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April - 2015 - issue > CXO INSIGHT
Getting ready to move applications to the Cloud
Pankaj Malhotra, SVP- Engineering, ShoreTel
Friday, April 3, 2015
Nothing has transformed the IT arena over the past couple of years as cloud computing has. The traditional tried and trusted model of client server architecture where applications connected to a battery of servers inside a data center suddenly had the servers disappearing and applications being delivered through a jargon of 'hosted,' SaaS and cloud infrastructure. IT departments were unwilling to keep the 'boxes' on-premises and as that infrastructure moved out of the premises so did their challenge of maintaining hardware and software. These challenges were however replaced with new ones like connectivity to the cloud, security of applications and monitoring of applications through the cloud.

Enterprise cloud adoption is growing at a very rapid rate, with almost all of the organizations in the US having either done it already or in the process of moving towards utilizing the cloud. Most have already done the work in setting up their foundations and figuring out infrastructure that needs to be moved to the cloud versus what remains on-premises. Now companies have started shifting their focus on what applications need to move towards the cloud. Thereare several issues that are now emerging and trending:
1. Security: Security of applications and application data in the cloud remains top of the list of IT concerns. Most public and private cloud vendors offer the best-in-breed security solutions but as applications become more complex and the methods to consume them become more diverse (mobile, within the enterprise, etc.) so does the need to constantly upgrade the security requirements for an enterprise.
2. Visibility: Visibility on all cloud-based applications that are being consumed by an enterprise. In this era of users gaining access to any cloud based application, IT departments are loosing control on how to protect their enterprise data, leaving the premises for these applications not authorized by them. They require solutions that would give them more visibility into what their users are doing with the enterprise data and applications they are consuming from the cloud.
3. WAN Infrastructure: As more and more users in the enterprise start consuming applications from the cloud, WAN connectivity is fast emerging as an issue , whereby enterprises need to keep adding more and more bandwidth to their traditional WAN (likely MPLS based), making it costly and prohibitive. Several new technology enhancements in this area like SD-WAN ar ehoping to use low cost broadband circuits to give MPLS like SLA's and reduce this cost.
4. Monitoring: Monitoring of applications and infrastructure from the cloud is another area where traditional IT monitoring tools are not able to provide the kind of insights and scalability that is needed. This is where open source based tools particularly for applications hosted on public cloud infrastructure are being developed and enhanced to provide help to the organizations.
5. Compliance: Compliance issues are another area where IT departments are struggling, in particular for cloud-based applications in a regulated industry like cloud delivered unified communications (UCaaS). Problems related to leaving an application on premises or consuming it from the cloud, or consuming it in a hybrid manner so some portions remain under IT control, need to be solved. The same goes for data that cuts across international boundaries, particularly data that has consumer specific information. Most private and public cloud infrastructure vendors offer multiple levels of compliance that can help address these concerns.
6. Private versus Public Cloud: Utilizing Public (IaaS, PaaS) versus private cloud or utilizing a hybrid infrastructure or both. While Private cloud offers more control the nimbleness that you gain from using a public cloud infrastructure is immense. Most organizations are looking at utilizing a hybrid infrastructure for the delivery of applications to start with.

In summary, enterprise IT organizations have made significant progress in capitalizing on the opportunity that cloud-based application infrastructure offers by laying the foundational infrastructure work, now they're looking to solve the problem at the next level of how to effectively provide their organizationswith access to applications from the cloud while still maintaining control and security around them.

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