How to Move Enterprise Applications Safely to the Cloud

The cloud is still in its early days as a computing environment, with new technologies and vendors evolving rapidly to address the many issues involved in the migration and connectivity between traditional environments and cloud services. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Ellen Rubin discusses five best practices enterprises should follow before they can safely move their applications to the cloud.

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Before moving enterprise applications to the cloud, you need to be sure that your expectations are realistic and your objectives match what the cloud can deliver. The following are five best practices based on my experiences working with enterprise customers-from their initial exploration of cloud possibilities to the deployment of specific applications they've migrated to the cloud.

Best practice No. 1: Determine your cloud objectives

What are you trying to accomplish? Is the cloud a solution for reducing costs, faster provisioning, data center consolidation or all of the above? Sometimes all goals align and the cloud allows you to save money, be more responsive and avoid huge infrastructure investments-all at the same time. But it may not be possible to realize all the benefits for a given organization or use case.

For example, if there's extra capacity in your data center, there may be no obvious consolidation advantage to putting an application in the cloud. However, there could be other issues at play that justify the move such as high operating costs or an infrastructure that makes it difficult for users to get the support they need.

Best practice No. 2: Pick an application that makes sense

For example, how much latency is acceptable to users? The laws of physics slow things down over the Internet and network performance will vary. So if you need millisecond response, the cloud may not work for your application.

Also, how critical is the application? You may not want to put an application in the cloud upon which the business depends-even if infrastructure limitations (scaling, support, response time, etc.) make it seem like an attractive option. Get your feet wet before diving in. A safer approach might be to start with a low-risk, back office (non-strategic) application before setting your sights on more ambitious targets.