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How To: Enhancing Legacy Apps with Cloud

What are the best ways to use the cloud to enhance legacy apps?

As we’ve discussed previously, dealing with legacy applications in the cloud is not a simple, straight ahead proposition. The bottom line is it can be done, but doing it smartly is a whole other issue.

As Dan Woods asks:

“Can cloud infrastructure support traditional applications that were not built to deliver reliable performance from unreliable components?”

Legacy app

What are the best ways to use the cloud to enhance legacy apps?

The reasons to move legacy apps to the cloud are manifest: improved performance, ROI, and associated upkeep costs, to name a few. So much money has already gone into creating the tech and utilizing the data center real estate that simply abandoning what you’ve been using would be like burning millions of dollars.

However, the answer to Dan Woods’ question is not a simple yes or no, and many providers who reply in one way or the other are selling short the amount of thinking that has to go into making legacy applications at home in the cloud.

What platform?
There are many versions of cloud to choose from, and each will have a specific path that needs to be taken to best support legacy applications.

SaaS products can be synced to in-use legacy applications with some effort, but will never be the best place for complete legacy support.

Ultimately, IaaS or PaaS is the path of least resistance where legacy requirements are concerned, since those applications can be more easily virtualized and brought into a cloud environment.

What Cloud?
There are a number of cloud approaches beyond SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS that a business needs to settle on for the sake of application efficiency. Custom and vertical applications can be rewritten to be operationally smart so they easily run on public or private clouds. Again, this is not easy, but that’s why the cloud provides a competitive advantage.

The easiest way to allow operationally simple legacy applications to run on the cloud would be to improve the cloud and make it reliable. Right now companies have improved their server utilization significantly through virtualization. Instead of having 5 or 10% utilization, for example, a virtualized collection of servers can run at 30%, and with careful management and predictable workloads, higher than that.

Performance Anxieties
One of the largest issues with legacy apps is degrading performance compared to newer technologies. However, the kind of cloud you choose can impact how great a performance increase can be expected. A virtual machine in a multitenant environment is going to be unpredictable because it is shared. This particular issue needs to be accounted for when moving legacy applications to the cloud.

However, this particular issue is really mainly applicable to IaaS. A smart work around is to institute a version of hybrid cloud, which bridges shared and dedicated resources. This allows you to run many different kinds of configurations that appeal to the performance increases you want for legacy apps as well as that apps integration into the rest of your infrastructure and other systems.

Thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @CloudGathering.

By Jake Gardner

Read the original blog entry...

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