With ‘all-you-can-eat’ compute power at low-low prices, it’s tempting to try to move applications wholesale from on-premises systems to cloud servers. You’ll never run out of processing capacity; system maintenance and upgrades become somebody else’s burden; and you won’t have to buy a whole new server when all you want is 10 percent more oomph to handle a seasonal peak in demand. But while the migration of apps to the cloud via an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) or a PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering has been a good solution for many users, it was only after checking the following points.
- Will the App Run in the Cloud? The more an app uses specific software or even hardware components, the less likely it is to run on standard cloud platforms; like that legacy application that you were so hoping you could move out. On the other hand, remember that a collocation solution (your own server hardware and software running in a third-party data center) might give you at least some cloud-like advantages.
- Is Security Good Enough? As a rule, whenever information gets beyond the perimeter of the enterprise, a risk of data compromise has to be accepted. You can encrypt files before they leave your organization, but encryption key theft (from social engineering, for instance) and shaky cloud provider policies about erasing old hard disks could lead to problems. That said, cloud provider security is in fact often an improvement on customers’ own security.
- Can I Connect Up the Data Too? Apps need data and many of them need a lot of it. If your data is still being generated or stored on your own premises, the challenge will be to have the app access that data in a reliable and timely way. Then you’ll have to figure out what do with the processed data from the cloud afterwards. Alternatively, don’t migrate – make a new app specifically for the cloud and create, process and store your data all in the cloud too.
- Are There Existing Systems to Amortize? If your enterprise just invested in its own new servers or new storage units, it may not make economic sense to shelve them and pay out yet more money for cloud servers. Virtualization may also let you run your app with others on the same machine, making your on-premises installation an even more cost-effective solution.
- Is There a Cost Advantage or Not? Following on from the point above, there is no guarantee that cloud computing services will be cheaper. Any app migration needs to be assessed in terms of cost and value. Will a migration end up costing more in service provider subscriptions, setup fees and consultancy than if you left the app where it is today?
- Can I Reverse Gears if I Need To? Suppose you migrate your app. Can you move it back again if you change your mind? Cloud-based disaster recovery solutions are a prime example. Customers can carry on running their business from the cloud if their own installations crash, but surprisingly little is said about how to get back out of the cloud once the on-premises systems have been repaired.
The cloud may be cool, but good business decisions are more important when it comes to possible app migrations. IT is there to help the enterprise, not vice versa (unless you’re an IT vendor.) Cloud solutions and app migrations should be evaluated objectively, like choices in any other area of business, like marketing, production, sales, logistics or accounting.