Applications identified as suitable for Cloud operation are not simply transferred to a Cloud platform; they typically require some level of structural-tuning/re-architecting to operate optimally in a shared or distributed environment. So be prepared to assess each application’s Cloud-readiness and carefully plan the migration process.
While structural improvements are critical for optimizing performance in the Cloud, the operational context of each application must also be addressed. Operational context covers the functional, data, and service level attributes of an application concerned with fulfilling the business purpose. Unfortunately, operational analysis is not always given equal weight when conducting a readiness assessment.
To conduct a thorough evaluation of an application’s Cloud-readiness, be sure to cover the following operational areas in your analysis:
1. Ensure Thorough Regulatory Compliance
If the application is subject to formal compliance rules and standards, the effort to maintain compliance while operating from the cloud must be carefully examined in terms of:
- Will the configuration envisioned for the application components targeted for the cloud support compliance requirements in terms of processing and data storage?
- How will compliance audits be executed for an application that operates wholly or in part from the cloud?
- What do your organization and the Cloud provider have in place to support audits?
2. Examine Integration with other Applications and Process
Pinpoint all data exchanges and identify the security and performance requirements of these exchanges. Interactions occurring across disparate locations must not be materially slower or less secure than current, localized interactions. In a multi-cloud environment, the amount of data exchanged should be optimized to avoid performance issues and minimize the costs associated with the network usage.
3. Maintain Positive Experience for End Users
Maintaining a positive experience for end users is vital. This means keeping promises, meeting User Agreement requirements and evaluating access to the application. Factors such as single sign-on capabilities for multiple applications must also be evaluated during this stage. Though increasingly popular, single sign-on can present security challenges and, therefore, must be designed and implemented carefully
4. Software Application Deployment for the Cloud
Assess the actual process required to move application components to the target cloud environment. Address how to integrate the migrated components with its points of interaction including: data stores, other applications, operating system and network connections, and where applicable, components of the application itself that are not migrated to the cloud. Also consider the cost effects of the application’s changed footprint, addressing such areas as storage costs, upgrades to supporting software (such as OS, Database, Network), subscription/licensing costs for third party software.
5. Transfer Content and Information
This essential step provides an opportunity to control the quality and quantity of data that is being transferred to the Cloud along with this application. Before transferring any data or content, it will be necessary to evaluate it according to management and regulatory standards, assess the volume of data to be exchanged by this application for performance and cost issues, clean up any data integrity or quality issues and consider post-migration data access.
6. Maintain Application Availability Levels
It is important to identify an application’s availability requirements with precision to ensure that, once migrated, it continues to meet expectations. At a minimum, an application must meet its current standards for availability and data recovery when operating from the Cloud. Moreover, a Cloud provider’s ability to meet availability standards should be carefully scrutinized. For example, “What happens when there is a failure - how robust are the provider’s recovery options? What are the communication protocols established by the cloud provider in the event of an incident?”