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A “cloud enabled” or “cloud ready” application is a legacy software program that has been modified to run on a cloud computing infrastructure (i.e., an application that previously ran on an enterprise’s on-site server is now running in an off-site data center and accessed by the enterprise through the internet). Cloud ready applications are distinct from “cloud native” or “cloud born” applications – which are developed from the ground up to run exclusively in cloud environments.
Cloud ready applications are legacy programs originally developed for static computing environments, like locally managed servers. To become "cloud ready," the legacy application must be modified to be compatible with cloud-hosted environments. The exact strategy for transforming a traditional application into a cloud ready one varies depending on the application. Usually, most changes to the application are focused on its deployment mechanics rather than rewriting its code.
Cloud ready applications have greater accessibility (via the internet instead of specific devices) and are more cost-efficient to maintain than their legacy counterparts. However, since the applications are still fundamentally designed to run on a specific operating system and/or physical hardware configuration, they cannot fully take advantage of the elastic scalability and development flexibility of cloud computing in the same ways cloud-native applications can.
Switching from a legacy application to a cloud-native equivalent – or extensively re-coding the legacy application to make it cloud-native – would be the most beneficial move for an enterprise to make. However, when such a significant transition is not feasible, modifying the legacy application just enough to get it cloud ready is usually the next best solution. Making a cloud ready application still requires skilled development work, but offers several worthwhile benefits to the enterprise.
Reduced costs: By delivering the same functionality, but in a cloud environment, cloud ready applications save enterprises the costs of owning and maintaining onsite infrastructure.
Simplified operation: Instead of restricting access to specific onsite devices, cloud ready applications allow users to access real-time data from any device connected to the internet – greatly improving ease of access and workflow efficiency.
Improved security: Compared to an enterprise's onsite infrastructure, cloud service providers have significantly more resources dedicated to state-of-the-art data security measures. Plus, since application data is stored in the cloud, it supports business continuity and disaster recovery more easily.
Instant scalability: Leveraging the vast resources of the cloud makes it easier for organizations to scale a cloud ready application according to its level of usage.
Development strategies for evaluating a legacy application's potential for cloud-enablement, and deciding what changes need to be made to the application to get it cloud ready, generally focus on the following areas:
Data Architecture: Application architectures that treat processing and data as separate are better suited to the complex, distributed systems of cloud computing. Loosely coupled applications give developers more options to store and process the data on any public, private or hybrid cloud environment.
Performance scaling: An understanding of how the application will scale under an increasing load is critical for determining cloud-readiness. Applications that are built for horizontal scaling will be easier to make cloud ready compared to those built for traditional multi-tier scaling.
Resource allocation: Depending on how the application is structured to use CPU and memory resources, the virtualized versions of these components provided by the cloud environment must provide an equivalent level of support for the application to function properly.
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