Avoid these mistakes when migrating applications to the cloud

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applications to cloudIt must be nice to be a startup, with no legacy infrastructure weighing you down. Write a great app, provision yourself some space in the cloud, and your business is global, just like that.

For the rest of the world, however, life is not so straightforward. Any business of consequence, or older than 10 years, has plenty of baggage: proprietary technology, complex IT architectures, and aging applications. And there is one rather intimidating process standing between these companies and the  benefits of the cloud: migration.

“Approximately 65 to 75 percent of the applications that exist in enterprises right now, today, will benefit from moving to the cloud … depending on the age of the company, how well the applications are architected, those sorts of things,” says David Linthicum, senior vice president of Cloud Technology Partners. Linthicum recommends identifying and categorizing enterprise applications, then determining what the cost and effort would be to move them to the cloud. Often a proof-of-concept trial is helpful, from which you can build a business case for migrating applications you’ve identified as good candidates, he says. “It’s something every enterprise should go through these days. Because you may be missing the boat, you may be leaving millions and millions of dollars on the table that can be allocated to more innovative things in your enterprise.”

As you consider moving applications to the cloud, it’s important to learn from others’ migration mistakes. And there are many of them. Here is a list of five common mistakes, both mental and technological, to avoid when embarking on your migration to the cloud:

1. Incompatibility

When moving applications to the cloud, the transition will go much smoother if the cloud service provider offers the same operating systems and middleware environments (down to the version number) that you are using in your own data center. The benefit of this compatibility is that applications can be moved to the cloud without requiring significant rewrites — saving time, money, and frustration. Some enterprises might want to make performance enhancements to take maximum advantage of the cloud service provider’s hardware capabilities, but the fewer application changes that must be made the better.

2. Not enough/too much security

As with most everything related to IT these days, security should be top of mind. When moving any application out of the relative safety of the data center to a third-party environment, there must be security considerations. The amount of security you apply to a cloud-based application should depend on the sensitivity of the data it deals with. For applications that deal with highly sensitive information, consider access controls, authentication, and encryption. And don’t forget about compliance requirements that apply regardless of where the application is running. However, applications that deal with more mundane data won’t need as much protection; in fact, adding too many security layers may prove to slow down processes and frustrate users.

3. Fools rush in

Deciding to move most of your application portfolio to the cloud may seem like you’re taking a proactive stance to benefit the company, but you might regret it. A better approach is to start slow by moving one application – preferably a non-critical one that doesn’t deal with highly sensitive data — to the cloud. Pick an application that has a high chance of success of moving to the cloud smoothly (for example a recently developed mobile app, as opposed to a 20-year-old back-end application) and that will make a positive business impact (save money, boost productivity, reach new customers, etc.). Once the ROI is achieved, promote these benefits within the organization. Repeat.

4. All or nothing

Despite the many benefits that migrating applications to the cloud can offer, it’s not necessarily the right choice for every application. For example, complex legacy applications might take more work and investment to move to the cloud than is worth it. However, for each new application that’s developed or deployed, consider the cloud and weigh the pros and cons against developing or deploying it in house. Chances are the cloud will emerge as the right choice.

5. Subscribe and forget

One of the top benefits of signing on with a cloud service provider is being able to wash your hands of the management and maintenance of migrated applications– but that doesn’t mean you are without responsibility. This is particularly true if you’ve decided to take a hybrid cloud approach, for example where an application runs in the cloud but makes calls to a database located in your data center. Someone needs to be on top of that integration and communication, so make sure you have experienced staff who can not only help develop and implement your cloud strategy, but keep it running smoothly.

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