To cloud or not to cloud? Today, that is the question on the minds of enterprise IT departments, many of which depend heavily on traditional applications for their day-to-day operations.
If you work in IT you will probably have come across a few of these apps--maybe a five-year-old Java application or a proprietary .NET app that uses SQL servers. These traditional apps may be old, but they are far from "legacy." On the contrary, they often serve business-critical functions.
The problem of what to do with these kinds of apps has sparked a debate, one that divides IT professionals into two camps: those who say "cloud now" and those who maintain that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." This all-or-nothing argument doesn't do IT any good. It ignores the complexity of the decisions that businesses face when deciding which workloads to move to the cloud.
A lot has been written about the benefits of cloud-aware apps--they're better connected, less of a hassle to manage and easier to scale. But here are a few benefits of adopting cloud for traditional apps that aren't mentioned enough:
1. You Can Adopt Cloud Gradually
It's amazing how many companies put off cloud adoption because they aren't sure where to start. Businesses should think of cloud as a process and not a sprint. I've seen some enterprises move into cloud by taking their traditional, monolithic app and teasing it apart, decoupling pieces of the application as a way to work out which parts perform better and are easier to manage in the cloud. For more on this, see my in-depth article: "To Cloud or Not To Cloud: The Uncertain Future of The Traditional Enterprise App"
2. With Cloud You Get More for Less
Because cloud is inexpensive, companies can try it out for different pieces of their app to see what fits. They can create a version of their app, call it a test, break it apart and try to make it work in the cloud. It's low-risk and high-reward, since they can spin up cloud servers and throw them away--all at a fraction of what they're used to paying for traditional infrastructure.
3. Infrastructure Expertise at Your Beck and Call
It may make sense for an IT department to staff some hardware specialists to keep things running smoothly, but how much value is IT adding to the business by staffing a legion of them? Today, managed cloud providers can take over much of the work of keeping infrastructure running at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire. This will free up IT staff to focus on innovative new projects that deliver real value to the business.
4. The Cloud is Redefining the Nature of IT
This is one benefit I don't see discussed much. If your team's business is software, cloud adoption allows you to implement new agile development practices that will keep your business from falling behind your competition. The ability to speed up the development lifecycle and reduce time to market is already proving critical to the survival of many businesses. The evolution of IT isn't just technological; it's a cultural shift--one facilitated by the cloud.
Pushing for every piece of a traditional app to be fully cloud-native at once is a misstep. But it's important that enterprises start exploring which components of their apps can live, and even thrive, in the cloud. Otherwise they risk being left behind in this new era of cloud IT.
To read more on this topic, visit my full-length article, "To Cloud or Not To Cloud: The Uncertain Future of The Traditional Enterprise App."