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April - 2015 - issue > CXO INSIGHT
Shifting Infrastructure to the Cloud - Where Does the Onus Lie?
Shahin Pirooz, Chief Technology Officer, RiverMeadow Software
Friday, April 3, 2015
Over the past decade, greenfield applications being developed in the cloud have garnered much attention. As enterprises think of faster IT deployments, for those who are planning to offer cloud services, it needs to be much quicker.

Cloud is up for that shift around how to avail consumed services in a commodity model, in such a way that you don't have to build them yourself. What's also happening is there is a big shift of infrastructure from on-premise to the cloud. There are a number of platforms that are surrounding the applications also being moved to the cloud. This has resulted in service providers setting their focus completely on the development aspect and thereby strictly building on the consumed services to have them provisioned. Effectively, the developers have taken the onus upon themselves of leading this cloud movement with the need to accelerate faster than IT. Amazon, Microsoft and other service providers have been fueling this time-to-market acceleration.

The Missing Mechanism
The biggest challenge that is up against IT is that, with all the new applications in the cloud and having known and learnt the art of managing those applications, how do you manage the legacy infrastructure? For example, the ERP Systems and the CRM systems have been running our businesses and are still running in our data center, so how to leverage the same business model for those?

What we are witnessing over the last 4-5 years is that the IT organizations are starting to build cloud models inside their data centers and are exposing those services to large cloud service providers such as Amazon and Microsoft, to name a couple. There is a significant amount of cloud infrastructure that is being built including the APIs, the scalability of the infrastructure, and the commoditization of the underlying infrastructure. But, what we are still missing today is a good mechanism for moving the existing infrastructure to the cloud environment. Subject matter expertise would have to do the conversion from either physical or other virtual environments to a new cloud platform.

The industry is heading towards a transformative phase. This phase will lead people to stop thinking of servers as servers, and will see the shift to think in terms of applications. These applications constitute servers that make up that application ecosystem, and all the policies that enable communication between the different tiers of the application. It is high time we make that shift in conceptualizing legacy applications as applications and not as servers.

From an operational perspective, the intent to enable the movement of servers between clouds is largely the missing piece. There are a lot of players in the market who are trying to close the gap here. Examples of traditional data movers who have historically replicated data between servers are exemplified, and it still is in continuation as they replicate data between a server and the cloud, and server and the traditional data center. But, the replication solutions were great, as long as there was a spill of a significant amount of the subject matter expertise. It was limited to that. This doesn't do any good in terms of combating the legacy infrastructure issue. So, the big question is, how do you take existing brownfield servers and move them between clouds?

Make it Easy for the Consumer Side
Falling under the lens of the industry as an infrastructure-as-a-service player is by no means a swift task. In the current industry, it takes more to find good traction for your services.The big wigs, such as Amazon, house more than 300 applications in addition to their infrastructure-as-a-service. Amazon has enabled capabilities that let you consume the DNS services, content acceleration, storage and all the various attributes that make up the infrastructure that is either virtualized so that one can consume them. The young cloud service providers now have a huge challenge ahead, in terms of competing with such kinds of advancement in the ecosystem. So, for enterprises that are looking to build such an ecosystem, they have to build an easy, commodity-based, consumable solution and provide that with fast and seamless automated onboarding.

So, if you just want to focus on offsetting hardware and become an infrastructure-as-a-service player, it has to be made easy for your customers to consume those service offerings. From an entrepreneur's perspective looking at the consumption of the cloud services from the ground, this has made the cloud what it is today. It's a slightly different message if you are in an existing infrastructure and if you are considering cloud. It is really easy to consume cloud services from a greenfield perspective when you are starting from scratch. But, it is really difficult and is still a challenge to take the existing infrastructures and platforms and move them to the cloud.

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