99 problems but the cloud ain’t one: Moving legacy apps to the cloud

With shrinking IT budgets it is crucial that businesses ensure they are spending their IT budget wisely. As a result, organisations are already taking advantage of the economies of scale that cloud computing offers.

However, despite the benefits being clear, businesses still have applications running on legacy environments. Moving legacy applications to the cloud is one way to reduce operating costs and relieve staff from managing tasks that are better served in the cloud, freeing them to focus on tasks that contribute to business growth.

The key drivers for moving legacy apps to the cloud:

  • The high cost – maintaining legacy applications is eating into a huge chunk of IT budgets
  • Accessibility and availability – businesses need applications to be accessible from anywhere and anytime, many legacy systems do not support this
  • Internal support – it is becoming increasingly difficult for staff to support applications using outdated technology
  • Flexibility and scalability – businesses need to be able to adapt quickly to keep up with customer demands which will ultimately impact its business growth

Moving legacy applications to the cloud is a great alternative for many organisations due to the flexible nature of the cloud and it’s potential to reduce operational costs. Migration isn’t painless and can be complicated, costly and lengthy depending on the applications and the approach taken. However, most find that this investment of time and resources is worth it when the long term gains are considered.

Key considerations when planning

  • Understand the complexities involved in the current legacy system and identify the features that are required or that need to be enhanced
  • Understand the cost, time and resource constraints – this can help you to decide the number of components of the existing application that will be transferred to the cloud
  • Plan for testing the application – this is a critical part of the process, moving the application to the cloud has multiple parameters that need to be tested before it can go live
  • Evaluate and ensure that the upgrade doesn’t interfere with existing SLAs or compliance and security needs
  • Identify the applications that would make the best fit to be transferred to the cloud. Although some applications can seem to be a good fit they still might require tweaking and multiple testing cycles

Ways of moving to the cloud

There are multiple ways to move to the cloud and a number of other considerations to think about before embarking on a big project like cloud migration. Here are a few of the available options:

  • Completely re-engineering the identified application making it cloud enabled and in the process enhancing the application features to better meet the needs of the business
  • Hybrid model – making subtle changes to the identified application architecture and porting elements of the application onto the cloud
  • Moving to a SaaS model – replacing the identified application with something that is already available on the cloud, sometimes it is prudent to replace inhouse apps as opposed to re-engineering them

You will also have to decide whether to choose a Private, Public or Hybrid cloud model for hosting your applications. This decision should be based upon your security requirements and the level of control the application requires.

One of the most critical parts of the process when moving the applications to the cloud is choosing the right vendor to work with, as the migration can have a high overhead from a cost, time and skill perspective. It requires engineering skills, application expertise, technology knowhow and the ability to stay within budget and the right vendor partner should help you make well informed decisions around the approach to migration and assist in some of the complexities that this involves. It is also important to ensure that the vendor you choose has the capabilities to manage and host your cloud enabled applications whilst helping you to control the levels of cost, SLAs and security that your business needs.

Once you have evaluated, planned and deployed applications in the cloud you will soon be able to realise the benefits of the migration through IT budgets being freed up and staff able to be deployed on value add projects.

Vivek Vahie is senior director at NaviSite India

Image credit: Shutterstock/Oleksiy Mark