Moving business functions to the cloud? What you should know

What do companies need to know before they move their business functions to the cloud?

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James Staten

Most of what they need is an understanding of what is actually different about the cloud. [Not understanding] this leads to all sorts of problems, from the cost savings not coming through, [to] the applications not performing like they want to, to -- when they get into negotiating on terms -- not understanding how they should actually approach that negotiation. These are all significant issues that really do stem from a lack of proper understanding and education.

It's not that difficult to migrate an application to a cloud platform. The challenge is in getting it to perform and to be as available as you want. Most people think, "If I can virtualize it, I can put it in the cloud." And while it's true that you can put it in the cloud, you can almost guarantee it will fall over and fail. This has to do with the fact that clouds run on as close to commodity infrastructure as possible in order to deliver you the cost savings that you're seeking.

This means that it's the responsibility of the application to maintain its availability and performance through either proper configuration of the application or through redesigning the application so that it can survive component failures. This is where most companies get themselves in trouble. Most enterprise applications that run inside of data centers assume that [there is a] highly reliable and highly available infrastructure -- and that's not the case in the cloud.

Editor's Note: This answer about moving business functions to the cloud is excerpted from an interview with James Staten, Forrester vice president and principal analyst, conducted by assistant site editor Stephanie Mann.

This was first published in November 2012

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