One of the most challenging aspects of any cloud or virtualization strategy is how to handle the migration of business-critical legacy applications from their old, familiar environments to a virtual and/or cloud environment. I've spoken to many Windows IT Pro readers that are reluctant to migrate from Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 due to application compatibility issues, and moving those same brittle applications to a private cloud creates yet another challenge for the harried IT administrator.
That's why it's vitally important to do a thorough analysis of all the applications in your IT environment before you consider a private cloud strategy. Here are some things to consider about your applications as you enter the planning phase of your private cloud deployment.
How easily can your apps be virtualized?
Virtualization is a powerful weapon in the IT arsenal, but it isn't always a silver bullet, especially for exceptionally large and cumbersome legacy applications with lots of external dependencies. If an application requires Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6, and a host of other supporting applications in order to function properly, you'll need to consider the possibility of virtualizing an entire stack of hardware and software, from an archaic server OS to outdated client OSes, line applications and other long-in-the-tooth services. Many legacy apps will run just fine in a virtual environment tailored to their specific needs, but you'll need to do your homework to make that a reality.
Do they need additional development work?
Some applications can easily be slipped into a private cloud deployment model, but perhaps they need a small update to make the transition a smooth one. An application that relies on an antiquated HTML interface for data entry may be long overdue for a refresh that brings it up to speed with modern web standards. Making your internal (and external) application development partners a part of your private cloud planning team can save you lots of heartache when the switch is finally flipped on your private cloud infrastructure.
Can external vendors support your needs?
Many IT vendors provide private cloud products and consulting services, but not all of them are created equally, or may be the right fit for your organization. Do you need 24/7 phone support, or have specific requirements -- possibly in the form of a thorny compliance, auditing, or security needs -- that simply have to be met? While the private cloud is all about giving internal IT some of the flexibility and agility of the public cloud, all of those benefits will go out the window (or down with the server) if you have specific needs or requirements that a vendor can't deliver on.
Are more cost-effective solutions available?
Sometimes the solution to a cumbersome legacy application is to swallow the bitter pill and replace it with something newer that is more efficient and cost effective. I've personally had experience with legacy in-house applications that required more time, effort, and maintenance than they were worth. If you're already well down the road of considering moving to a private cloud model for your internal IT resources, it may be a good time to do an honest reassessment of all of your existing applications and see if better, cheaper, faster solutions aren't available.
Do users have adequate training?
As always, even the best IT deployments can run aground if the people that will be using the system on a day-to-day basis aren't given adequate preparation and training. Even the smallest change can throw a wrench into the daily productive of your end users, so be careful to document and communicate any changes to the way people need to access needed applications. One excellent way to communicate changes is to hold a lunch meeting -- along with a few boxes of pizza -- that you can use to demonstrate to your users any upcoming changes in key business applications in your organization. That way you can answer questions as they arise, and work in partnership with your IT customers to jointly resolve problems.
EMC’s Window to the Private Cloud Partner Post:
By Mike Kiersey
Nephophobia is the fear of clouds or phobia of clouds, this is ok if you are thinking about the fluffy white objects in the sky, however this is not the case for most people responsible or accountable for all or some IT services within their organisation. In my mind the “Cloud Computing” can be defined in three key areas:
• Private Cloud, within the four walls of your own datacenter
• Public Cloud, leveraging IaaS, PaaS and SaaS from some of the large providers e.g. Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce.com
• Hybrid Cloud, leveraging existing on premise services and extending out to public cloud for other services
Everyone wants the “business use case” of the public cloud, agility, price, hassle free, simple to consume etc. however in the real world for some customers are still on a transformation path to consolidate and rationalising applications to reduce cost and complexity etc. also the mere notion of relinquishing control of their critical applications to a public cloud provider to manage, store and protect is a tad too far for some customers to sign up too! Fear of control and lack of readiness… Read More