Migrating applications to the cloud offers incredible opportunities that can make your business more versatile and efficient. Collaboration is often easier with the cloud, for example, and it can make disaster recovery a breeze, writes Sven Hammar, CSO of Apica Systems.
However, the cloud isn’t necessarily the right choice for every application. Is your team thinking of shifting your application to a cloud-based model? Make sure to take the following considerations into account before making your move:
* Will the cloud be compatible? Before going any further, your company should first determine if the desired application can be moved to the cloud at all. The software itself may be inherently incompatible with cloud platforms, or may require specific hardware that limited vendors support. And while some apps are technically compatible, the software license may not allow cloud-based operation.
* Is the cloud cost-effective? Next, your company should weigh the pros and cons of migrating applications to the cloud versus changes in operational costs. Before migrating to the cloud, your business should identify a cloud solution that makes sense for the specific application. In most cases, the cloud is more cost-effective and efficient than running local servers, but sometimes the servers make more sense. It’s important to fully understand the application’s pricing model so you don’t end up facing unexpected charges. Additionally, your business should shop around to find a vendor that offers the capabilities your applications require at a reasonable cost.
* Will the transition to the cloud be smooth? A rough transition process can make applications temporarily inaccessible, so it’s essential that the migration be as smooth as possible. In order to do so, your transition team needs to fully understand how the application works. Depending on the application, your business may be able to move over seamlessly, like transitioning a virtual machine; or it may require retooling and reworking. Additionally, finding the right migration tool is an important part of the process. Learning how to migrate an application is a skill in itself–and it’s one your IT staff needs to learn. Do not transition an application that is essential for your business to operate as your first cloud migration, as it’s important that your IT staff is familiar with the process for a successful move. Moving something simple and non-vital like a reference Intranet to the cloud as a pilot test will familiarise IT staff with the process. Additionally, cloud migration testing allows your team to quickly identify and address potential transition problems in advance.
* Performance-checking services – Once in the cloud, your applications need to continue to address concerns with usage rates and scalability, but your company won’t have the same level of access to the infrastructure as it does with locally-hosted hardware. This is where having a load testing and monitoring provider comes into play. Your applications require continual attention to performance to thrive in a cloud environment. Scaling in the cloud must be possible and one must seek validation of scaling capbillities when creating applications.
* Continuity and disaster recovery – It’s just as important for your business to ask “what will we do when the cloud doesn’t work” as it is to ask “if the cloud will work.” Business continuity is essential when working with the cloud, because the move shifts operational dependencies away from your local network to the Internet and the application’s hosting data center. Your business should look at what to do in the event of an outage, what the provider will do to compensate for outages, backup redundancy infrastructure, and estimate time to return to service. Your selected provider should also practice reliable disaster recovery strategies. Make sure the primary data centre and backup data centre are in different physical locations/availability zones. The last thing your business needs is to have its cloud applications entirely wiped out by a fire.
With these five key questions satisfactorily answered, the transition to the cloud should be smooth and your platform can be kept running optimally for years to come.