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What should I deploy: A cloud-enabled or a cloud-centric application?

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With the recent exploration of cloud computing technologies, organizations are using cloud service models like infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) along with cloud deployment models (public, private and hybrid) to deploy their applications.

There is a concept in the cloud world that is based on application characteristics: the concept of cloud-enabled and cloud-centric applications. In this blog post, Dan Boulia provides a concise explanation about the concept.

Cloud asset managementYou can say that a cloud-enabled application is an application that was moved to cloud, but it was originally developed for deployment in a traditional data center. Some characteristics of the application had to be changed or customized for the cloud. On the other hand, a cloud-centric application (also known as cloud-native and cloud-ready) is an application that was developed with the cloud principles of multitenancy, elastic scaling and easy integration and administration in its design.

When developing an application that will be deployed in the cloud, you must keep the cloud principles in mind. They should be taken into account as part of the application.  So we come to the first point: Is it better to work within an existing application or to completely redesign it? There is no exact answer because it depends. You have to evaluate the level of effort (labor, time and cost) to transform the application into cloud-enabled versus the effort to completely redesign it to a cloud-centric application.

The second point is: Will my cloud-enabled application work better than a new cloud-centric application? Here I would say no. It’s rare to find an existing traditional application that was developed with any of the cloud principles in mind. It may be possible to construct the same feel (for the user) as a cloud-centric application, but it will not function the same way internally.

Changing an existing application could be easier since you already have the skills and tools in the organization and you won’t need to learn any new technology. However, while it may be easier to change the application, in the long term it will be harder to maintain. New technologies (social media, mobile, sensors) continue to appear and it is becoming more important to integrate them. Doing this will require additional and continuous effort and may exponentially increase development and supporting costs.

Now comes the third point: What can you use to help expedite the move or redevelopment of an existing application to a cloud-centric model? Many cloud companies have development tools that can help an organization on this path. For instance, IBM has recently announced IBM Bluemix, a development platform to create cloud-centric applications. Shamim Hossain explains the capabilities in more detail in his blog post. Another option is to use IBM PureApplication System to expedite the development.

I discussed some points here that I hope can provide a better understand about an important concept in cloud computing and how to address it. Let me know your thoughts on it! Follow me at Twitter @varga_sergio to talk more about it.

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