Answer

Hybrid cloud services: Do your customers have to re-architect?

Many public cloud offerings require that existing applications be extensively re-architected to run on their infrastructure. If providers offer hybrid cloud services, does this take away the need for customers to re-architect?

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The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Let's take a look at an example for each case to understand why.

One way extensive re-architecting for an application can be avoided is if a new module for an existing system is deployed "whole" as a menu choice that happens to be executing from the cloud. This could be done for a variety of applications (HCM, ERP, UC, and so on). In this example, existing functions could run in-house for as long as the organization needs them to, and the new functionality could be supported in an external cloud provider's system. Access to the module could be made seamless and secure from the application's front-end. Performance of the hybrid module could be measured and managed, and overall costs could be controlled. A small number of integration steps could be performed to make this design available in a relatively painless way. It is a pretty classic hybrid cloud scenario.

It makes sense for providers offering hybrid cloud services to be prepared for either type of customer situation.

Alternatively, a different case could involve substantial redesign, and the implementation would have to be justified on its overall resulting merits. Consider the example of adding support for mobile, geographically distributed users for a new application enhancement where the multi-screen support of the bring your own device (BYOD) user base might be best provided from an operator's cloud (supplying both mobile and fixed network access and hosting for applications unified across the user base).

At the same time, data from the new enhancement might need to be integrated with information in the application's preexisting data store. The application might need to be substantially enhanced to allow some of the functions to remain in-house (for local group processing, for example) while the master data store and support for mobile users is housed in the cloud.

In this scenario, use of hybrid cloud services to gain the benefits of the expanded functionality would also involve substantial re-architecting of the pre-existing system. The benefits to the organization would justify the cost, but the re-architecting steps would be part of the process.

Thus the answer to the question of whether offering hybrid cloud services takes away the need to extensively re-architect applications is sometimes yes, and sometimes no. It depends on the applications, business goals and capabilities of the respective organizations. From the planning point of view, it makes sense for providers offering hybrid cloud services to be prepared for either type of customer situation. Making incorporation of a hybrid cloud platform into an enterprise's application services in either type of case will only be to each party's overall benefit.

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This was first published in August 2013

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