5 Ways to Future-proof Your Cloud Applications
One of the major IT innovations in recent times has been the explosion in the use of Cloud Applications as part of the implementation of Cloud Solutions. The implementation and evolution of apps running as Cloud Solutions continues, and as always there is the danger of users falling behind, or upgrades bringing incompatibilities with them.
One thought in the mind of IT heads is how to future-proof their Cloud Solutions as thousands of applications move to the cloud.
As often in computing, this is an action replay of issues that were addressed many years ago as operating systems like IBM’s OS/VS1 allowed mainframe-based integrated multi-application platforms to become common and again as networking matured sufficiently to allow central server hosting of applications.
Here are five ways that will help with that future-proofing.
General Issues with Compatibility
Compatibility has a lot in common with International Relations. Different things speak different languages. Even when there are protocols in place, or where there are common points of reference, incompatibilities and mistakes in translation will still take place.
Ever since Grace Hopper wrote the first line of Cobol code and coined the word bug for a fault, keeping applications talking to each other in an understandable way has been the Holy Grail of computing.
One way is to have all your stuff come from one place. In that way, you have a reasonable expectation that different applications from the same supplier will be compatible.
The second way is to ensure that all the interfaces you need are covered by a standard and that the software applications conform to those standards. More below.
For hardware, make sure that power requirements are standard, that the cables and plugs to connect hardware to other bits of hardware, PCs, screens and the like are standard. This is particularly important in the case of rack-mounted equipment to support cloud applications. Some Fog Network applications may be able to process data at the network edge, but they will lose connectivity with the central database if they do not have full network connectivity.
Cloud Services that will not endure
One perennial problem over the years has been the flavour of the month stuff. New technology is pronounced as the gateway to the future, and in a few months or years, it is superseded by the next flavour of the month.
This may not be so much of a problem if applications continually evolve to meet new environments, but if the underlying technologies fall out of favour, the applications running on them will not be upgraded, and will gradually die away until you receive the “end of life” notice.
To counteract manufacturer lockin there was a concerted effort a few years ago to develop non-proprietary environments that did not tie you into a single supplier. These were Open Systems, Unix, Linux and the like. There are, however, several versions of Open Systems that are by and largely compatible with each other.
The advantage is that open source systems are maintained by a community of users, and nowadays cover most requirements, plus a few really out there applications.
The downside is that Open Systems need more maintenance and support than proprietary systems, basically more security for more work. Users have found that there are shorter development times using cloud-native things like serverless development and deployment.
Many companies, driven by Covid-19 are under intense pressure to digitally transform themselves If only in order to survive.
The traditional software development techniques do not supply results quick enough to meet the hectic demand, and in addition, are unlikely to sufficiently future proof the development. New paradigms are needed in the development sphere and while cloud-native solutions are the ultimate goal, existing legacy systems and data must be kept running.
When looking at a cloud environment, either proposed or implemented, users must be careful of not looking too much at the cloud itself and missing what it is intended to support.
One thing to look at in terms of futureproofing is to look at the so-called technologies like Kubernetes. Other areas to be explored should include stateless networking and stateless computing.
One way around lockin and non-functioning interfaces is to ensure that the application conforms to all applicable standards, particularly in importing and exporting data, especially in real-time. This will also help with future-proofing since manufacturers and suppliers will need to keep conformance with legacy standards when implementing changes to standards.
The big danger here is that while standards might be observed, some developers use so-called “enhancements” to pull the user back into lockin or additional work in modifying interfaces.
It is extremely difficult to future-proof an IT environment. In essence, you are betting that your choice of technologies will endure and that in the future you will have options and not be locked into enabling technologies with a limited horizon.