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The State of the Cloud in Enterprises

10 Mar 2016 by Jessica Hall

Enterprise companies have migrated to the cloud to enhance cost efficiency, app performance, resource management, speed to market and scalability. While there are many benefits to transitioning applications to the cloud, it’s a complex process that demands thoughtful planning and comprehensive consideration.

“Building an app that spends its entire life in the same public cloud is the ideal cloud application model. Stepping outside of this model is more realistic, but it presents challenges for I&O professionals. The cloud conversation often centers on connectivity and movement of apps, increasing interest in open-source tooling to bypass aspects of vendor lock-in, excitement around containers, or API management,” according to Forrester’s report, “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015,” which was published December 1, 2015.

Whether it’s partial or total delivery via the cloud, get familiar with the three key considerations Forrester’s report suggests you should take into account before determining if a particular cloud solution is a viable option for your company.

Migrating existing applications can be a complicated process.

With massive and immovable architecture at their core, applications that weren’t built for the cloud can often hurt productivity with their regular performance issues. To resolve these disruptions, a partial or complete redesign is typically required; however, it’s often labor-intensive, as Forrester’s report points out.

When moving to the cloud, another common challenge is in the sheer size of enterprise applications that use and generate large amounts of data and are often terabytes in scope. Transferring an in-house system to the cloud requires that you consider network performance and latency when selecting the solution used to migrate.

Before making the change, address the following:

  • How can we move massive amounts of data for development and test environments to the cloud?
  • How can we avoid hefty data transfer costs when keeping on-premises environments in sync with those in the cloud?
  • How can we ensure that data is migrated securely and protected when it lives in the cloud?
  • How can we manage burst capacity without incurring prolonged maintenance and infrastructure costs?

You can lose value-add items when moving.

The Forrester report finds that while value-add items provide usefulness and offer faster delivery, many services and templates are specific to individual cloud providers. If you’re looking to make a move, your company will need to determine if these value-add items deliver more value than the provider you’re looking to employ instead. Bear in mind that you can effortlessly move basic functions, such as compute and storage, to a new service, but more complex services require further consideration.

In addition to the four questions listed above, your company should also discuss:

  • Will current and future cloud environments be able to interface?
  • What is the scope of the project, and should we prioritize its complexity over the cost?
  • Will the enhanced performance of the new environment outweigh the cost of the project?
  • Will we be locked in, or can we move and integrate among environments as needed?

API maturity and availability are major factors.

APIs provide connections that help create hybrid, automated opportunities via application-to-application messaging. As the Forrester report points out, these hybrid environments offer challenges in addition to benefits. When connecting software and platforms of various categories, your success depends on the development and growth of the cloud platform API. Your goal of linking these services and solutions may fall short if API availability and maturity do also.

When choosing a Platform as a Service (PaaS) vendor, ensure that they’ll provide the following:

  • SLAs for availability and performance
  • Guidelines for version compatibility for APIs
  • Clear policies for maintenance
  • Version-management policies

Presently, users report that many of the major cloud providers’ APIs provide unreliable results, generate daily variations without notification and lack essential functionality in their library of exposed APIs. However, the fault doesn’t solely fall on the vendor; user error can also play a part. Many organizations don’t have an API management strategy that encompasses standardization, design principles, and a management tool that enhances app-to-app messaging as well as reacts to changes instantaneously. 

Forrester’s report grades the progress and, “…maturity of each interoperability and migration category,” allowing you to make an educated decision of whether to move applications to the cloud.

Download Forrester’s “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015” report to explore key considerations for planning a migration to the cloud or making changes to your existing cloud environments and applications.

Forrester interviewed over 25 enterprise and vendor thought leaders, including Insight, for this report.