|By Chetan Kothari, Ashok Kumar Arumugam||
|July 12, 2010 09:45 AM EDT||
The business value of a cloud model does not require any special emphasis to enterprises. The Infrastructure elasticity promises to offer the desired flexibility that allows businesses to penetrate new and emerging markets without the risk of a significant capital expenditure. The free cash flow made available will allow businesses to increase spending on R&D or other strategic initiatives. For small and medium businesses, Cloud Computing offers an ecosystem that allows them to co-exist, if not compete, with large businesses. For large businesses, it's a natural progression of how IT could better optimize its data centers and deliver more value for the business.
What are the real challenges that make organizations take a cautious, wait-and-watch approach to cloud adoption? The reasons are many. For one, concerns with regard to security and regulatory compliance overshadow other potential means through which one could benefit from cloud. It's necessary to uncover such possibilities for businesses to evaluate the potential of cloud computing. Put another way, we will explore the questions most business leaders ponder over - Is ‘cloud computing' the logical next step for me to successfully execute business strategy? If so, what should be my cloud strategy? Which applications are best suited to run on cloud? These are the questions we will discuss, attempt to answer, and where required, make suitable recommendations.
Is Cloud Computing Right for My Organization?
The challenges with migrating applications to a cloud infrastructure are plenty and range from security, to SLA management, to regulations, to fear of vendor lock-in, to lack of any standards. However, just as it doesn't make sense to move everything to the cloud, it would be unwise not to leverage cloud when an opportunity to benefit from it exists. Adoption models differ across businesses and industry verticals and are largely influenced by their business models, infrastructureand information system assets.
For businesses that rely on maintaining an active social community, where the community drives the growth of its storage and computing infrastructure needs, and where the exposure risk of having the content in public infrastructure is relatively low, a public cloud would be a natural choice. For such businesses that tend to have high volatility in workload, a public cloud frees the business from worrying about IT operational issues and allows them to explore opportunities for increasing their business footprint in newer geographies without risking a huge investment.
Organizations that are risk averse and have concerns with security and compliance regulations would be inclined to explore a private cloud option in the near term. A private cloud infrastructure will enable their workforce to adapt and evaluate the real potential of cloud computing in a closed environment. For large enterprises that have invested heavily in data centers, it's a logical next step.
For ISVs offering their products through traditional license sales, leveraging a cloud platform and offering products through a SaaS model will mean substantial cost optimization and economies of scale that will benefit both ISVs and consumers of their products. It provides ISVs with opportunities to support new customers, to create point solutions for SMBs that were unable to deploy, and manage and maintain their own IT infrastructure for a critical application.
Nevertheless, an assessment of potential applications, their affinity toward different cloud options and business value projections will help you make informed decisions.
Application Portfolio Assessment is a critical exercise, but can easily spiral out of control and fail if its objectives are not well understood or defined. An assessment to determine an application's readiness for the cloud should evaluate the cloud readiness of key applications in the portfolio by rationalizing the portfolio using a multi-dimensional analysis of cloud application characteristics and provide clear recommendations on a suitable migration option - private or public - and migration paths - IaaS, SaaS or PaaS. Further, cost analysis should help assess impact on TCO/ROI and aid in building a business case.
A business's interest in the cloud weighs heavily on the core values it promises to offer - elasticitydeliveredon-demand, and at a cost far less than what a dedicated infrastructure would require. Any cloud assessment would fall short if it fails to factor it. Figure 1 highlights few critical dimensions we recommend upon which the assessment should be done.
Figure 1: Assessment Criteria
Following are indicative guidelines that should be applied to the assessment outcome to determine an application's cloud readiness:
- A positive business outlook for the application will mean better growth prospects for the application, leading to increased workload, criticality and dynamism in the future, thus increasing its cloud affinity.
- A measure of elasticity along three key parameters - workload, storage, and utilization - will yield a more definitive result on an application's cloud affinity. Elasticity of storage and utilization can be derived from existing monitoring infrastructures. An historical log analysis will help characterize application workloads and thus help in arriving at a more meaningful insight on an application's workload pattern.
