Enterprises Taking Off to the Cloud(s)
Cloud Deployment: the enterprise angle
The Cloud is no longer the exclusive realm of the young and small start up companies. Enterprises are now joining the game and examining how to migrate their application ecosystem to the cloud. A recent survey conducted by research firm MeriTalk showed that one-third of respondents say they plan to move some mission-critical applications to the cloud in the next year. Within two years, the IT managers said they will move 26 percent of their mission-critical apps to the cloud, and in five years, they expect 44 percent of their mission-critical apps to run in the cloud. Similar results arise from surveys conducted by HP, Cisco and others. Migrating to the cloud is not simply linear, in most cases enterprises require running multi-clusters, where cloud multi-cluster management needs to be built into operations.
SaaS on the rise in enterprises
Enterprises are replacing their legacy applications with SaaS-based applications. A comprehensive survey published by Gartner last week, which surveyed nearly 600 respondents in over 10 countries, shows that
Companies are not only buying into SaaS (software as a service) more than ever, they are also ripping out legacy on-premises applications and replacing them with SaaS
IaaS providers see the potential of the migration of enterprises to the cloud and adapt their offering. Amazon, having spearheaded Cloud infrastructure, leads with on-boarding enterprise applications to their AWS cloud. Only a couple of weeks ago Amazon announced that AWS is now certified to run SAP Business Suite (SAP’s CRM, ERP, SCM, PLM) for production applications. That joins Microsoft SharePoint and other widely-adopted enterprise business applications now supported by AWS, which helps enterprises migrate their IT to AWS easier than ever before.
Mission-critical apps call for PaaS
Running your CRM or ERP as SaaS in the cloud is very useful. But what about your enterprise’s mission-critical applications? Whether in Telecom, Financial Services, Healthcare or other domains, the core business of the organization’s IT usually lies in the form of a complex ecosystem of 100s of interacting applications. How can we on-board the entire ecosystem in a simple and consistent manner to the cloud? One approach that gains steam for such enterprise ecosystems is using PaaS. Gartner predicting PaaS will increase from “three percent to 43 percent of all enterprises by 2015”.
Running your ecosystem of applications on a cloud-based platform provides a good way to build applications for the cloud in a consistent and unified manner. But what about legacy applications? Many of the mission-critical applications in enterprises are ones that have been around for quite some time and were not designed for the cloud and are not supported by any cloud provider. Migrating such applications to the cloud often seems to call for a major overhaul, as stated in MeriTalk’s report on the Federal market:
Federal IT managers see the benefits of moving mission-critical applications to the cloud, but they say many of those application require major re-engineering to modernize them for the cloud
The more veteran PaaS vendors such as Google App Engine and Heroku provide great productivity for developing new applications, but do not provide an answer for such legacy applications, which gets us back to square one, having to do the cloud migration ourselves. This migration work seems too daunting for most enterprises to even dare, and that is one of the main inhibitors for cloud adoption despite the incentives.
It is only recently that organizations have started to use PaaS for critical functions, examining PaaS for mission-critical applications. According to a recent survey conducted by Engine Yard among some 162 management and technical professionals of various companies:
PaaS is now seen as a way to boost agility, improve operational efficiency, and increase the performance, scalability, and reliability of mission-critical applications.
What IT organizations are looking for is a way to on-board their existing application ecosystem to the cloud in a consistent manner as provided with the PaaS, but while having IaaS-like low-level control over the environment and the application lifecycle. IT organizations seek the means to keep the way they are used to doing things in the data center even when moving to the cloud. A new class of PaaS products emerged over the past couple of years to answer this need, with products such as OpenShift, CloudFoundry and Cloudify. In my MySQL example discussion I demonstrated how the classic MySQL relational database can be on-boarded to the cloud using Cloudify without need for re-engineering MySQL, and without locking into any specific IaaS vendor API.
Enterprises are migrating their applications to the cloud in an increasing rate. Some applications are easily migrated using existing SaaS offerings. But the mission-critical applications are complex and call for PaaS for on-boarding them to the cloud. If the mission-critical application contains legacy systems then not every PaaS would fit the job. There are many cloud technologies, infrastructure, platforms, tools and vendors out there, and the right choice is not trivial. It is important to make a proper assessment of the enterprise system at hand and choose the right tool for the job, to ensure a smooth migration, avoid re-engineering as much as possible, and keep flexible to accommodate for future evolution of the application.
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