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Should you move your existing applications to the cloud?

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There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not to migrate your existing applications into a cloud hosted environment. Not all applications can necessarily thrive in a cloud environment, so a careful analysis of the application and any benefits is needed. Here are a few topics to keep in mind:

Identity management

Mobile applicationsWhere does your existing application store its user database? Does it use a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) repository or local operating system accounts? If it’s a Windows application, does it use Active Directory accounts and can you make those accounts accessible in the cloud? A lot of older applications don’t have the ability to use a federated identity model, and thus require either third party identity tools or existing credential stores to be made available in the cloud (for example, Active Directory trust relationships).

Patching

As I asked in one of my other blog posts, can you control the application of operating system patches for your established applications? Changes to the operating environment have been known to cause application issues in the past.

Privileged operating system access

Does your application require privileged access to the operating system in order to operate, or to be operated? Does your cloud provider enable this? It is not uncommon for applications to require potentially excessive privileges to the hosting platform.

Network conditions

Does your application rely on a low latency connection to another internal application or data store? If so, can that be moved to the cloud also? Is your application tightly coupled to other components, such that an interruption to the communications link between them causes lengthy restore procedures?

Operating system support

Does the cloud provider support the operating system version required for your application? Do you require a re-platform activity or other transformation to move your application to an operating system supported by the cloud? If your application can not be upgraded to a newer operating system, will your cloud provider continue to support that operating system once the vendor stops providing support and patches (think Windows Server 2003)?

Cost

Given the potential transformation costs, particularly when the source system’s documentation and operations staff are scarce, is it more cost effective to wait until the application is replaced before moving functionality to the cloud?

Cloud providers offer a great service that generally provides significant benefit. However, there will always be some application types that need a little more time in their current environment first. Focus on what is best for your application type.

You can reach me on Twitter @MikeJMcGuire for further discussion.

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