- Any negative impact on governance, risk and compliance will have a ‘veto' effect on an application's eligibility for hosting on the cloud.
- Finally, technical feasibility of moving an application to a cloud infrastructure, the impact of any architectural change on the application, and the impact on quality of services will require careful consideration. A positive impact on architectural change, such as SaaS enablement of a product, may result in portfolio rationalization, thus boosting the application's case for moving to the cloud.
Applying a weighted scoring model along the above dimensions should yield a fair and just insight on your organization's cloud readiness, and determine if there is value in moving to the cloud.
Much of an enterprise's infrastructure could be serviced by a single internal private cloud comprised of multiple physical data centers. While a public cloud will play a significant role in delivering conventional enterprise compute needs, the private cloud is expected to remain a critical part of the IT infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Key differentiating applications may never move completely out of the enterprise because of their mission-critical or business-sensitive nature.
Some of the above-mentioned criterias like robust security requirements, mission critical applications, and stringent SLA requirements, compliance requirements, dependencies of the workload on large data set will help in any decision pertaining to migrating an application to a private or public cloud.
The business case for cloud application migration is never complete without taking the target cloud platform into consideration. The migration and overhead costs vary widely based on the target cloud platform and thus will skew the estimated cost savings. Cost analysis helps decide whether to go ahead with moving a particular application to the cloud or not from a TCO/ROI perspective.
Cost should include capital expenditure, operational expenditure, and overhead costs involved with migration. Table 1 provides an indicative summary of cost elements that needs to be factored.
Table 1: Cost Considerations
Applications hosted on a dedicated infrastructure should be considered potential candidates for migration to the cloud. Computing differential cost savings for such applications against current workloads should be relatively straightforward. For applications on a shared infrastructure, individual application workload characteristics may have to be determined before arriving at differential cost savings.
Defining a migration strategy involves understanding the various migration options available, establishing business priorities, and evolving a strategy that offers a fine balance between costs and meeting business priorities. Fundamentally, enterprises have the two following options with a cloud infrastructure - private or public. Against these, they have the following migration paths to consider - IaaS, SaaS or PaaS. The choice is driven by priorities such as elasticity, business model, go-to-market strategy and constrained by factors such as technical feasibility, security, migration costs, etc. It's not uncommon for a large enterprise to leverage a hybrid approach in any of the above migration options and paths.
While working with a portfolio of applications, a single all-encompassing migration strategy would not help. Ideally, the migration strategy should be evolved on a per application basis after a thorough evaluation of the applications under consideration. Issues arising out of the migration of hardware infrastructure and architecture should be uncovered and dealt with as part of the implementation strategy.
Migrating applications to the cloud to benefit from its elastic infrastructure services is a quick, cost-effective, and tactical approach to reap the benefits of the cloud. It offers a natural entry point to exploit the value of the cloud platform without any significant overhead costs. The migration will be straightforward, usually a simple re-hosting exercise, with minimal or no impact on application code. This minimizes any risks with migration while still keeping the costs low. However, it must be said that while this offers a cost-effective approach, it does not offer the cost advantage (while delivering services) against competitors who have true multi-tenant capabilities. Migrating applications to cloud vendors like Amazon EC2 or Rackspace fall under this category.
Migrating applications to SaaS architecture and hosting it on a shared services model gives true multi-tenant cost advantage to an enterprise. It helps rationalize a portfolio by removing redundant applications offerings similar services across geographies or lines of business in favor of a single multi-tenant application shared across all its users. However, enabling SaaS architecture on an existing application could be a daunting task as most of the existing applications are designed to be single tenant. The main principle that lay the foundation for this model is in maintaining a single code base of applications for all its tenants and allowing pluggable mechanisms to address tenant-specific extensions. Thus, a convincing ROI is essential to move directly toward a SaaS approach.
