SaaS/IaaS - Why or Why Not

Posted On 2013-10-21 by dwirch
Tags: General Blog 
Views: 581

IT organizations are exploring methods to migrate applications from internal data centers to external infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Thinking about it ?

Moving applications to HIaaS cloud providers includes challenges, such as virtual machine (VM) conversion, lengthy migration times, and hardware compatibility that hamper migration efforts.

Thus, organizations must consider how to migrate applications to the cloud, which processes work, and what factors contribute to failure.  

Important Factors to Consider 

The first question that must be asked is not “How do I move my application to the cloud?”.  Rather, the question should be “Why should I move my application to the cloud?”  The answer should be simple.  There should be a solid business case for moving an application unchanged to a new platform.  What is the change imperative? What is the compelling reason?  In short, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

When the internet is down, so is your business 

Moving critical applications to a cloud service provider makes connectivity critical.  For our primary POS, this would mean moving back to pen and paper for working with customers and workers.  A good example of this was the Amazon AWS outage of April 2013, in which many large cloud-based companies were taken off line for an extended period of time.  Or the outage of August 14, 2013, in which email services were unavailable for more than seven hours.   

The cloud doesn’t always save money 

One appeal to cloud services is that a monthly fee generally takes care of everything.  However, most companies made a significant investment has been in hardware procurement for the provision of technology services.  Throwing this hardware away also means tossing out the investment in it.   

Moving to the cloud takes data out of your hands 

A large amount of the data contained within a company's infrastructure contains large amounts of worker data, as well as customer data.  Cloud providers promise strict security policies and procedures, and most times they succeed.  However, keep in mind that purported unbreakable security is a favorite target of miscreants.   

Further, if you move your application or data to a cloud service provider, where is that data to be held.  Keep in mind that not all countries have same privacy laws, in which recovery of confidential information may be easily acquired by third parties 

Playing nice with others 

Interoperability with existing systems needs to be seriously examined.  If the application is currently relying on other systems or services, some of which may reside at the corporate datacenter as well as other SaaS services, will the application still be able to function without the services or systems? 

  • Does your email system live in the cloud, or in the corporate datacenter ?  How will applications and users interact with email ?
  • What about file servers or repositories?  Do you have home directories or common file shares hosted on a SAN or NAS ?  How will users and applications interact with the file repositories, if needed?
  • Will your corporate internet connection be taxed ?  How about remote locations ?  Do remote locations connect to the internet (and thus the cloud provider) through the corporate office ?  Will the internal *and* external connections be able to handle the additonal load?
  • Is there a data pruning plan in place for archiving of data over a certain age? How will backups be accomplished?  Data management is an oft overlooked part of the puzzle. 
  • How will the software be monitored?  Will current monitoring tools be able to monitor cloud-based services as they are now? 

In short, integration with existing systems and legacy interfaces has to be a key consideration when moving an application to IaaS or a CSP. 

Understanding migration 

Prior to migrating an application to the cloud, the following items should be fully understood: 

  • Migrating applications to the cloud normally demands a manual process of deploying fresh cloud templates, reinstalling applications, and moving data. 
  • Emerging Virtual-To-Cloud (V2C) migration tools attempt to automate a migration from a traditional server virtualization environment into a cloud environment.  These tools are not quite enterprise ready because they are limited by hypervisor type, guest OS, cloud provider, and VM size.: 
  • The V2C migration process is time consuming and prone to failure; the VM size and movement across networks are a major contributing factors. 
  • Existing V2C migration tools such as Amazons VM Import and VMwares vCloud Director are nascent and do not provide much visibility, insight, or assistance to the IT department. 
  • Before selecting a CSP, IT organizations should ensure importing VMs is on the CSP’s 12-month road map. 
  • Hybrid cloud software and migration tools are emerging, but they are point-to-point, often unidirectional, limited in their use case, and expensive due to lofty license fees associated with them. 

Migrating VMs from an internal data center to a CSP is problematic, time consuming, and limited to specific point-to-point solutions. Gartner research reveals that IT organizations desire to move VMs to HIaaS clouds in an automated process similarly to how they conducted P2V migrations in the past. However, organizations should avoid a direct comparison between V2C and P2V because traditional P2V migrations do not cross network boundaries with data. Furthermore, V2C tools are many years behind in maturity compared with P2V.  


IT organizations desire to conduct V2C migrations, but today's market lacks maturity for most scenarios. Additionally, these migrations are time consuming and problematic. Most IT organizations should wait for tools to mature in terms of automation and performance before committing to V2C. As for now, organizations that need to migrate applications should do so by manually redeploying applications to the cloud provider.  

It should be noted that a successful cloud migration is possible.  A good framework for a favorable application migration can be realized by following a solid guidance framework.  

About the Author

dwirch has posted a total of 189 articles.

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