Any applications your company runs on premise can also be run in the public cloud. But does that mean they should be?
While the cloud offers well-documented benefits of flexibility, scalability, and cost efficiency, some applications — and especially business-critical enterprise applications — have specific characteristics that can make them tricky to move into a public cloud environment.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider the cloud as an option, but you should be aware of the following enterprise application needs before you make any migration decisions:
1. Highly customized infrastructure
Enterprise applications often rely on software components that are uniquely configured: they may need very specific storage layouts and security settings or tight integration with certain third-party tools. That makes it hard to replace them with generic platform-as-a-service (PaaS) alternatives in the cloud.
The same is true on the infrastructure side: application software components often need particular network configurations and controls that aren’t available from a typical infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering. (An example would be the way Oracle Real Application Clusters have to allow the cluster software to manipulate network settings, such as controlling IP addresses and network interfaces.)
2. Tightly coupled components
Today’s cloud application architectures are based on “microservices” — collections of services that perform specific tasks. When combined, these answer the whole of the application requirements. With enterprise applications, there are so many interdependencies between the various software components that it can be extremely difficult to change, upgrade, move, or scale an individual component without having a huge impact on the rest of the system.
3. Siloed IT departments
Enterprise applications are usually supported by siloed enterprise IT operations — DBAs, system administrators, storage administrators, network administrators and the like — each with their own responsibilities. Cloud deployment, on the other hand, requires much greater focus on collaboration across the IT environment. This means breaking down traditional silos to create full-stack teams with vertical application ownership. Some teams are likely to resist this change as they could end up with significantly less work and responsibility once the management of application components has shifted to the cloud vendor. So migrating to the cloud isn’t just a technical decision; it has people-process implications, too.
4. Costly infrastructure upgrades
Every company knows upgrading enterprise applications is a major undertaking and can often cause downtime and outages. This is true when the application stays inside your own data center — and doubly so when it moves to a cloud provider due to how long it takes to move massive amounts of data through the Internet and risks associated with unknown issues on the new virtual platform. For these reasons, significant financial commitment is often required to build and maintain an IT team with the right skills to do upgrades quickly and effectively as well as maintain the system.
5. Inflexible licensing models
The components used in enterprise applications are often proprietary products with licensing models that are not compatible with the elasticity of the cloud. For example, many Oracle licenses are for legacy applications and can used only on particular systems. Transferring those licenses to a cloud-based infrastructure is not an easy task.
In addition, perpetual software licenses are often not portable to the typical pay-as-you-go model used by most cloud providers. Plus, most software vendors don’t have any incentive to transition their customers from locked-in perpetual licenses with a steady maintenance revenue stream to a model that allows them to switch to a competitive product at any time.
Even though the nature of enterprise applications makes them difficult to migrate to the cloud, the benefits of doing so — in costs savings, availability, and business agility — still make it a very compelling proposition. In my next blog, I’ll take a look at some of the paths available to you should you decide to move your enterprise applications to the public cloud.
For more on this topic, check out our white paper on Choosing the Right Public Cloud Platform For Your Enterprise Applications Built on Oracle Database.