Vendors like Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure offer a cloud platform stack that allows businesses to leverage end-to-end cloud services. Although these vendors provide an overall platform to build and deploy cloud-based applications, they put a lot of constraint on the technology to be used on each of the application layers. Due to these technical constraints, existing applications may need significant changes to support the technology stack of the vendor. These factors practically limit the volume of application workload that can be moved to a PaaS model. In general, a PaaS model is considered most suitable when there is scope for ‘greenfield' development. With existing application assets, PaaS may still be a suitable option when considering a ‘rip-and-replace' strategy.
Table 2 provides high-level guidelines can be considered while selecting a suitable cloud migration path.
Planning and Implementation
When considering migrating an application to the cloud, a common pitfall is to focus on only technical or implementation concerns while overlooking other stakeholder and operations concerns. In reality, they are as important as the technical concerns and must be dealt with and rightly addressed. Thus, during migration planning, understand challenges that must be dealt with, categorize them as enterprise, operational and implementation related, and finally, prioritize and deal with them individually (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Migration Planning
At the enterprise level, managing the interests of the various stakeholders involved would be the top priority. Other departments that depend on the information system being migrated will have to make appropriate measures to ensure their day-to-day operations are not hindered. Stakeholders could even be external to the organization such as vendors to whom the operations are outsourced. A suitable migration strategy needs to be put in place to handle such scenarios. The enterprise architecture group or entities with a similar function would play a pivotal role in uncovering such scenarios and highlight potential cost implications to senior management in the interest of the enterprise at large.
At the operational level, IT will need to extend its view to include cloud as an extension of their on-premise infrastructure to deliver better services to business. When setting up a private cloud infrastructure within the enterprise, this would mean providing an alternative service delivery model - offering virtualized infrastructure, and associated management infrastructure to support metering, billing and SLA management for its enterprise applications. Similarly, when migrating to a public cloud, assessing impact on existing service level contracts and renegotiating AMC and service levels should be of priority. In either case, mitigate risks by involving all relevant stakeholders during the migration planning phase. If your applications are outsourced and maintained by an external service provider, involving them early in the process would help make the transition smoother.
At the implementation level, challenges will primarily be around the handling of the movement of voluminous data, establishing failover mechanisms and secure communication channels, validation and verification of migration, to name a few. If you depend on external service providers for implementation, the evaluation criteria for selecting a suitable partner must be put in place. When selecting a partner solution provider, consider the size and resource focus of the organization you are considering. Choose a partner that has already achieved success for an organization similar to yours.
The next step is to do a pilot exercise with a handful of key applications to uncover the adoption risks. It is important to do the first migration right and therefore form a baseline approach to evolve for further application migration to the cloud. Create milestones and proof points that let you evaluate early on whether you are on the right track. Ensure that the individuals assigned to the implementation work have the appropriate skill set and experience.
Tools, accelerators and solution enablers greatly help in any implementation to de-risk and optimize delivery. Table 3 summarize few tools and accelerators that may aid in cloud migration.
In this update, we covered the key activities involved with migrating an application to the cloud. We provided broad analysis dimensions that will help organizations identify a suitable application workload, and transform the existing application workload to the cloud platform. Organizations intending to adopt the cloud computing model would benefit from the suggestions and guidelines covered. The recommendations shared here should be treated as only prescriptive, and may vary based on the industry segment and nature of the assets.
We recognize that every organization has its own unique challenges to face and circumstances to deal with. While cloud offers a compelling value proposition, it is also a highly disruptive change and, thus, businesses must be aware of the workforce dynamics within the organization, and take all its key stakeholders into confidence before making the decision.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Jan. 31, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 3,880
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Jan. 31, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 2,678
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
Jan. 31, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,045
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
Jan. 31, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,952
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
Jan. 31, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,776
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Jan. 31, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 8,135
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Jan. 31, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,769
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 31, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 3,691
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Jan. 31, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,824
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Jan. 31, 2015 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,378
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Jan. 31, 2015 11:15 AM EST Reads: 3,280
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
Jan. 31, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,521
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Jan. 31, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 3,424
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Jan. 31, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 2,748
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Jan. 31, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 3,297
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Jan. 31, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 2,601
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Jan. 31, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,472
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Jan. 31, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,927
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Jan. 31, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 3,262
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Jan. 31, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 3,267