The new norm of Cloud Computing
Every day Computing
There is no doubt that Cloud Computing is a reality and not a tendency. A search on Google Trends for the term "cloud computing" brings an interesting result. It shows an increasing level of curiosity in 2008 that accelerates through 2009, reaching its highest levels in 2011/2012. After that it declines. That does not indicate a lack of interest; it may actually demonstrate that Cloud Computing is leaving the hype to become part of the daily agenda of organizations. A few years from now we will probably refer to Cloud Computing as just "Computing", since almost everything will be, by default, on the Cloud.
Many startups have cloud as an integral part of their DNA. That is certainly not the case for most Fortune 500 companies that face the challenge to define the right cloud strategy. Aligned with this demand, CapTech has recently announced its Cloud Computing Service Offering.
Evaluate your Applications
Using a very simplistic approach to identify cloud fit for existent applications, we should consider business and technical readiness as a starting point for an evaluation process. These two aspects combined give us four categories to work:
- Application ready for cloud
- Technically ready but business weak
- Business ready but technically weak
- Application is not ready for cloud
Applications considered ready for cloud do not have outstanding issues that need to be addressed before hand. There are no major technical gaps in technology or architecture that would prevent these applications to be deployed and run on any cloud environment and, there are no business needs that could prevent or raise serious concerns about the move. Examples are mobile apps (natural fit) or existent web applications serving static content, running on traditional infrastructures and without critical integrations with the company backend services.
Technically ready applications have good design and architecture, use an application server, relational database or any other software that is mature enough to have a cloud license model (open source is a strong option here) and does not require major changes. Business wise, these applications might have critical user information and require compliance with standards such as HIPAA, PCI, etc. Even though most cloud providers offer compliance with these rules and regulations, big enterprises still need time to adapt and plan accordingly to adjust an entire ecosystem. For this reason, applications on this category should be considered second movers. Examples on this category are health insurance websites, banks and intranet applications.
Business ready applications do not have any outstanding issue, giving cloud a green light. However, the technical side is probably ages behind. Outdated programming languages and software, poor architecture and design, and lack of technology support by cloud providers are some of the challenges faced by this group. Very likely, these applications will require a considerable amount of work, some re-writes, a lot of time and money. For this group, an enterprise architecture strategy would be ideal for a change in direction on these legacy applications.
The applications that present a combination of technical and business weakness have fundamental gaps without any work around and short to medium term solutions. Typically this group would never go to the cloud or will take a tremendous effort, time and money.
This classification is by no means enough when evaluating your use cases considering cloud computing, this is just a simple starting point that is not taking into consideration many complex areas like security, standards, rules and regulations, to name a few.
Finally, there is no moving to Cloud without choosing a provider (even if that is your own private cloud) and that can be a daunting task, an activity that requires a clear understanding of services offered (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.), technology stack, support model, contract and overall price. Usually the first companies and services that come to mind are Amazon WebServices, Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine. To give some perspective about the current leaders in Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service check the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS and Enterprise Application PaaS.
Cloud one step at the time
The computing model has changed from the traditional hosting, on-premise data centers to a decentralized, flexible architecture capable of adjusting to different business scenarios at various circumstances. All of these benefits, aligned with well-designed applications, contribute to increase time to market allowing companies to stay ahead and focused on the business advantage that is required in today's world, to remain relevant, competitive and profitable.
Start small at first, learn and continue with incremental steps, reassess the results and improve one application at the time.
How far ahead is your company into the cloud?