We know by now that cloud computing offers significant benefits, but is it ready for mission critical applications? After all, failure of these applications can result in the failure of the business.
According to a recent survey, concerns about security and availability are the barriers stopping organizations from moving mission critical apps to the cloud. Only about 30%-40% percent of large enterprise applications are in the cloud most of which are for collaboration, conferencing, email and sales force automation.
If the concerns can be allayed, there are benefits the cloud can offer for critical applications, the most important being scalability and reliability. In many cases cloud service providers can provide faster access to additional computing resources and have implemented a higher degree of infrastructure redundancy than individual enterprises have. These same providers can also elastically scale computing resources much more efficiently and cost-effectively, as resources can be shared across their customers.
Service providers have taken note of industry concerns and started to offer services built for these critical applications with higher Service Level Agreements. A perfect example is The Bunker, a UK-based cloud services provider, which provides ultra-secure hosting and cloud services for financial services organizations, technology companies, local government and other regulated businesses that place a premium on secure and resilient IT services. In fact, the company's systems are housed in state-of-the-art, nuclear bomb-proof data centers. This is serious security for their government, financial services and other business customers.
However, cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some applications are a good fit for the public cloud, others are better suited for a private cloud, and some applications shouldn't or can't move to the cloud at all. Additionally, cloud services vary greatly from one provider to another, with different SLAs and capabilities.
When evaluating whether a particular application is suitable for a cloud, some of the factors to consider are redundancy, the application's ability to migrate, performance, security and cost:
What level of system and network redundancy is needed to ensure 7x24 hour application availability, and at what cost? While the highest level of availability could be achieved by duplicating all systems, storage and networking infrastructure, this is an extremely costly scenario that isn't realistic for most enterprises. Instead, an N+1 approach, where individual assets can be the backup for multiple systems, can provide the availability level required at a much lower cost.
If considering a public cloud provider, have they proven they can provide the SLA the app needs? Should you have an alternative provider that can take over immediately in case of a failure or do you need to have a backup system in place internally? What does that require in terms of duplicating data across two sites?
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