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Integrating cloud technology

The choice: public versus private cloud?

Chapter summary

Integrating new cloud technology into a company’s existing on-premise technology environments – some of which will be new, some very old – is a significant challenge and not without its risks.
 

Legacy environments

Legacy technology is heterogeneous, having grown organically over a long period, and not always well-understood as most or all of the original coders and developers will have left or retired. A big question for companies is when integrating cloud with existing on-premise technology do you, add the cloud as another layer on top of legacy systems or dispense with some or all of the legacy systems and start afresh in the cloud?
 

Generic or vendor-specific cloud services

Compared with five years ago, the maturity of the cloud is almost unrecognisable in certain areas. Perhaps the biggest area of change has been the increase in vendor-specific cloud services, where a CSP offers a service that is quite different, and not compatible, with the services provided by other CSPs. There are big benefits for customers of committing to one vendor, such as only having to learn how to use a single technology, and provider tools that are specially designed to work together. There is, though, a potential drawback. If the customer wants to change vendors at a later date, it may find it is locked in. The best way to avoid vendor lock-in is for the customer to architect its applications so they are portable. A decision should also be made on whether to use the public or private cloud. Most corporations are opting for public over private when they can because it provides more of the benefits. These days public cloud provides so many security features and controls that it can effectively operate as a private cloud. To determine the right decision for the company the customer should carry out a cost-benefit analysis to calculate the initial cost of migrating to the cloud, and the long-term net savings. A cost-benefit analysis may reveal that it would be more prudent to stick with some of the legacy systems for a little longer.
 

Data protection requirements

Cloud customers should know the geographic location of the CSP’s servers and each country’s data protection and other regulations. National authorities often insist that data held by domestic companies should be kept only on servers in that country. That means their CSP has to use local servers. However, that may not be enough to keep data safe from other countries’ authorities. As a result, many cloud customers are encrypting their data to keep it safe from governments as much as from cyber criminals. The location of servers is only one aspect of a broad range of data protection regulations that vary from country to country. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018, is one of the strictest. It requires organisations to improve the privacy rights of EU residents and report data breaches within three days to the regulator and to the national data protection authority, rules that will be difficult and costly to comply with. Penalties for non-compliance could be as high as 4 percent of global turnover.

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Key recommendations

  1. A decision should be made on whether to use the public or private cloud and therefore automation should be a fundamental element of cloud services. 
  2. There are two options when integrating cloud with existing on-premise technology: add the cloud as another layer on top of legacy systems; or dispense with some or all of the legacy systems and start afresh in the cloud. 
  3. Decide whether to use generic or vendor-specific cloud services, and consider the upsides and downsides of both. 
  4. Cloud customers should know the geographic location of the CSP’s servers and each country’s data protection and other regulations.
  5. The customer should carry out a cost/benefit analysis to calculate the initial costs of migrating to the cloud, and long-term net savings.
Chapter 3: Integrating cloud technology
Chapter 3: Integrating cloud technology
Developing and managing an effective cloud strategy
Developing and managing an effective cloud strategy
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