Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Rethinking The Cloud - The Need For Cloud-Jumping Enterprise Applications

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 1, 2013

Google-funded CliQr helps enterprises move any application to any cloud. Turning cloud providers into commodity services.

By Gaurav Manglik, CEO CliQr Technologies

For many businesses the promise of cloud computing has been the ultimate paradox. What company can argue with having access to almost infinite, third-party supplied and staffed information technology resources on-demand, topped off with a utility billing model that allows companies to only pay for what they use?

Yet even with these promised efficiencies, moving to the cloud remains intimidating for many organizations.

So what's the barrier to entry?

Despite the many promises, most activity around the cloud still involves large companies deploying merchant cloud infrastructures (such as AWS, Microsoft, HP, Google, etc.), simple web 2.0 apps, or using one of the new PaaS platforms to develop new applications for the cloud.

But what about the estimated ten's of millions of enterprise applications -- most of which were architected to be able to scale and leverage the elasticity of the cloud?

In many cases, the answer is simple -- it has been hard due to costly and complex required migrations, unknown costs and performance, and concerns about security on the cloud.

What's needed to really unleash the cloud for businesses?

Let's look:

- Maturation of Cloud Infrastructure Providers. The majority of these providers have only been generally available for less than two years and businesses are looking for stable platforms, reasonable pricing and staying power.

- Strong Service Level Agreements (SLA's). SLA's have only just begun to become more robust based on market demand with businesses wanting SLA's approaching what they expect in their own operational environment.

- Migration Simplicity. Despite what seems to be hundreds of migration vendors, most incumbents make it hard to get to the cloud.

In addition, the majority of these vendors make cloud portability questionable, and in instances when portability is provided, application visibility, scaling and monitoring is compromised unless hard-wired scripting is developed, again compromising portability.

Businesses want a means to move applications to the cloud without having to re-code them, or create a bunch of scripts and cloud-specific virtual machine (VM) images.

-Managed Risk. No more "Blind Corners." Businesses are now sophisticated enough to know that some clouds can support their apps and some architecturally cannot.

They know that some perform better than others with different types of applications and they know that pricing on the cloud continues to change extremely fast. Businesses want to concretely understand these variables before - NOT AFTER - committing to move an application to the cloud.

Not being able to make informed decisions makes it very difficult to confidently move one or more apps to one or more clouds.

- No Cloud Lock-In. To date, most migration tools and approaches have been cloud-specific. Despite messaging around "multi-cloud," incumbent migration vendors require multi-migration efforts to get from one cloud to another for all but the simplest web apps.

Businesses have identified the fact that they do not want to trade the constraints of their own datacenter resources for the constraints of a single cloud provider, especially given the immaturity of the industry.

Companies today want to not only move to, and between, any public cloud with NO additional migration work, they want to be able to move fluidly between private, public and hybrid cloud environments.

- Enterprise/Cloud Connectivity. Very few applications a business uses in production are, or can be, completely siloed on the cloud. Businesses require a means to actively and securely coordinate with other applications, data sources or services such as analytics, license management, printers, fax, etc., that reside in an on-premise datacenter.

This is the true extended enterprise and is required for enterprise-class cloud computing.

- Security. While most clouds provide a secure infrastructure, businesses require more. They need the final layer of cloud security to be able to protect their data and applications as they move to and between clouds, along with key management and network isolation.

The use-cases and benefits of cloud computing are real and understood. With any new topological approach to computing, innovation and new vendors are rapidly emerging with completely new approaches to transparently placing application workloads on the cloud.

For the first time this can be done by enabling newly developed and legacy applications to be moved to the cloud optimally and securely by de-coupling the need to have any knowledge of disparate cloud infrastructure architectures.

This approach uniquely enables applications to fluidly move to, and between, any private, public and hybrid clouds without requiring any costly, complex migration.

This liberation of an application from the inherent constraints of any specific cloud supports choice, portability, benchmarking of price and performance across cloud environments, and ultimately enables free market pressures between cloud providers that will inevitably enhance their offerings, SLA's, security and ensure competitive pricing.

As these forces come into place, businesses will be able to unleash the real potential of the cloud.

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