Five Ways to Migrate Applications to the Cloud
Migration strategies organizations should consider when moving to the cloud.
It would be fair to say that in the last year the dominant form of cloud computing has been infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). As popular as those services have proven to be, the odds are good that IaaS is not going to be the dominant form of cloud computing going forward. The reason for this is that IaaS still leaves much of the responsibility for managing the software environment in the cloud in the hands of local IT people. That's appealing to a subset of customers, but in reality most cloud computing customers are looking for a more turnkey experience.
Obviously, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings go a long way towards delivering that experience. But PaaS has been slow to catch on because most of the offerings to date have been tied to specific application development languages and associated middleware platforms. In effect, vendors have treated PaaS as an opportunity to extend long-standing platform wars into the cloud. Customers, however, have grown weary of being caught up in such conflicts.
As 2012 evolves, it is becoming clear that the PaaS model will mature in terms of its ability to quickly onboard developers, and the PaaS platforms that will ultimately gain favor with customers are the ones that will support multiple forms of middleware and application development languages. Customers have moved away from being focused on one application development language. Modern applications routinely leverage the capabilities of multiple languages and databases to provide a rich application experience. The PaaS environment that provides the capabilities needed to support that type of application is ultimately going to win the day.
In the meantime, PaaS providers are racing to cement alliances that expand the range of services they provide. For example, this week AppFog announced that both MongoHQ, a provider of data management tools, and Mailgun, a provider of email tools, have agreed to integrate their offerings with the AppFog PaaS service that is currently based on PHP and an open source Cloud Foundry platform. According to AppFog CEO Lucas Carlson, AppFog intends to not only support multiple languages in the future, but also provide developers with access to a complete range of tools for building and deploying applications within an AppFog cloud computing ecosystem.
According to Carlson, it will be developers rather than IT operations people who will ultimately decide who wins the cloud wars. Developers are looking for platforms that provide the most frictionless way to build, deploy and manage applications, which means eliminating the need to acquire IT infrastructure and reducing as many IT operation tasks as possible.
None of this is lost on major vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, VMware, Amazon, Rackspace or SAP, which was the most recent to announce an ambitious cloud computing ecosystem endeavor. But Carlson says that the PaaS environment that caters to the multilingual requirements of developers best is going to become the dominant cloud computing platform, and that's something that he says each of the major vendors is not going to do all that well. In addition, Carlson says that the future of application development in the cloud is going to be all about fostering collaboration across teams of developers that will continually leverage each other's work to create more business value. That application development Renaissance is going to be driven by the ability to share code at an atomic level, which is a requirement that he says currently escapes most of the major vendors.