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Pros and cons of managing applications on the cloud vs. on-premise

Last updated on May 27, 2020

The very first crossroads enterprises find themselves in when rolling-out applications is whether to choose on-premise systems or the cloud. Typical considerations account for whether it is going to be costly, easy and scalable to build, deploy, use and secure critical business applications.
Your decision-making process does not stop there.
This choice has to also account for how well those applications will be managed and maintained once they are live, The maintenance cost is in fact a critical aspect, as it can eat up a lion’s share of your technology revenue – with many organizations often dedicating entire departments of IT services to manage applications and software infrastructure.
How do you make sure that you have a right strategy for maintaining applications when you have  cloud and on-premises IT estate?, you don’t get bogged down by the maintenance cost of applications rather than saving the IT budget for innovation? Which elements of your choice will confidently deliver winning outcomes for the business’ bottom-line?
Let us dive in.
Traditional / On-premise model vs. cloud 
On-premise or traditional models of deploying business applications have typically been fraught with complications and costly. Not only are the software and infrastructure needed to run these applications challenging, but they have also required dedicated large teams to support and maintain the monolithic systems smoothly and continuously. This team of experts is required on-call to install, assess, configure, secure, and update these systems. In the case of disruptions or outages, an entire suite of applications experiences downtime. On-prem infrastructures, therefore, require high capital investment upfront, lack agility and scale, and lack mobility.
On the other hand, cloud computing models enable convenient and on-demand access to a shared band of easily configurable computing resources i.e., servers, networks, storage, apps, and services. They can be quickly provisioned with minimal effort, and also minimize major infrastructure set-up expenses and overheads. The support required to manage and maintain applications on the cloud are also typically minimal and sporadic. Moreover, applications do not experience sudden crashes or downtimes, as cloud computing comes with a host of microservices that ensure the prevention of outages. Cloud-based applications, therefore, are more affordable, allow agile integration, collaboration, flexibility, and interoperability with higher mobility.
It’s no surprise then that cloud-apps have grown in popularity. Without the need for continuous support (as cloud vendors themselves end up handling most of the support activities), enterprises get everything from saved time and money to improved agility and scalability.
Key classifications in cloud management
Cloud management can be broadly classified into three types – Application, infrastructure, and service management.
Application management: The differences are in mechanisms for deployment, backups, security, auto-scaling, etc. The cloud’s operating model also captures all of these critical processes with best practices guidelines so that proactive maintenance, governance, and scalability can be ensured consistently for end-users and teams.
Infrastructure management: The process of procurement and management of networks, servers, and storage is different on the cloud vs. traditional on-prem models, and are provisioned by the use of external APIs (Application Program Interface). While the offerings in cloud infrastructure may not match exactly with your existing systems, the
required infrastructure must be defined well in addition to what volume of assets are deployed under specific conditions. You would also need to address concerns around the regular management of the operating system, such as middleware and patches.
Service management: This typically refers to the planning, designing, delivery, operation, and control of IT and cloud services. To ensure that service level agreements (SLAs) or strategic service level objectives (SLOs) are met, and maximized availability and performance are achieved, applications need to be consistently monitored and maintained.
A few aspects play a very critical role for the successful management of the above, as follows:

  • People: Majority of responsibility for the deployment and running of applications on the cloud is on DevOps engineers, cloud architects, and cross-functional teams
  • Support: The cloud provider typically manages most of the infrastructure and thus, identification, as well as the division of responsibilities and roles, is critical among support teams, application teams and service providers
  • Tools: To ensure continuity, optimal performance and efficiency of virtualized and on-demand environments, constant cloud monitoring, and service management tools are critical
  • Finance: This is the cost structure associated with infrastructural changes on the cloud, making cost optimization of processes and its adaptation over time are crucial for success
  • Security: Given that the move from the traditional private data center to the public cloud exposes you to access and cyber threats, ensuring data classification and sovereignty is fundamentally necessary

All of the mentioned factors are basically the outputs of an efficient governance model that define the end-model design on the cloud, to be ultimately consumed by the enterprise. The benefits of this exercise are substantial in both
the short and long term, as they help enterprises drive consistent approaches with agility and accelerate its ability to essentially lock-in and maximize the benefits of cloud computing.
We know that transitioning to an entirely new process is difficult, and conventionally large organizations will hit many resistors of change. This is why a significant and systematic push or momentum is critical for any enterprise to be cloud-first.

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