How to Leverage Cloud Computing While Preserving Workflows Between Applications

The proliferation of affordable, scalable cloud environments such as Amazon EC2 and Microsoft's Windows Azure leads innovative IT decision makers to seek ways to leverage these technologies, but the decision to incorporate cloud-based computing can present several roadblocks. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Bill Humphrey explains how to keep existing workflows between mission-critical applications preserved during and after the addition of cloud-based computing.

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In today's technological age, cloud computing is increasingly ubiquitous. Savvy IT and business decision makers who seek to leverage these technologies should evaluate the platform, mitigate risks and look for a single point for data integration, data governance and cost-effectiveness. This has to be done while preserving SLAs (service-level agreements) for mission-critical applications that span both cloud and on-premises applications/workflows.

However, I often find that organizations are unprepared for the vast array of options and flexibility that cloud computing offers. Advances and demands in cloud computing raise valid questions about platforms, tool sets, compliance and security.

To help address these concerns and get the most value out of the platform, you should focus on four tasks: assess targeted workflows, plan for data security, build in robust integration and connectivity for cloud and on-premises needs, and monitor and maintain workflows for both internal and external SLAs. Let's take a closer look at each task:

1. Assess targeted workflows

Most companies want quick ROI and minimum upfront investment, so you need to be realistic and honest. Review the needs of the business and create a short list of target workflows. Remember to ensure continuity in workflow for a brief period of time in order to compare results.

For example, you don't want to risk overlooking the Accounts Payable/Receivable processes or the Support workflow in a process move. Involve an executive sponsor, project manager and business unit representative to help you fully understand important workflows and avoid costly remediation downstream.