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Application Migration to the Cloud?

Application Migration to the Cloud?   Explore Your Options.

Written by David Linthicum exclusively for Nelson Hilliard

Now that enterprise applications are moving to the cloud in a big way, those in enterprise IT need to understand the major paths they can take. 

Enterprises are moving hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications to the cloud.  This was once a straightforward but confusing process that focused on just lifting and shifting the application.  These days, there are other emerging patterns or options to consider. 

Lift and shift is the most popular way to migrate applications, and was really the only option that enterprises followed in the past.  It’s cheap, it works, it’s fast, and American businesses love those things. 

Other migration options include containers and cloud native.  If lift and shift means not exploiting cloud native features, then cloud native is the exact opposite.  Applications are modified to take advantage of cloud native capabilities, such as provisioning and de-provisioning resources, directly from the application versus having the cloud itself auto scale, or auto provision.

Containers are the new approach, and kind of work somewhere between lift and shift and cloud native.  Modifications to the application still need to happen, but you’re not writing to a specific cloud.  Instead, you break up the application to be encapsulated into containers, such as Docker.  The containers abstract the application from the underlying platform, thus the application should be portable to other platforms that support the same container standards. 

Containers can be orchestrated and clustered from tools such a Kubernetes or Swarm, and the ecosystems around containers continue to explode.  The tradeoff is that there is some additional work, but your application should be portable from cloud-to-cloud, unlike cloud native.

The purpose of discussing options is to provide some simple advice to those who are about to embark on an application migration project:

    • Understand what your applications do, and define their importance to the business. 
    • Assign a complexity ranking for each application, as to the amount of work required to redesign or refactor each application. 
  • Use your options for all applications.  It will never be all lift and shift, all cloud native, or all containers.  Map your path based upon what solution provides the best value for the business. 

Few will argue that the cloud is a great platform for the future.  Today, I suspect some enterprises may not be using all of their cloud options.

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David S. Linthicum is a managing director and chief cloud strategy officer. David is internationally recognized as the worlds No.1 cloud computing industry expert, pundit and thought-leader.

(Disclosure: David Linthicum’s views in the blogs, video shows and podcasts are his OWN and are NOT financially sponsored by Nelson Hilliard)

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