Driven by the need for businesses to innovate at a low price point, and quickly while at that, cloud adoption has experienced unprecedented growth. In fact, a latest report by Telsyte revealed that more than a third (34%) of Australian enterprises now have a ‘cloud-first’ policy, with the local cloud Infrastructure-as-as-Service (IaaS) market forecast to hit $1.049 billion by 2020.
A cloud-first future is no longer that far off on the horizon.
Globally, Gartner expects that by 2020, a corporate ‘no-cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-Internet’ policy is today. By 2019, more than 30 per cent of the world’s largest organisations’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only.
Cloud is increasingly becoming the default option for software deployment. For small businesses, the cloud offers a great deal of opportunity for them to keep operating costs low whilst ensuring productivity gains.
However, not all applications are designed for it. To ensure you’re deploying the right applications in the most optimal way, it is essential for businesses to consider these key elements first.
When it comes to connectivity and establishing your app on the cloud, there are two major things to consider. Firstly, who are your users and how will they connect to your app; and secondly, does it need to integrate with on-premises systems? Once you have established these factors, you can then look to enable connectivity through the internet – or if required, leverage virtual private network (VPN) or dedicated private connections.
1. Network Isolation
Network planning doesn’t go away in the cloud but fortunately, it’s been made easier to reconfigure. To keep data safe within cloud environments, many companies are using a security strategy known as network and data isolation. Not only do you need to have an understanding of your network flow, you should also bear in mind to avoid overlapping internet protocol (IP) addresses, and lock down communication to only hosts and ports required.
Consistently a hot topic in the IT space, security should be a priority when deploying your app on the cloud. The major cloud providers are secure by nature, but you should still consider how you can best harness their available interfaces. Your application workload can be as opened or as closed on the cloud as you wish, and you also have the additional option of using third party tools.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Restricted access to resources
- Layering networking security (application level firewall appliances, network isolation/security configuration, host firewalls)
- Protecting operating systems (antimalware, security updates)
- Auditing and monitoring activity – in escrow of your application workload if possible
- Encrypting at rest and at flight, with reliable, durable and secure key management
Ultimately, the key lies in achieving a comprehensive understanding of your cloud provider’s and your own responsibility.
3. Scalability & Cost Management
The cloud provides access to ‘unlimited’ resources, making capacity planning fairly redundant. However, with greater capacity comes exceeding responsibility, therefore planning should be redirected to ensuring your app consumes cloud services efficiently. The impact scaling will have on your operational budget is significant and also enables the app to perform more optimally.
To correctly scale your app, you should first understand its architecture and weaknesses. Next, you’ll need to determine the expected load and performance requirements your app demands and lastly, know how to correctly leverage the platform hosting your app. As such, it’s vital to look into your cloud provider’s scaling capabilities and discover what system works best for you.
How quickly can you adapt your service to changing requirements? These could range from security needs, to the upgrading of operating systems and application libraries. It could also refer to changing market conditions, or perhaps even be a result of marketing activities – an event that sparks a new and immediate opportunity that will pass if you can’t seize it fast enough.
Moreover, the constant changing landscape of the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) capability is also creating a knock-on effect on the need for agility. CSPs are constantly improving their services –their new services may replace deployments you have had to previously create, manage and maintain. As such, it’s vital to remain agile in order to fully harness these enhancements.
5. Backup & Recovery
Protection against loss of data is imperative for both the creators and users of applications. CSPs have a plan in place for recovering data, whether it’s native snapshot capabilities that allow one to take a point in time backup of a virtual machine, or a specific cloud-based backup service.
Alternatively, third party products can also be used for retrieving more granular data. Ultimately, you need to consider what service works best for the cloud environment your app sits within.
Cloud is inevitably the future and while operating on its environment can bring some challenges, the opportunities outweigh them. Understanding the services your app and its users need is the first step towards establishing the operational tools that are the right fit for reducing management overhead, consistent configuration and ensuring a successful deployment.
Charandeep Chhabra is General Manager, National Sales, Solutions & Innovation, Ajilon