A Reality Check About Integration and the Cloud

Loraine Lawson

Kevin Fogarty is handing out cloud computing reality checks this week over at Computerworld. If you're one of those companies lured in by dreams that cloud computing will solve your legacy problems, you'd do well to read the article.


Actually, you don't even have to read the whole thing, because the article's subhead pretty well sums it up: "Did you think all those legacy apps would just float up into someone else's cloud infrastructure?" it asks.


Ah, but legacy systems are such a headache, who can blame a leader for dreaming? And such a lovely dream it is, legacy systems offloaded at last onto someone else's infrastructure-out there, somewhere in the clouds, where you don't have to deal with them or think about them, but where you can still access those functions or data, whenever you need them.


But it's time to wake up, Fogarty points out that cloud's hype cycle is ready to plunge into the Trough of Disillusionment, and he's just the sort of guy to give it a gutsy push over the edge. And I'm just the kinda gal to cheer him on.


What's the awful truth? Well, it turns out, all those things that are concerning about software-as-a-service-integration, security, compliance, etc-become even more troubling when you're talking infrastructure.


Fogarty has interviewed several tech leaders and analysts and came up with a list of five reality checkpoints, and several specifically relate to legacy/cloud integration problems.


You might think you know about the integration problems, but this article really brings into focus how bad they can be. Here are a few of the points it raises:

  • Cloud platforms are all different, so migration, support, cost and capacity issues also will be different according to platform. This shouldn't surprise you if you read IT Business Edge's Arthur Cole, who has written about the challenges of proprietary cloud computing platforms.
  • You may find existing integration points break when you try to move one end point into the cloud-and odds are 10 to 1 your legacy systems are deeply integrated with many, many other on-premise systems.
  • Licenses are still very much tied to boxes, which can create problems when you're trying to move a legacy app built on a commercial database.
  • The legacy app might also determine which cloud solution you can even consider, since, as the article notes, "Legacy apps typically also don't typically support the newest technology except in the user interfaces that aren't part of their cores -- exactly the technologies on which cloud platforms are built."
  • Even if you and the cloud provider solve these problems, you may find yourself stuck with part of the migration. John Abbott, infrastructure analyst at The 451 Group, says Queplix and its competitors such as Siperian and Initiate Systems only convert a portion of the application and data, leaving you to deal with as much as 15 percent.


The article goes into more detail about these and other concerns. It's a good read if you'd like to separate the fact from the fiction of moving legacy apps to the cloud.


SMBs might also want to check out Paul Mah's explanation of why the cloud is not for every small business.

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