Migrating a traditional application to the cloud isn’t as complex as it sometimes first appears. We frequently work with our clients to make this transition, and have compiled three of the most common misconceptions about moving from a dedicated server deployment to a cloud environment.
Myth 1: The cloud won’t support networking for mulit-tier applications
While software-defined networking (SDN) is undoubtedly white-hot in our industry, the reality is that it’s still a developing and untrusted technology among enterprise buyers. Separate from the advent of SDN, in the last several years new concepts such as “security groups” have attempted to usurp traditional enterprise security and firewall designs. The problem is that for companies delivering SaaS or other enterprise applications, your clients are very likely to be uncomfortable (for very good reason) with the security delivered through these designs, which, depending on the industry you serve, is likely to cost you sales.
Moreover, any application written more than 2-3 years ago was almost certainly written to operate in a traditional 3-tier architecture with separate network segments for web, application, and database servers. Generally, each of these tiers has their own firewall rules and load balancing profiles. Re-architecting all of this to function in a flat network can be amulti-year endeavor that is not at all worth the cost when cloud environments exist today that support a traditional network architecture.
Lastly, many cloud vendors have chosen to implement a Layer 3 network topology, which leads to significantly lower performance than a traditional Layer 2, hardware-based network with reserved performance for each segment of the network. Is your application used to operating at wireline speeds and latency? What happens if you migrate that application to a cloud delivering 1/4 to 1/3 of Gigabit wireline speeds?
If you’re considering the move, you have two options: 1) rewrite the application to deal with varying degrees of network latency and throughput or 2) choose a provider who is able to deliver this performance as a part of their standard platform.
Myth 2: My database won’t run in the cloud
One to two years ago, the belief that databases couldn’t perform well in the public cloud was still valid, but much has changed in a short period of time. A handful of cloud providers now offer high-performance database options in the cloud. At Dimension Data, we have several ways to deliver databases in cloud. Our Tiered Storage offerings for cloud currently provide 3 disk speed options, with the highest tier designed specifically for transactional databases. Second, we partner with companies like Zadara Storage to even allow Microsoft SQL clustering in the cloud, which in addition to enabling failover clustering, allows 100% customizable RAID storage options (from SATA to SSD, RAID 1 to 10, and most other options in-between). Lastly, we offer the easy integration of dedicated physical servers into our clients’ cloud environments when neither of the previous two solutions is ideal.
Myth 3: The cloud isn’t reliable enough for my application.
Despite what the market may want you to believe, all cloud platforms are not inherently unreliable, and your application does not have to be designed to treat every server as disposable. It is not necessary to design for the fact that on any given server deployment, you might be allocated a “bad” VM, which you should automatically detect, delete, and replace with a properly performing machine.
Maybe This Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard
We often speak with clients who fear that they are not ready for cloud because they haven’t yet re-architected their application to account for these and other perceived shortcomings in the public cloud. While these problems do exist on some platforms, they are not prevalent everywhere. Given the massive costs of an application re-write, vendor and platform selection are critical to ensure that your chosen platform supports the current state of your application without months or years of work required to make the leap.
Thanks as always for following our blog. If you’re interested in speaking with us to determine whether you are ready to make this transition, please don’t hesitate to contact me.