Is the Cloud Ready for Enterprise Applications?

On a recent business day, I did a Google news search for “Cloud”, which found 40,900 results (As far as I could tell, none of these articles were weather-related but were instead focused on cloud computing). On the same day, a search for “Barack Obama” yielded 27,900.

Since cloud is more newsworthy than the president, it’s not surprising that enterprises are wondering what they can move into “the cloud”. As they look around, they see large application deployments from the likes of SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft and wonder, “Hmmm. Can I save some money by moving these, next time I’m due for a tech refresh or an upgrade?”.

The good news is, if you’re thinking that, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent report by Forrester Research, Inc.¹ finds that, at least in the SAP market, while there aren’t true cloud deployments of those applications, lots of organizations are moving in that direction, which is great. But, if the promise of cloud is true, why aren’t organizations moving their production applications in droves?

So, first, the promise of the cloud is coming true, but as far as I can tell, we’re not completely there yet. Today, it’s helping organizations reduce costs, get to market faster and meet irregular computing needs. But, early public cloud deployments aren’t playing host to production enterprise applications for three key reasons:

  1. Security – Security standards in many industries are clear, and the physical location of data is important in audits. Cloud is all about the location becoming immaterial. These two issues conflict.
  2. Performance – The SLAs for cloud are different from traditional environments. Managers of production applications are mission-critical can’t accept that kind of risk.
  3. Scale – Traditional applications aren’t built to immediately scale the way cloud is. The licensing structure doesn’t lend itself to the kind of immediacy of the cloud. So, here, the applications themselves hold back the cloud’s promise.

I think, though, that lots of application managers are under pressure to evaluate whether or not they should move their applications to the cloud. That’s why we’re hosting a live webinar on April 26  to help frame this conversation. The good news is that guest speaker Liz Herbert from Forrester Research, Inc., author of that great report on moving SAP to the cloud, will join us. Maybe you should, too.

¹”SAP In The Cloud: Market Update And Lessons Learned From Early Adopters”, Forrester Research, December 8, 2011
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