Sam Woodcock, Director of Solutions Architecture – EMEA and APAC, iland

I was recently asked to share my thoughts on the challenges of integrating legacy software and systems with the cloud. We know that cloud promises huge benefits in terms of business agility, competitiveness, cost reduction and management – that’s why cloud integration is at the top of the CIO agenda – but there are some common challenges that can be overcome with some astute project management and by looking at the bigger picture: 

One business; one system

A common mistake when it comes to integration, paradoxically, is the tendency to view the cloud as a completely separate entity from legacy IT systems. Businesses that have built up years of best-practice in terms of management, security and networking for on-premise systems don’t see the bigger picture and fail to incorporate these processes into the cloud environment. The result is the perpetuation of ‘IT silos’ with multiple management procedures. This is disjointed and more complex to manage, therefore defeating many of the objects of the exercise. Instead of viewing the cloud separately, organisations need to leverage their prior investment and focus on developing a holistic management methodology for legacy on-premises systems and cloud systems. This makes perfect sense, for example, in the case of IT teams that have been using VMWare with legacy systems. Choosing a VMware-based cloud provider ensures familiarity and gives those IT teams the opportunity to bring relevant past experience to bear during the implementation and management phases.

 No such word as “can’t”

Organisations that have legacy systems that can’t be virtualised don’t need to abandon the goal of cloud migration. By working with a cloud provider that can support both colocation and physical environments, the benefits can still be realised. One of the reasons that many of our customers choose iland Secure Cloud is the ability to co-locate legacy systems, meaning that they can still achieve integration without having to write off any prior investment.    

Security and disaster recovery – confidence and compliance

Naturally, security is a key concern in any project. Ensuring that the chosen cloud environment can maintain backups and protect company data to the highest standards of compliance is critical. Security and business continuity play a vital role during deployment, which is why many iland customers are leveraging our replication tools to migrate legacy systems to the cloud. This approach gives them the opportunity to first protect legacy systems in the cloud with DRaaS and use that as a testing ground to gain confidence before running live applications in the cloud. This facility ensures that migration is as painless as possible.

Painless project – is that really possible?

Nothing worth doing is 100% easy, but the benefits of cloud integration are so compelling that the effort is undeniably worthwhile and it’s up to suppliers to demonstrate integration methodologies that minimise pain and maximise benefit. Looking at all of the challenges above, one thread runs through them all and that’s project management (to understand this more in depth, why not look at this recent article written by my colleague, Andrean Georgiev).  A strong project manager can communicate with all stakeholders and assist in developing those holistic management strategies, devising a strategy for colocation and ensuring compliance with industry-specific and general security standards. It’s their job to seize those challenges of cloud integration and take out the pain. At iland, we pride ourselves on having some of the best project managers in the business.

So yes, there are some pitfalls to avoid when integrating legacy software and systems into the cloud. But, by viewing and managing the system holistically, making the most of historical knowledge within IT teams and ensuring that the project is expertly co-ordinated throughout, the goal of a secure, compliant and fully integrated cloud environment that complements on-premises systems can be achieved.

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