Cloud computing has become increasingly utilized for mission-critical enterprise applications. However, enterprise concerns, including security and availability, have prevented some IT and business decision-makers from migrating crucial programs to the cloud.
Choosing the right cloud platform for enterprise applications
In fact, a recent Network World article authored by John Humphreys noted that only 30 to 40 percent of large enterprises are currently running applications in the cloud, the majority of which are used for collaboration, email and Salesforce automation.
Cloud service providers that offer enterprise-class cloud computing services can help decision-makers overcome these worries by underscoring the scalability and reliability that their solutions can bestow upon key applications.
"In many cases, cloud service providers can provide faster access to additional computing resources and have implemented a higher degree of infrastructure redundancy than individual enterprises have," Humphreys wrote. "These same providers can also elastically scale computing resources much more efficiently and cost-effectively, as resources can be shared across their customers."
While building applications off infrastructure-as-a-service platforms typically provide the greatest level of security, not all mission-critical apps are suited for just one particular cloud model. Some may work better in the public cloud, whereas others should not be migrated at all. To determine which applications are most compatible with the various cloud platforms, some factors to consider include redundancy, the ability to migrate, security, costs and performance.
It's also important to evaluate whether an application is actually ready to move to the cloud. Much of today's business apps were written for legacy technology, and therefore aren't always viable for virtualization and portability. Specifically, some may run on older operating systems, lack necessary security, require outdated drivers or use legacy databases – many of these obstacles become apparent when considering the move to public platforms, according to Humphreys.
Private cloud for applications
The private cloud, in comparison, has become a more popular choice for enterprises shifting mission-critical applications to the cloud, particularly because of its enhanced security safeguards.
For example, private cloud spending within the U.S. federal government is estimated to reach $1.7 billion in 2014; whereas for the public cloud, projections are only expected to top $118.3 million. This trend is not just limited to government, as large enterprises increasingly take on the same concerns of federal IT.
"In the enterprise world, while security concerns remain, they are lessening as enterprises get more experience with cloud services and as service providers focus on enhancing security," noted Humphreys.
According to a recent GigaOM survey conducted in conjunction with North Bridge Venture Partners, security as a barrier is decreasing each year, from 55 percent of respondents in 2012 to 46 percent this year.
Enterprise IT is beginning to find public cloud alternatives more appealing, especially as private clouds present more flexible and cost-effective incentives for a company's infrastructure. Cloud service providers that offer white label cloud environments have become an attractive solution to many businesses. Firms like Peak, which traditionally cater IaaS clouds to enterprises, have expanded their offerings to include advanced solutions that can bridge various cloud models to accommodate the demand for hybrid platforms. The aforementioned study noted that hybrid clouds will become the most prevalent model within five years.
"The important point is that decisions about moving to the cloud need to start from an application standpoint, with a thorough consideration about viability, availability, performance, security and cost," Humphreys concluded. "Doing this work will point to the right cloud – public, private or hybrid – or maybe no cloud at all."