Expert: Migrating applications to the cloud involves several decisions

February 15, 2012

The ability to migrate applications to a cloud environment is one of the top reasons organizations adopt cloud computing, but before transferring an existing or new app to the cloud, businesses must consider several factors.

In a recent ZDNet column, technology expert Mike Piech explained why, when and how companies should move applications to the cloud. According to Piech, businesses must consider how the cloud will impact the app, which apps they should first migrate and how transitioning each app to the cloud will benefit the company.

Piech discussed several ways enterprises can move critical business applications to the cloud, as companies can deploy software using Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service or Software-as-a-Service, each of which boasting specific advantages.

"At the IaaS end, you have maximum flexibility, but developers have a lot of work to do. At the SaaS end, there is less flexibility, but developers have minimal work to do," Piech explained. "Most businesses need and want something in the middle, which is why the PaaS model is rapidly gaining momentum."

With limited full-time IT employees and minimal development budgets, the SaaS model could significantly benefit small and medium-sized businesses. Meanwhile, companies with large, in-house tech teams may decide to build their own customized cloud-based applications.

The report cited three major benefits of migrating business applications to a cloud environment. According to Piech, cloud-based apps enable enterprises to improve agility and productivity, concentrate on higher-value business functions and reduce operating costs. The cloud decreases IT costs by improving scalability and eliminating expensive software licensing fees, among other factors.

"As organizations gain experience with migrating to the cloud, new opportunities for increasing agility, focus, and cost savings will emerge, and forward-looking companies will find new ways to transform them into competitive advantage," Piech concluded.

Many businesses are already experiencing the benefits of deploying customer relationship management, business intelligence, human resources and accounting applications in the cloud, and experts believe more companies will adopt models like SaaS as security concerns are erased. According to a recent Yankee Group survey, enterprise SaaS adoption nearly doubled in 2011 and most businesses expected to move more applications to the cloud this year.

-McAfee Cloud Security