It’s Monday morning. You go into work as if it’s a normal day, but the office is quiet. There’s a press release on your desk stating that your company has put its data centers up for sale, and cloud will be its new platform.
This strategic shift is increasingly commonplace now. Although it makes the company look innovative and thrifty to the stock holders, it also leaves the challenge to IT to make it all work.
The shift to the cloud is very sensible. Most applications have a place on the public cloud—that is, if they are modern enough to use the public cloud as a platform. Indeed, in some cases the application workloads don’t have to be modified or need very little modification. Migrating to the cloud often makes sense.
But often is not always. Some applications—about 20 to 40 percent—don’t have good platform analogs in public cloud platforms. Most are built using older mainframe or minicomputer technologies; although they’re not pretty to look at, they run the business nonetheless. Modifying those applications to run in the cloud is cost-prohibitive.
If your enterprise data center is going away, you’ll have to figure out what to do with those applications that can’t run on the public cloud. In other words, your company’s shiny new cloud strategy needs a no-cloud option.
To handle that no-cloud option, you can use hosting platforms, such as managed service providers (MSPs), colocation providers, or other data centers for rent. All of these solutions let your no-cloud applications run outside a public cloud without your needing to have your own physical data center (which, of course, is for sale now).
When working through your cloud strategy, your applications will fall into three tiers:
- The first tier the public cloud, where you run the applications available from cloud provider (such as SaaS applications) or that you have converted to run in the cloud. For most enterprises, this will be the bulk of your applications.
- The second tier is a MSP or colocation provider, which provides a new home for any applications that can’t cost-effectively run on a public cloud, whether for prohibitive refactoring costs or specialty requirements such as latency that a cloud provider can’t satisfy.
- The third tier is your data center, for on-premises systems that can’t readily be moved even to a hosted platform. The number of such applications will become zero over time, but not right away.
Ironically but critically, the no-cloud option is an important component to your cloud computing strategy. Having a no-cloud option may seem counter-intuitive to effectively move to the cloud, but it’s a necessary component to get you there. Otherwise, those applications you can’t move to the cloud will cause you to keep your data center and thus delay or reduce the tremendous advantages of moving the rest of your applications to the cloud.