What Is Data Repatriation?

What Is Data Repatriation?

Data Repatriation, also known as cloud repatriation or the hybridization of cloud storage, is the process of moving all data from the cloud to an on-premises data storage system or combining local and cloud data storage. 

Data repatriation is becoming more and more common as companies realize that continuing to store an increasingly large amount of data in the cloud is very expensive.

Recent IDC research has revealed that most companies are now engaging in some form of data repatriation.

While the benefits of public cloud are clear and include efficiency, scalability, and the ability to consolidate functions with less equipment, keeping data in the public cloud does come with certain risks and costs. As a result, many organizations are moving their data out of the cloud and back on-premises.  

Advantages of Data Repatriation

Moving data back on-premises via data repatriation comes with many benefits, including:

Less costs

Cost is the primary advantage of data repatriation. Having and maintaining your own on-premises data center comes with its own share of expenses, and, in theory, the cloud can help you avoid these costs. But, the reality is that once your data is in a public cloud, the costs can start to add up like with a restaurant bill or bar tab. As a result, public cloud usage costs can wind up being far greater than maintaining your own data center. 

In the end, the amount of money companies can save by taking their data off of the public cloud can be significant. Why? Because, while Amazon and most of the other public cloud service providers generally don’t charge anything to upload data to their service, they do charge for capacity and data transfers. External data transfers, in particular, can get extremely expensive, depending on the number of workloads you’re running and how intensively you’re using your data outside of just storing it.

With any cloud service, the more you use it, the more it costs. These costs can include:

  • Storage volume
  • Server instances
  • Per-use service

There can also be many other “hidden” costs that you may not have expected when you deployed your workload to the public cloud.

More security

There’s an entire industry formed around cloud security, and for good reason. Many, if not all, companies have some degree of concern around what happens to their data and how safe it is once they put it into the cloud. 

The issue isn’t that the cloud is inherently insecure or unprotected. It’s that, for any cloud deployment to be (and stay) well protected against data breaches and cyberattacks, there are several things that need to happen correctly (or that could also go wrong) around security policies, architectural configurations, compliance, data location, and other factors.

Repatriating data means you automatically attain a whole new level of proximity to your data and physical control of it. It’s kind of like putting your money in a safe at home versus a safe at a bank. The bank is secure, but what happens if it gets robbed or becomes insolvent? In this respect, your money will be a little safer if it’s stored at home.

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Better availability

Going back to the bank analogy, you’re better equipped to closely monitor and protect your cash if you keep it in a home safe rather than a safe at the bank. You also have many more things within your control around protecting it. 

The same goes for your data. Although public cloud failures are rare, they can affect thousands of customers and last for hours or even days. Cloud customers depend on their provider, which has to allocate resources and lead remediation efforts. 

With an on-premises data center, on the other hand, the company has full control over the availability and performance of the application. The company can use in-house IT staff who understand the workload's requirements and can quickly address and correct problems.

Disadvantages of Data Repatriation

There can be drawbacks to moving data back on-premises through data repatriation. These include: 

Potential lack or loss of speed or performance

In contrast to on-premises data centers, cloud usage usually improves performance by providing access to endless resources according to demand, which works well for unexpected traffic peaks or service surges. Also, there are certain geographically based best practices you can follow that can significantly decrease latency or increase bandwidth.

Potential lack or loss of collaboration

Unlike on-premises environments, the cloud provides collaboration and communication tools that could become an important part of your organization’s working culture. The key is to create practical access and governance policies that protect your data without making it too difficult for authorized people to access. 

Bottom Line: Should You Repatriate Your Data?

Before embarking on any data repatriation project, you need to understand two things:

  1. What it is you’re getting into.
  2. That what you’re getting into will be worth it in the long run. 

Start by determining which data you want to repatriate, and then run a cost-benefit analysis on the project. Remember that the public cloud’s ease of provisioning and scaling are a big advantage, especially in the initial stages of application deployment. So, in some cases, for example, you may choose to repatriate your data by moving it on-premises but keep your compute power in the cloud. For seasonal applications with big traffic spikes at certain times of the year, it may make more sense to store data locally but access it through the cloud at a fraction of the cost of doing everything within the cloud. 

Once you know you’re going to repatriate your data and have run a cost-benefit analysis to ensure it’s worth it, you can move forward with the project. But first, it’s wise to consult other people who have done it already to learn if they made any mistakes or would have done anything differently.

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