The major advantages that accompany cloud hosting have driven countless companies to migrate their mission-critical applications to remote servers. By allowing staff to utilize key software programs via the Internet, many businesses have seen employee satisfaction and overall output increase simultaneously, as it suddenly becomes possible to accomplish tasks in a much wider variety of locations on any Web-connected device.
When it comes to building new applications, businesses that have already adopted cloud services typically have the tools they need to get started: A Platform-as-a-Service offering makes building cloud-hosted apps eminently easy. Moving legacy software into the cloud, however, is often a more complex proposition. For many small and mid-sized businesses with limited time and high growth rates, rebuilding the most vital apps from scratch for utilization in the cloud may not be an option. Firms must find the migration path that works best for their specific needs. What are some of the key considerations during this process?
One of the first questions to ask when moving your application to the cloud is how sophisticated the program is. You'll need to choose a cloud environment that allows the software to run at its optimal level of performance. Simpler apps might not need very much network capacity or compute power, while complex applications will demand more. In a column for The Next Web, tech expert Ian Gotts recently pointed out that many businesses don't address this issue fully during their cloud migrations.
"Everyone focuses on the hardware and application when they think of the cloud. But there is also the network, which is often the major factor in the performance of the service," Gotts wrote.
With the right cloud vendor, you should be able to select the appropriate amount of capacity for your important applications so that you're neither overpaying for network space nor suffering from poor performance.
Another key consideration is what level of cloud security your application needs in order to eliminate potential vulnerabilities and reduce risk. Does the program utilize data that is particularly sensitive or regulated by information privacy laws? Is the app so critical to business operations that your company would essentially grind to a halt if it did not have access to this resource? Your answers to these questions are important in determining what security protocols you need - what level of encryption should be used, for example, or whether the app should be hosted in a private rather than public cloud environment. You'll also need to have small business data backup solutions in place to ensure effective disaster recovery and continuity.
Improving business efficiency is many companies' primary motivator for migrating applications to cloud hosting environments. But in order to achieve this goal, it's important that the most commonly used programs be delivered and designed in ways that support employee productivity and provide them the flexible workflows they need in order to optimize their performance. For example, if your workers are taking advantage of a mobile policy and using smartphones and tablets to do their jobs, you should consider delivering key programs as business mobile applications.
Companies' migration paths must also ensure that the app will function within the existing cloud infrastructure. Whether or not the program is integrated effectively has a direct impact on its functionality once the move to the cloud is finally complete.
"The real answer is to rebuild the application so it is multi-tenant and will scale correctly when deployed onto any cloud architecture," Gotts suggested.
If you're considering any changes to your cloud infrastructure - adding a private component to a currently all-public cloud, for example - be sure you know where and how your applications will fit into the new architecture before you begin the migration process.