The outsourcing environment is extremely dynamic and so are the changes for cloud application management due to new offerings such as virtualization or cloud computing. These developments, while essentially helping companies achieve greater flexibility in their application development roadmap and services rollout to their customers, they also call for companies to rethink their application management approach. Any cloud application development/migration approach should concentrate on the following core aspects:
- Cost reduction
- Minimized risk
- Improved quality
- Speed to market
- Improved governance and transparency
Here are a few of the top pitfalls to avoid, while concentrating on the larger business objectives above.
Pitfall 1: Not rationalizing your applications portfolio
Application rationalization is an important exercise for evaluating your entire IT organization. Rationalization helps you focus on the total cost of ownership by looking for duplicate applications, one-off technologies, applications with few users, and applications with a high cost/user ratio. With your inventory of the current state, the next step is to consider what’s necessary to move from current to the ideal.
A good measure of rationalization is to evaluate the current Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and evaluate the same against future TCO when adopting a cloud based application development approach. A simplified TCO matrix could be as laid out below:
Pitfall 2: Not defining quality norms
Metrics are the key when it comes to quality measures. There are a number of widely recognized best practices that can inject quality into your IT systems and business. One of the most effective ways to define quality is to see how it’s defined elsewhere in your company. Do metrics exist in other departments for defining and measuring quality? If so, adopt or adapt those that make sense for IT
Pitfall 3: Underestimating the spread of the cloud (cloud ‘sprawl’)
Provisioning in the cloud is convenient and quick, which provides both agility and a huge potential for abuse. Migrating too much or moving too quickly can lead to complete loss of control by IT and exponential costs. Remember virtual sprawl? Multiply that by 50. Additionally, it will become even tougher to monitor and report on service level agreements (SLAs) as applications move between physical, virtual and cloud environments. On top of that, you may be required to purchase individual point tools to manage it all.
Pitfall 4: Avoiding platform lock-in
Companies need to be very diligent when choosing cloud applications vendors for their business. Once a cloud vendor has been chosen and has provisioned applications, it is tough to move them elsewhere if the company faces performance or service issues. Cloud providers usually make it difficult to extract the data from their cloud and, in many cases, a third-party tool is needed to migrate that data back on-premise. Companies need to be careful of the exit options, and spell out clearly the data migration options in the event that they need to migrate their applications to a different cloud services partner.
Pitfall 5: Compromised privacy and security
A challenge to running applications in the cloud is knowing where the server that now houses your applications is physically located. There could be jurisdiction issues associated with the applications that you have running in the cloud based on the location of those new servers. Also, the IT person running those servers in the cloud may not understand the sensitivity of the data you have handed over. Remember, your company information is in the hands of someone outside your company wall. Unless the correct processes and performance monitoring are in place, your critical data is at the mercy of the cloud.