relate to cloud optimisation?

At this point, it should be clear then that cloud repatriation is usually a part of a broader cloud optimisation strategy. Cloud optimisation is something that more and more organisations have started exploring in search of cost reduction, performance improvement and compliance assurance. Adopting cloud optimisation best practices might require moving some applications back on their own infrastructure. And this process, as we already know, is cloud repatriation.

Alternatives to public cloud infrastructure

While cloud repatriation is all about moving applications away from public clouds, it doesn’t immediately remove the need for them. In fact, some workloads will always be better suited for public clouds. As a result, it is essential to always take a look at the broader picture and try to find the right balance. This is where hybrid multi-cloud architecture comes into play.

Use hybrid multi-cloud architecture

Hybrid multi-cloud architecture leverages both public and private cloud infrastructure at the same time, effectively aggregating their advantages. In this architecture, applications always run where it makes the most sense from economic, compliance and performance standpoints. This can mean either public or private cloud, depending on numerous factors. Those include the duration, scale, confidentiality and purpose of workloads. If the preferred location turns out to be a private cloud, organisations can still use highly scalable public cloud resources whenever absolutely needed. Common cases include bursting workloads during heavy load periods or running sporadic compute-intensive operations, such as data analytics.

Learn more about hybrid multi-cloud architecture >

Build a cost-effective enterprise-grade private cloud

An indispensable element of hybrid multi-cloud architecture is the private cloud. This infrastructure is exclusively available to a single organisation or entity, regardless of where it’s located and who operates it. Private clouds prove to be more cost-effective when running applications in the long term and on a large scale. At the same time, they provide the required level of performance. Due to their private nature, they can also help to meet local compliance requirements and internal policies. At the same time, they resemble public clouds’ behaviour, meaning that cloud repatriation does not necessarily need to mean “unclouding”.

Build cost-effective enterprise-grade private cloud >

Share your cloud repatriation story with us

Cloud repatriation is not a new thing. You might have even done it in the past but haven’t realised it until now. It is definitely becoming a part of organisations’ cloud optimisation strategy, as more and more teams become aware of the various challenges associated with public cloud infrastructure usage. Yet it is still at the head of the wave, and we’re all learning from it.

Thus, if you performed cloud repatriation in the past, you’re preparing for it or simply facing challenges with public clouds, we’d like to encourage you to share your story with us. By filling in a short anonymous survey, you will help us shape our product roadmaps and benefit from community collaboration. It will take no more than 3-5 minutes to complete.

< Fill in the survey >

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