Maybe you’ve just moved your first application from on premise to the cloud. Perhaps you have transitioned your first 10 business processes, or first 100, or your whole enterprise now glows with the silver lining of a cloud provider of choice. Whichever stage you are at in your cloud journey, don’t be fooled – the risk of being left behind may be greater now than it was when you were happily nestled on your own server, safe in your cozy but expensive, slow to change data center.
Cloud, offers the lure of limitless elastic computing and storage capabilities, twined with potentially huge savings in operational overhead. It can power, but does not define, the digital transformation of your organization. Whether you adopt a multi-tenant software-as-a-service model or decide to migrate your existing on-prem apps to a platform-as-a-service cloud provider, the risk of your business being left behind because of operational constraints has not diminished by much, if at all.
The SaaS model might offer seamless, non-disruptive updates to the application platform, but limits your ability to customize or diversify your applications. You can grow your existing business functions but are confined to a rigid cloud provider delivery model. The performance of your apps can be adversely affected by the workload of a different tenant, and can woe-betide you if you decide to go outside the norm of acceptable application customizations. You will be quickly labeled as a “custom customer”, and left to fend for yourself, lacking regular updates. Sound similar to the local utility company telling you what to cook for dinner with your gas supply? Since when did you conduct your business on someone else’s terms?
The PaaS model allows you to migrate your own on-prem apps onto a more independent cloud platform. You are not affected by the workload of others, can operate in a public or private cloud setting, and have greater business flexibility. But unless your apps are designed to work with the elastic, transient nature of a cloud architecture, you won’t be able to reap benefits like true cost and scalability. In the PaaS cloud model, the application is yours, but you share the underlying operational infrastructure. That means that your applications will need to be upgraded in conjunction with other infrastructure updates and security patches. Without a fast, non-disruptive way to upgrade your migrated applications, they risk being left behind on older software and infrastructure with all the security and stability risks this entails.
Whether you choose SaaS, PaaS, or a mixed cloud strategy, common sense has to prevail – the need to align the technology strategy with the needs of the business does not change because of cloud. Don’t get seduced by the plethora of cloud tools and fashionable technical integration options and jargon. Instead, take a regular inventory of your key enterprise business processes and align them with your business roadmap and applications.
- How do you want to gain access to your data?
- How frequently do the business processes and rules change?
- Do the application vendors you work with offer to run on a choice of cloud platforms, or do they lock you in?
For applications where the business processes are under constant development and change, ensure that the application can support modern Enterprise Agile Dev-Ops integration, so you can align your organization with a more agile CI/CD culture. If you’re looking to migrate existing on-prem application platforms to a PaaS cloud model, be sure to understand how they will be upgraded to later versions, patched, and maintained. All on-prem to cloud application migrations have to undergo architectural and functional retrofit to reduce technical debt and work in a genuine cloud native infrastructure.
By carefully assessing and planning these factors in concert with your digital business strategy, you stand to get the balance right, stay current, and reap the rewards that a genuinely scalable, agile cloud transformation can offer.