When cloud computing is a fit (and when it's not)

See how your application stands up to this cloud computing checklist

Whether or not an application or a system is a fit for cloud computing really begins with understanding your own architecture issues and the design patterns of the application.

See how your application stands up to this checklist to determine whether cloud computing is the right option.

[ See also: Never separate cloud computing from SOA ]

Cloud Computing Is a Fit...

When the processes, applications, and data are largely independent, or when they are not tightly coupled with other applications or information. The idea is that if they are tightly coupled, they are difficult, if not impossible, to decouple, and thus will not operate independently on a remote platform. If they are loosely coupled, fit is not an issue. Loosely coupled applications are a much better fit for cloud computing.

When the points of integration are well defined, or when there are well-defined points within an application where that application can share data, behavior, and processes. Thus, they are easy to integrate with applications back in the enterprise.

When a lower level of security will work just fine, or when the information to be contained within the cloud computing environment requires a low level of security, and the world will not end if the information somehow got out. Cloud computing systems typically provide "good enough" security, but they are not yet ready for state secrets.

When the core internal enterprise architecture is healthy, or when you have your own house in order, and thus it is much easier for cloud computing systems to become part of that architecture.

When the Web/Internet is the desired platform, or when you are okay with deploying the user interface within a browser. Today, with the advent of rich Internet applications (RIAs), you have browser-based applications that look and function like native applications.

When cost is an issue, or when there is a clear cost benefit to cloud computing. If you are looking to build and deploy an application on the cheap, cloud computing is typically the way to go.

When the applications are new. It is much easier to deploy new applications on cloud platforms than it is to port existing applications there.

Cloud Computing Is Not a Fit...

When the processes, applications, and data are largely coupled. If the applications are interdependent, then it is not a good idea to move any of them to a remote cloud platform. They will quickly break. Remember, loosely coupled is good with cloud computing; tightly coupled is bad with cloud computing.

When the points of integration are not well defined, or when there are not good mechanisms in place to synchronize the information and processes hosted on cloud computing providers with those systems that exist within the enterprise. Integrating those sorts of systems in which the interfaces are ill-defined places a lot of risk in the movement toward cloud computing and is not a good fit.

When a high level of security is required, or when security is so much of a risk that you just cannot trust systems that you do not completely control. These types of systems should be rare.

When control is critical to your business. If you cannot afford to outsource a critical component to anybody who is less than 100% reliable, then cloud computing may not be right for you.

When the core internal enterprise architecture needs work. If your enterprise architecture is dysfunctional, then extending it out to cloud-delivered platforms is not a good idea. Get your house in order first, at least to the extent that externalizing systems to cloud resources will not cause harm.

When the application requires a native interface. If you need to leverage native APIs (such as Win32) and browsers are not an option, then cloud computing may not be a good fit.

When cost is an issue. Again, consider the costs holistically. While in many cases cloud computing is a fit, in some cases it is not.

When the application is legacy. Just as new applications are much easier to move to cloud computing, older or legacy applications are not.

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This tip is extracted from the new release, Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide, authored by David Linthicum published by Addison-Wesley Professional, Oct. 2009 ISBN 0136009220, Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc. For a complete Table of Contents, please visit the publisher site: www.informit.com/title/0136009220

Or, to read Linthicum’s book via the Safari Books Online on-demand digital library, click below for a free trial offer (ends Tues 11/24/09), and simply search for the title. http://tinyurl.com/ygjr7a4

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