When to Apply Cloud Computing

Michael Vizard

There's a lot of debate these days about when to use cloud computing and for what types of applications. Given the relatively early days of the concept, that's understandable. But some people fail to appreciate some of the subtleties of cloud computing. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition for applications. Rather than considering which applications to run in the cloud, IT organizations need think about application workloads.

To get to that level of thinking, however, IT organizations need to start "decomposing" their applications to determine the characteristics of those workloads. With that issue in mind, Unisys has comes up with a few guidelines as part of its Cloud IT Management Advisory Service to determine what type of application workloads to run in the cloud:

  • Numerical processing intensive - Applications that process large data sets (dozens of sources, millions of records, gigabytes of data), involving iterative calculations, data transformations and data-driven matching. These applications typically run for many hours and must complete in tight operational timeframes (statement generation and rendering, risk calculators, general ledger, etc.).
  • Request/response - Applications that provide a large population of users' business intelligence by making access to disparate data sources transparent.
  • Event-driven - Users are presented with data changes every second that affect models they are running. Users must make decisions frequently based on those models (trading environments).
  • High concurrency/high throughput - Typified by Internet-facing applications that must respond to massive fluctuations in demand while providing rich media content to users.
  • Ubiquitous user - Typified by the need to allow a user multiple presences through different media (webcasts, telepresence, etc.).
  • I/O-intensive-Workloads that have a lot of back-and-forth for data requests and use over the network.

According to Brian Ott, Unisys vice president of global services, other utilitarian types of applications that are natural for the cloud include anything to do with security and backup and recovery. In the not-too-distant future, he says desktop virtualization as a cloud computing server also will make a lot of sense. But it might not make sense to rewrite a 20-year-old application that includes the company's core business logic just to run it in the cloud.

At the end of the day, it's all about what type of data needs to be where. Cloud computing is definitely a way to get more IT bang for the dollar and change the relationship between the business and IT. But like all IT tools, it needs to be applied with care.

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