Rise above the cloud hype to evaluate which apps should stay in-house

Cloud computing can be a real money saver, but it's not right for every workload. Know when to ignore the cloud hype and keep apps in-house.

As happens so often, the latest technology is hailed as the solution to every problem that ever existed. Later we learn the new innovation isn't suited to every task and past methods can still work today. As senior managers fall for the cloud hype, IT professionals will need to step back and evaluate whether the cloud is the right place for their applications.

Cloud computing offers an elastic pay-as-you-go service. Capacity is available on demand and most workloads are auto scaling and disposable. Naturally, there are applications that are great candidates for cloud computing, but there are others more suited for in-house servers, and IT management needs to ignore the cloud hype and assess which applications should get a cloud makeover.

One of the ways to decide whether to put applications in the cloud is to consider who uses them. If an application is used by a large number of people dispersed over a large geographic area, like customers or the entire staff of a global company, then the cloud might be a great choice. On the other hand, if the application is used by 50 people at a manufacturing plant, then it might not be a good candidate for the public cloud. Systems that control the manufacturing plant should also stay close to the plant, rather than in the cloud.

Many times, cloud hype is justified for test and development systems that don't have a long lifespan. Public cloud providers get very expensive for workloads that need to remain up and operational all the time. Unglamorous infrastructure services, like file or print servers, keep the business running and should remain in-house.

Read more lessons from cloud IT

Cloud-based applications are the future

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Network connectivity should also be a major factor in your decision over whether to move an application to the cloud. If the business or its customers are located outside of a major city, network disruptions are a real possibility. If network connectivity to the cloud provider is disrupted, you can no longer access your applications in the cloud. On the other hand, you simply need to be in the office on a local network to access applications running on servers in the office. This connectivity example can work both ways, however. Customers can access cloud applications even when the office network is down.

Some applications are suited to run in the cloud and some are probably better off running on conventional servers in a data center. Knowing the applications and how they are used is critical for IT managers making decisions about what applications to move to the cloud and which to keep where they are.

This was first published in August 2013

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