The risky business of cloud-ready applications

Migrating an application to the cloud seems easy enough. The elasticity and allure of the cloud are tough to pass up. But not all apps are created equal. Like all things IT, the decision starts and ends with risk factors.

SAN DIEGO -- Determining which enterprise applications should migrate to the cloud is an exercise in risk assessment...

for IT pros. All applications are different, so choosing the best cloud-ready applications depends on many factors.

Cloud-application readiness breaks down into three parts; risk assessment, cloud layer selection and technical assessment, said Drue Reeves, chief of research at Gartner Inc., speaking at the Gartner Catalyst Conference here this week.

The central question IT grapples with today is deciding which apps are cloud-ready applications and which are not. "Where is that dividing line?" he said.

Cloud risk assessment

The first and perhaps most important step is to assess the risk of migrating an app to the cloud, Reeves said. The idea here is to identify ‘show stoppers’ that would immediately halt an application’s cloud move.

If you identify show stoppers, and say 'I'm not willing to risk the revenue,' stop right there. No reason to go on and agonize whether an app is ready for the cloud. It's not.
Drue Reeveschief of research at Gartner

If a cloud provider fails for some reason, and crashes a newly migrated app, which leads to legal issues, this is a show stopper, Reeves said.

If the enterprise is unwilling to risk the financial loss that would be realized by the loss of this application, there is no reason to bring this application to the cloud. It makes more sense to move less critical apps first.

 Next, Reeves said, mitigate your risks and use those risks as a competitive advantage.

"Don’t take unknown risks, but calculated risks," Reeves said. Access control is a first line of defense against a cloud data breach and a way to mitigate risk.

Cloud layer selection

After deciding which application to migrate to the cloud, the next step is to decide where it should live.

"That’s a legitimate concern of mine," said an IT admin for a manufacturing company in the Southeast. "Putting an app in the wrong place and then having to start the whole process over."

Some enterprises must maintain a high level of control because they are unwilling to risk a service provider failure. If enterprises want added control, and the ability to refactor and load-balance, platform as a service (PaaS) is the right choice. If an enterprise doesn’t want to manage the app as a whole, but only the end users, then software as a service (SaaS) makes the most sense.

The technical assessment for each application comes after you select which layer it should reside; technical assessments can differ.

"In the end, when you move the app to the cloud, you need to measure whether you achieved [everything you wanted] or not," Reeves said. "Readiness for the cloud is not a static thing. It could be ready early on and then later, not so much."

So you’ve made the decision to move your apps to the cloud. Now what? Click here to learn how to battle rising costs and a pesky business side.

Adam Hughes is the news editor for the Data Center and Virtualization media group. He can be reached via email at or on Twitter at @AdamHughesTT.

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