Saturday, January 09, 2010

What apps are likely to move to the Cloud…

Earlier this week, IDC published an interesting survey on what applications are likely to move to the Cloud.   I thought about blogging about this, because they made some good points & observations in their analysis, and it also follows my previous post on application and workload analysis for Cloud Computing nicely.  
I am not going to repeat what’s said in their survey, but wanted to add a couple of points before moving any application to the Cloud:
  • Cost: What is the current annual cost of maintaining and running the existing application?   For most enterprises, cost reduction is the key driver for Cloud, so establishing the cost should probably be one of the first activities in any migration.  [N.B. If the Cloud is considered for new applications, a similar cost analysis should be performed to estimate the initial cost of building the application + estimating the annual ongoing maintenance and operation.  It would be best to breakdown the costs in terms of infrastructure, operation, and solution development & maintenance.]
  • Cloud Selection: Different Clouds offer different capabilities and different charge-back models.  As an example, with Google App Engine, you can upload your web app to Google’s infrastructure.  You’re not charged unless the application serves requests.   Now, contrast that with EC2.  Obviously, you must launch your AMI to start your application, so you’re billed for CPU usage even if the application is sitting idle. Please note that I am not suggesting GAE is better than AWS.  They are different platforms for running different types of applications, and offer different capabilities.  So, Cloud selection is a very important consideration not only with regards to costs, but also in terms of building, delivery, and management of the target solution.
There are many other considerations such as service provider’s alignment with the enterprise in terms of operations, support, compliance, SLA, and technical fit of the Cloud service vis-a-vis the application, etc…
Finally, in the overblown world of Cloud Computing where “Cloud” is myopically restricted to only a few forms such as AWS, GAE, Force.com, etc, it should be noted that many companies have already been using Internet-based services routinely for more than a decade.  These services have been used to fulfill simple functional requirements such as address normalization or tax calculation to more complex business processes (i.e. risk analysis) or business process outsourcing (i.e. order fulfillment) where enterprise data is typically hosted on an external  service provider or tightly integrated with the service provider.  So, in addition to the list of application types that IDC has presented in their survey, hosted solutions and/or BPOs represents another class of candidate applications for “Cloud Computing”.

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