Going full bore into the cloud is not the best route for every business, and may create more problems than it solves, according James Staten, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester
Staten spoke Wednesday in a presentation at Cloud Connect in Sunnyvale, Calif. He pointed out that data centers in enterprises use legacy equipment and applications that are often not easily moved to the cloud.
“You have to keep in mind in cloud infrastructure is not traditional infrastructure,” Staten said, “You just can’t pick up an app running in your data center and drop it on the cloud and assume it will work. Enterprises aren’t designed to work that way.”
When companies move to the cloud, the assumption often is that it is close to a turnkey operation, but that’s not the case. “Somebody’s expectations [of enterprise cloud customers] are going to be hurt,” Staten said.
When going to the cloud, IT managers may be surprised in some cases that some usability of some applications may be curtailed.
“We assume that IT organizations in enterprises take care of things like reliability and authentication,” Staten said. “Cloud doesn’t do that. We call it the uneven handshake.”
Managers may also assume they will have transparent knowledge of the cloud infrastructure, but that doesn't happen in every case. “In infrastructure-as-a-service, you don’t get to see the servers, you don’t get to see the virtual machines,” Staten said.
Staten said steps need to be taken to bring out the important information in legacy applications and make that information available as Web services, rather than simply shifting these apps to the cloud.
“You don’t drop you legacy apps in the cloud. You transform it, you build bridges to it,” he said.
“For legacy equipment, if you don’t do anything to it, that’s a low total cost of ownership and you save money,” Staten said. “Take the legacy apps and interfaces and surround them with infrastructure that can access the information and expose it to Web services. As you put the functions out, the legacy starts to shrink and that is when cost savings comes in.”
Enterprises should consider how to manage information from legacy apps as they transition to the cloud and plan for some difficulties. “We still have to learn how to use this stuff,” Staten said.